Okanagan Floral Design students create elaborate Christmas arrangements

The students are making the floral arrangements as part of the Homes for the Holidays tour

Alumna Brittaney Molasky working on garland in class. photo: contributed

Eleven students from Okanagan College’s Floral Design program are adding a dash of holiday cheer to their studies, creating elaborate Christmas floral arrangements for the popular Homes for the Holidays tour.

The Homes for the Holidays event is a self-guided tour of seven private homes in Kelowna decorated for Christmas and featuring artists, tastings and music along the way. Homes are assigned teams – including florists, interior designers and event planners – who work together to style the house in the latest holiday décor trends.

“This is the first time Okanagan College has worked on this tour and so far it has offered invaluable training to students,” said Kathy Neufeld, Floral instructor. “They’ve been required to work in a team with real clients, real deadlines and also real pressure.

“This is a high-profile community event where people go all-out. The exposure has been great for students and is really building their self-esteem.”

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The team has been putting its talents to use decorating the historical G.D. Loane House located on Abbott Street. The house was built in the late Art Deco period in 1937 and is known for its innovative Streamline Moderne architecture.

“Each house on the tour works toward a specific holiday design theme set by the interior designer and all of our floral arrangements are based on that theme,” said Neufeld. “Because of the era the Loane House was built in and the architectural style of the house, our team decided to go with the theme of The Great Gatsby.”

The tour begins tomorrow, Nov. 17, and students have been working towards this day for quite some time.

“The students and I have been working on this event for almost a month now,” said Neufeld. “We’re preparing a plethora of arrangements including a ton of interior and exterior garlands, potted plants, outdoor planters, chandelier dressings, flowers for all rooms and of course, a Christmas tree.”

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The students were joined by two Okanagan College Floral Design alumni who came back to the classroom to help with the arrangements and offer mentorship.

“It’s so humbling to be invited back into the classroom to help with special projects like this one and also to talk with the students,” says Alana Pidwerbeski, a Floral Design graduate (2016) and owner of Wild Ginger Floral Design. “The floral business is changing and growing – especially in this city and all of the Okanagan weddings – and a lot of students are interested in opening their own small business. I enjoy sharing my experiences as a business owner with students and helping them along the way.”

Coincidently, the G.D. Loane House is owned by a former Okanagan College employee, Ron Lutz and his wife, Loy.

“It’s been a wonderful experience working with the College again, especially in such a different way,” says Lutz, who worked as an electrician for the college for more than 25 years. “This is our first time participating in Homes for the Holidays and it’s fitting that the college is making all of the floral arrangements. Our home looks amazing and it was such a pleasure working with the entire décor team.”

The event sold-out quite early and funds raised from the tour goes to support the Central Okanagan Hospice Association.

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