How to force spring bulbs for Christmas
In the fall, when spring flowering bulbs are being sold everywhere, buy some extra. Traditionally, the bulbs are supposed to spend 12 weeks in the cold, but I have found that even less than 12 weeks will work out fine.
Buy some polished rocks in the houseplant area of any store. Decorate with permanent markers or paint pens terra cotta plant saucers (the kind you put under a terra cotta pot). You can seal them with some brush on sealant found at craft stores.
Then, put an odd number of bulbs in the saucer (odd numbers look better, like 3 or 5, depending on the saucer size) and surround them with the rocks. Keep their noses out of the rocks and pointed up. I write out instructions for forcing on an index card and put the card in a plastic bag and tie with a ribbon. If you are doing paperwhites, they get kind of tall and sometimes I tie them to some chopsticks, you could include. Lately, I've been sticking to hyacinths, because I love the smell of them.
Here are the instructions for forcing:
Instant Spring - just add water
1. Keep this saucer in a cool spot until New Year's - your refrigerator or garage is good.
2. Put the saucer in a warm spot in your house or office
3. Keep the rocks wet
4. It will be spring by February!
By the way, in January, when you are really sick of winter, if you have a forsythia bush in your yard, you can cut some of the branches and then make an "X" in the bottom of the branch with a knife and put them in some warm water in a vase. Change the water every day if you can, and you can force it to bloom, which is really nice, too.