How to Pick the Perfect Flower Arrangement

Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas are three of the biggest flower-giving holidays. But you can gift beautiful blooms to friends and family all year long.

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by NEA Member Benefits

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Flowers make everyone smile, and they’re a wonderful way to show someone you’re thinking of them. Let’s say a teacher you work with has just finished her master’s degree and you want to send her your congratulations. A cheery bouquet or a vibrant green plant would be a thoughtful gift.

The gift of flowers all year long

Flowers make a great all-occasion gift, whether you’re sending congratulations or condolences. How to make your gift stand out? Follow proper etiquette and personalize your gift.

Here are six occasions when you may want to send flowers—with tips to help you make the right selection.

Valentine's Day. When you think Valentine’s Day, you think a dozen red roses. What would that romantic day be without a big, beautiful bouquet to show how much you love your sweetheart?

Florists are banking on that notion—literally. It’s a classic case of supply and demand: Prices are higher than usual on Valentine’s Day because so many of us want floral arrangements then. Roses are the most popular flower chosen for Valentine's Day bouquets.

You can show your love without wilting your wallet. Opt for a lovely bouquet of red tulips, gerbera daisies, lilies or other beautiful flowers instead of roses.

You also can bypass the delivery fee by picking up the arrangement from the flower shop and handing it to your sweetie. Another option for those who can be flexible: You can likely get a better deal if you ask to have your flowers delivered a few days before or after the holiday. And you'll have a better selection to choose from and can take advantage of early-order incentives that many florists offer on this busiest flower buying day of the year.

Graduation or congratulations. An excellent way to personalize a gift of flowers for this occasion is to choose colors that symbolize the celebration. If your school colors are red and white, sending your colleague a bouquet of red and white tulips would be beautiful and full of school spirit. You can use the same approach for a high school graduation, using the school’s colors as your guide. Take that graduation gift up a notch by finding out where the graduate is going to college, then adding in flowers that represent that school’s colors or even the state flower for where the college is located.

Hostess gift. When you're a guest in someone's home, it's always a good idea to show up with a small gift for your host or hostess. If you opt to bring flowers, you can make your gift doubly special by choosing the low-maintenance kind. Select a pretty potted plant or a bouquet that's already in a container instead of a bunch of cut flowers. Anyone hosting a party or dinner is likely on a schedule and may not have time for the extra work of finding a vase, filling it with water, arranging the flowers, etc. Your host or hostess will appreciate your gift—and your thoughtfulness.

Get well. Bright, cheery-hued flowers are a great way to brighten the day of someone who’s sick or recovering from an illness. Consider sending low-odor flowers in case the person is sensitive to smells, such as someone who is receiving chemotherapy treatment. Ask your florist about hybrid flowers, which usually are less scented than other varieties because they’ve been bred for their looks but not their scent. Certain lilies and hydrangeas also can be naturally less fragrant.

Sympathy or condolences. If someone you’re close to has lost a loved one, you can send flowers to the funeral service or your friend’s home. Flowers for these occasions traditionally have muted colors and usually come in three formats: as a wreath, a spray (so it can lay on top of the coffin) and a traditional arrangement (almost like a centerpiece). You could include the deceased's favorite bloom, if you know it, to add a personal touch. Or choose a flower that has a connection with that person in another way, such as Black-eyed Susans for someone named Susan. However, if the family has asked for donations instead of flowers, you should respect their wishes.

Birthdays. Flowers make an ideal birthday gift, especially if you live far away from the birthday guy or gal. “My mother has always loved fresh flowers,” says Jeff Schwartz, a fourth-grade teacher in Wilton, Connecticut. “After my parents moved to Florida, sending flowers for my mother’s birthday became a tradition. Since we don’t see her regularly, it’s harder to keep track of what she might need, but I know she always enjoys getting flowers.” You can personalize birthday flowers by choosing a floral theme or trait that has some significance to the recipient. For example, someone who loves purple surely would love to have purple lilacs, irises and lavender show up on her doorstep.

Your gift will mean even more to the recipient when you include a hand-written message, even if you have to dictate it to the florist over the phone. This helps for practical reasons (the person knows who the flowers are from), but it also allows you to personalize your good wishes so that your gift means even more to the recipient.

Looking for the perfect gift? We can help