December 21, 2009

200 Red Roses for Christmas

If it's about what you give instead of what you receive, then I've already had a wonderful Christmas. My idea to give away red roses as gifts was born when I gave flowers to my friend, Alvina, in October. She is a widow in her 80's. When I handed her a simple arrangement in a vase, she lit up like a candle. "Oh, thank you dear! I haven't had flowers in such a long time, dear." Her reaction made me want to give her flowers again. offers bulk roses that are shipped directly from South America to your doorstep. Their current deal is 100 roses for about $80, including shipping and tax. These extremely fresh, long-stemmed roses are very different from roses that have languished in a florist's refrigerator for several weeks. They last longer and open beautifully.

So I decided to give Alvina, my grandmother, and other local friends red roses for Christmas. Then I was asked to help with gifts for the female staff members at my husband's workplace. Hmmm, shall we give them . . . . red roses? Another order was placed to make 8 arrangements of a dozen red roses each.

I bought vases at Target, the dollar store, and Goodwill. A florist friend helped me order bulk Christmas greens and burgundy hypericum berries. I bought mini ornaments at WalMart and wired them. The ribbon came from Costco, and I made dozens of bows while watching a movie one night. My kitchen descended into floral chaos once the arranging began.

I began thinking about the other widows and other single sisters in our congregation. Since they didn't have a husband to give them roses, I decided that they needed a red Christmas rose from me. I nearly gave up when I asked for a list and was given just over 30 names. But I knew these gifts would make for a very special experience, so I decided to keep going with the idea.

Delivering all the gifts was at once the biggest highlight and biggest challenge. The dozen-rose arrangements were taped into paper boxes and carefully driven to the office party. Then I started delivering the other arrangements, nearly 50 in all. The temperature dropped down to 10 degrees F. My bum was cold. Some people didn't have phone numbers to call ahead, and I had to make several tries before catching them. I got lost in apartment complexes and my arm nearly fell off a few times as I carried my toddler in one arm and a vase in another. But the smiles and hugs were fantastic! Women can't help but be delighted when they're given red roses.

What made this project especially rewarding is the fact that I'm usually a mediocre to poor gift-giver. I just can't seem to come up with great gift ideas. But this one hit the spot. What is the best gift you have ever given? Please leave a comment and tell. I need some inspiration for next year . . .


  1. Hi VW, I'm amazed! This must have been a task of mega proportions. And also the ensuing joy. I can feel it in your writing. The arrangements are beautiful. I love the complementary hypericum. I think that since you've got the process down, you could do this again next year. I'm sure the recipients wouldn't mind. My track record is no where near this creative, I'm afraid. Lots of online shopping this year. However I'd like to file your idea away for future inspiration.

  2. What a absolutely beautiful idea! Just think of how many people's lives you have brightened with a red rose. I love how you thought of those widows who no longer have anyone to bring them red roses anymore. My father died two years ago and my siblings and I decided that in addition to the regular Christmas gift we give to our mother, that we would also pool our money together to buy her a gift on behalf of my father, since he is no longer here to give her one himself. Last year, it was a bottle of her favorite perfume that he used to always buy for her. I may borrow your red rose gift idea if that is okay with you for next year. Merry Christmas VW!

  3. VW, You are good hearted and thoughtful. I can imagine the joy you brought to these women and the joy you received in return. Happiest of holidays to you and your family. gail ps thanks for the Costco flower idea, too.

  4. Merry, Merry Christmas VW! What a lovely, thoughtful gift idea. Blessings to you! :-)

  5. That is one of the sweetest things I have ever heard about. I bet the joy you received back was overwhelming.

    What a great thought.


  6. I'm feeling embarassed about this post now. I know it's better to serve without tooting your own horn. But then I think, if no one confessed, how would the rest of us get inspired?
    I do have one suggestion if anyone orders a bunch of roses from Wear gloves while handling them. Growers use pesticides to protect the roses during growth and shipping, so it's possible (probable?) that some residues remain when the flowers reach you (you've probably heard that warning about fruit, too). While handling a hundred or more roses, you will obviously be exposed to more of this possible residue than someone who handles just a few. So wear gloves and don't use the flowers to decorate a cake or something!

  7. I don't think you should be embarrassed at all! I think this is such a great idea and I bet it was a lot of fun putting together.

  8. Wonderful idea!

    I think there are very few women who wouldn't appreciate being given flowers :)

  9. Dear VW, this is the most wonderful thing you have done, brightening the lives of so many! Bless your heart and a warm hug and squeeze for you. {{{U}}}. You are an angel. :-)


  10. VW girl ! What can I say to you that the others haven't already .. that was an amazing thoughtful gesture that brightened so many lives : ) .. I'm sure that gift will not be forgotten and those women will be inspired to pass on a kindness to others .. the "ripple" affect .. if not this year perhaps next year .
    YES .. I just thought of that too .. wearing gloves is a good idea ..
    Your toddler must have had fun too .. I know you must have gotten very tired but those smiles .. well, I can see how much you enjoyed it yourself .. don't worry about tooting your own horn .. it didn't sound that way at all : )
    Merry Christmas girl !

  11. you are indeed an angel! What a wonderful way to brighten the holidays.

    Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

  12. What a wonderful idea and I am sure you warmed many a heart with your gifts.
    Merry Christmas to you.

  13. VW! I love this beautiful idea! I often send my MIL roses and other flowers because she's nearly 80 and no longer feels very well. She seems to really enjoy the flowers. And, after all, how many of us need something else to clutter our houses? Thanks for the reminder and Merry Christmas.~~Dee

  14. What a wonderful post - and you're not tooting your own horn at all! We brought my mother-in-law to a skilled nursing facility near our home two years ago(she's now in residential board and care) and when I saw how much she enjoyed the flowers I brought the first few times, I made sure to bring her a fresh arrangement of some sort on a regular basis. But I confess, it starts to tax my ingenuity to come up with new ideas.

    The only creative thing I do for Christmas is for my clients - I've been designing and sending my own holiday cards for the last five years.

    I hate to break it to you, but I don't think you're going to top this idea next year!

  15. Wow, and think that I knew you when....

  16. Your idea of giving red roses is brilliant.
    I suggest you do it again next year so you don't need to have a new idea. You won't top this one.
    You are so good to give single roses to all those widows in your church.
    Have a very Merry Christmas, red rose lady.

  17. What a simply wonderful thing to have done. While roses aren't my personal fav I can appreciate their beauty and can imagine how happy you must have made these ladies.

  18. What a wonderful idea. And, thank you for the tip on - I had no idea you could order fresh flowers this way!! You'll be known as The Rose Lady in no time!! I'm thankful to you for sharing this lovely post, and inspiring others. Happy New Year!!

  19. I would argue that you're not a mediocre gift giver and I don't even know you! Judging by how generous you were with the "Gardening by Letter" envelope I received from you, I'd say you rock the gift giving! Thank you so much for everything. Especially the needlepoint gifts. I know they had to be a labor of love and time so I appreciate you spending both of those on me. Allium Christophii was new to my garden last spring and I loved it so I'm thrilled to have the seeds. The postcards and stamp were fun too and I appreciate your nice note. It was just as touching as the roses you gave away at Christmas. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  20. What an awesome thing to do!! You inspire me!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.