“A grown-up, tongue-in-cheek floral interpretation of the folkloric fable of giving misbehaving children lumps of coal in their stockings at Christmastime.”

Arthur Williams, AIFD, EMC, CPF, the owner and creative visionary at Babylon Floral Design in Denver, Colo., presents a sleek and modern but humorous spin on a favorite holiday hoax for kiddos who didn’t make Santa’s nice list. Clandestinely nestled within the achromatic centerpiece, which blends traditional winter and holiday elements with an unorthodox twist, chunks of natural charcoal cleverly remind cheerful celebrators that the jolly old elf is watching. This innovative Christmas composition is ideal for adult get-togethers and sure to be a conversation starter, but you might have to show it and explain it to sell it. This is a great opportunity for naming an arrangement and incorporating creative signage. According to Williams, the smell of wet charcoal will transport you fireside, and a cup of hot cocoa will magically appear in your hand. Being naughty was never nicer.

Create a haphazard free-form web of bullion wire (silver and apple green) in the centers of two silver metal embroidery rings of different diameters. Tightly wrap the bullion wire around each contact point with the embroidery ring a couple of times before spanning the center of the ring with it, to secure the wire in place. Using a single length of bullion wire, wrap it around the ring, span the ring, wrap around the ring again, change directions, span the ring again, wrap again, and continue until you have created a wire web.

Place three rectangular pieces of Oasis Midnight Floral Foam into the center of a clear glass bowl, as shown. This will enable you to more easily recreate this “Y”-shaped centerpiece. Use anchor pins, secured to the inside of the bowl with adhesive dashes or dots, hot-melt glue or double-face tape, to keep the fl oral foam pieces in place.

Fill the bowl with lump charcoal, lightly covering the surface of the fl oral foam. NOTE: Rinse the lump charcoal thoroughly before placing it into the bowl.

Place the larger embroidery ring atop the rim of the bowl, and then place the smaller ring atop the larger ring, elevated an inch or so above larger ring with additional pieces of lump charcoal.

Working from the extremities of the design, to establish its shape, and to the center, arrange the stems of the botanical materials through the wire web and into the fl oral foam to create a “Y” shape, beginning with lichen-covered branches and followed by Anthurium (dusted with fl at black and silver metallic sprays for a soot-like appearance), privet berries, bleached dried Ruscus, Dahlia, bleached dried teasels, ball ornaments, snowflake ornaments, juniper and skeletonized leaves. Make placements toward the edges horizontal, with placements approaching the center more diagonal and even upright, in typical centerpiece fashion. Create depth in the center of the design with lower and higher placements of materials, to create visual interest.