Next, I made a trip to my friend Cheri's house who provided me with the red sticks (thanks friend!!). For the greens I went to Menards and bought a Christmas tree for $14.95. I think the worker was quite appalled that I was going to chop it up...but it was a LOT cheaper than buying cut branches.
For assembly I filled the planter almost full with packing peanuts. On top I placed a 2" thick floral foam piece cut to fit snug. From there I first placed in some lighted branches that I got at Target, the red sticks and then just started filling in with the branches. On the very top are some big pine cones. For less than the price of the one at HD, I have 2 planters and I'm pretty pleased with the results. We just need snow on the branch tips and we'll be all set! (oh and you can tell that we haven't done any landscaping yet from finishing our front yard and porch project - that will be next spring)