BY DEBBIE TRAVIS

We tend to concentrate on sprucing up our homes when we are entertaining. An extra runaround with the duster, pretty towels in the bathroom and flowers for the table, mantelpiece and sitting room transform our homes no matter how humble.

When the guests have gone and the last dish is wiped and put away, I always take a deep breath and enjoy the festive aftermath. But why do we wait for an impending soiree to decorate with flowers?

We can all do with a daily lift of spirits, and there is nothing that is as pleasing as a fresh bouquet stationed at the door or entrance hall to bid a warm welcome.

If it’s time constraints or budget that holds you back, prepare to be inspired. You might think you haven’t the ability to create with flowers and greenery, but with a surge of inspiration and a few florists’ tools of the trade, you will be adorning your tabletops with long-lasting abundance.

In floral designer Robert Waite’s new book, “Evergreen Tabletops,” you will discover the simple glory of evergreens; their year-round lush color, elongated, bushy shapes and memory-making fragrance are a symbol of health, strength, peace and joy.

Use evergreens as a base for a wreath, swag, large or small tablescape. Waite insists that there are no right or wrong rules to creating an evergreen arrangement. Gather together whatever you have on hand, a quick trip to the florist or craft store for a few helpful materials, and you’re ready.

Start with a selection of containers. Anything goes, from tin pots to interesting vases and old baskets found at second-hand shops. Depending on your plan, you will need a florist’s oasis, florist’s pins and sticks, wooden skewers and some thin wire. Raffia, ribbon and Spanish moss are good to have, as well as a hot glue gun.

Choose from the variety of evergreens that are abundant in your locale: fir, balsam, juniper, pine and cedar, as well as boxwood, magnolia, holly, eucalyptus and salal.

Nuts, pine cones, seasonal fruit and berries add color and interest. Flower blooms are an added attraction, but not necessary. Long-lasting carnations, spider mums, hypericum and alstroemerias are ideal.

Until you get a feel for pulling together an arrangement, study some photos such as the enchanting series in Waite’s book shot by Zac Williams.

Shown is a trio of reindeer nestled on cedar boughs beside a colorful bouquet of evergreen branches, seeded eucalyptus, berries, pine cones, apples and a few tiny presents.

Other ideas: A Santa bear infuses a basket of fir, cedar, spider mums and red carnations with holiday character. Wrap or paint a ceramic pot to look like a present, and fill with a spray of evergreens for a festive note on a hall table.

Evergreen displays generally have a casual air, but can be dressed to look ever so elegant. Waite has created a classic arrangement of white carnations, white alstroemeria, silver brunia and white slender twigs paired with clusters of small blue balls all balancing on fresh boughs of green cedar and balsam fir.

The stems of the flowers and greenery are inserted into a florist’s oasis that has been soaked in water to keep them fresh as well as to give them a solid footing. Evergreen arrangements should be misted or watered weekly to keep them from drying out. Replenish your evergreen display with fresh-cut flowers as needed.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle.