Crimson Tidings

Clever ways to decorate with cranberries

Nothing is more traditional to a New England Christmas then the cranberry. Mixed into breads, simmered into sauce, or strung on string to garland a tree, the cheerful red cranberry is a presence at holiday time and one that musters the color and joy of the season in one ruby-red package. 

While not a commercial crop here in New Hampshire, the cranberry does grow in the marshy bogs of the Granite State. The low-growing evergreen shrub produces bright red berries, which Native Americans used for medicinal purposes, dyeing fibers and food. Today’s wild cranberries are best left as pre-winter feasting for birds, deer and brown bears. To gather your own, simply visit local stores or farmstands for fresh berries to mix into all kinds of holiday decorating projects.  

The early colonists came to experience firsthand the plentiful cranberries that grow in New England and turned them into a fall harvest staple. The durable berry is easy to preserve and can last for months in cool temperatures and stores easily in the freezer. 

Since the earliest Christmas celebrations in the colonies, families have gathered around a bowl of cranberries to create simple and inexpensive décor for the tree and the mantel. This year, we expand the concept to spread the spirit of the cranberry all through the house. 

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Foolproof Centerpiece > A bed of cranberries on a vintage ironstone platter makes the perfect foundation for a foolproof centerpiece. Top with festive pomegranates and red pears and intersperse with sprigs of ivy and eucalyptus.


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Cranberry Swizzle Stick > Add holiday panache to any party beverage with a swizzle of tart cranberries. To make your own, thread fresh berries on a bamboo skewer. Freeze to make them frosty cold, and then slip into club soda, champagne or your favorite mixed cocktail.


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Towering Display > Cranberries make great anchors for cut flowers on this three-tiered stand. Fill glass jars with berries, add water and blooms.



Cranberry Wreath > Make a mini wreath with cranberries threaded on broken toothpicks and placed into a foam wreath form. Display in a cool but not freezing, place.


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Rustic Garland > Brilliant cranberries look like holiday jewels strung on fishing line with a sewing needle to garland a dining room chandelier.



Berries and Greens Wreath > Add a lively jolt to a traditional green wreath with a mix of botanicals and leaves and a final flourish of cranberries.


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Holiday Punch > A quick cranberry orange cocktail will please a holiday crowd. Two cups each over ice and chilled fruit, lemon lime soda, cranberry juice, orange juice, vodka. Mix and serve.

Where to get fresh cranberries

Brookdale Fruit Farm
41 Broad St., Hollis
(603) 465-2240 /

Tendercrop Farm at the Red Barn
123 Dover Point Rd., Dover
(603) 740-4920 /

The Local Grocer
3358 White Mountain Hwy., North Conway
(603) 356-6068 /

Categories: Holiday decor and decorating