I don't like to rush the Christmas Season, especially before Halloween, but sometimes you just have to plan ahead for a good thing.
Forcing bulbs is a great way to decorate naturally and give thoughtful gifts. These are Paperwhite Narcissus, probably the most simple bulb to force. You can assemble "kits" or start bulbs and then present the them as gifts. The recipients will enjoy watching their bulbs sprout and grow. Click here for more thorough directions and information.
Paperwhite bulbs can be purchased loose or in kits at hardware stores and floral shops. Gather some pebbles or gravel and an interesting container without drainage holes. Place several inches of pebbles material in the container and place as many bulbs on top as will fit, point side up. Then top off the container with more pebbles just so that the top half of the bulb is exposed. Add water so that the level of the water reaches the bottom of the bulb and then maintain the water at this level. Place the container in a cool place. In a few days roots will develop and in about 2-3 weeks you'll have lovely, fragrant blooms.
This is an Amaryllis plant. They make a stunning statement and an amazing gift. You'll need to plan ahead at least 6 weeks for blooms.
These bulbs are large and are usually planted one per pot. Choose a pot just a bit larger than the bulb. I use an orchid growing medium which is like coarse wood chips. You can use soil but then you'll need a pot with a drainage hole.
Place a bit of potting medium in the bottom of the container, then add the bulb. Fill in the pot with more potting material and allow the top of the bulb to be exposed. Water well and place in a warm, sunny spot. Water sparingly at this point until little spouts of green appear, then keep potting medium just barely damp. Too much moisture will cause the bulb to rot. In about 4-6 weeks you have a gorgeous bloom.
Amaryllis can be found in a variety of colors and bloom varieties.
Give it a try!