Looking for a seasonal, beautiful and budget-friendly way to greet the holidays? Bright flowers, twigs and berries suspended in sparkling ice make naturally beautiful luminarias.
Start with local greenery and cranberries or other items you have on hand. Add water, freeze, and insert a candle for a holiday glow. (If the weather cooperates, temperatures at night should be low enough to keep the ice from melting.)
The basics: A flexible plastic container, such as a recycled two-liter bottle, is an inexpensive and unbreakable mold for making ice luminarias.
Pour distilled water - it makes the clearest ice - into the container until it is one-third full. A second, smaller container in the center, weighted with rocks, creates a hollowed-out center in the mold.
Arrange tree branches, such as yellow-twig dogwood, and colorful fruit, such as cranberries, in the water. Freeze until solid.
Thaw the ice slightly to unmold both containers. Then place a votive candle inside.
Blazing bracts. Light up the night with a glowing poinsettia encased in ice. Start with a small bloom clipped off at the base. Seal the stem with a flame, and push the bloom face-down into a large plastic cup. Then use the ice-molding technique described above.
Winter wonder. A frozen ring of red-twig dogwood, evergreen cuttings, and cranberries can warmly embrace a pillar candle. A tall glass holder lets the candle burn brightly, and safely, amid the branches. Use a flexible plastic cake carrier to mold the arrangement.
Basket of holly. Encase holly sprigs and pyracantha berries in ice that you mold in a flexible plastic ice cream bucket. Create a candleholder in the center of the ice with a recycled 2-liter bottle. Branches, berries and water fill the gap between the two containers.
Give it a traditional look by placing a red pillar candle in the center, and pose the finished arrangement in a wire basket.
Berry bright. Make a glowing parfait by alternating layers of cranberries and ice. Use a 2-liter bottle for the outside of the mold, and create a hollow place for the candle with a 1-liter bottle. Add a few inches of water and drop a line of cranberries into the gap between the two bottles.
Freeze one layer solid, then add more water and berries in the gap and freeze again, then add a final layer and freeze one last time.
Unmold and place a candle in the center.