A well-dressed table for any gathering requires an appropriate centerpiece. This can seem intimidating to someone who’s not a florist but it really need not be. Centerpieces can be easy or complicated, inexpensive or over the top, simple or elaborate, depending on your time, resources, and creativity.
By following these five basic tips, you can create a tablescape that will wow even yourself!
Consider the size of your centerpiece. A tall and elaborate floral centerpiece might work great on a large round table or buffet table set against a wall but won’t work well on your dining room table. And, if you put a tiny vase of simple flowers in the middle of a large round table serving 8 people, they may not even notice it’s there. Think about your guests. Can they see over the centerpiece, or around it or even through it? Does the centerpiece interfere with the place settings? Is it big enough to make a statement? Large round or square tables call for a larger centerpieces, while long narrow tables are better set with smaller, longer accents that draw your eye along the length of the table.
Most gatherings will have a theme of some kind and that can determine a color scheme. Carry these colors through to your centerpiece as well as table settings. Perhaps you’re hosting an Independence Day party. Red, white and blue will be front and center. Maybe you’re hosting a Cinco de Mayo party. Red, white, green and yellow might be festive, pastels for Easter, etc. Remember that place settings, glasses and chargers can add color and especially table runners, placemats and even ribbon and wrapping paper can tie your color scheme together.
Bring in nature
The most inviting centerpieces will always include at least one element of nature which brings life to the design. Let me give you some examples of some of my favorites:
Candles or lights always bring a warmth to a table. Tapered candles work well with flowers in a traditional look. I like to gather lots of pillar candles in my color scheme and place them on candlesticks in varying heights. You can always scatter votive candles throughout the centerpiece, or for a more intimate dinner, place a small glass votive in front of each place setting. Fill glass jars with colored sand or dried beans and place small tea lights in the tops. I love the new Fairy Lights which are so delicate and can bring light and life to any centerpiece.
Water is a great element for centerpieces. In glass jars, color water with food coloring, add a floating candle in the top, accent with ribbons or fresh fruit. For Christmas I like to fill hurricane jars with water, top with fresh cranberries, add floating candles and then nestle the jars into Christmas greenery.
Natural things like herbs with or instead of flowers, succulents or other types of plants, fruits and vegetables make stunning centerpieces. Tackle a complex arrangement or just put them in glass containers, bowls, or trays. Leaves, berries and greenery always look beautiful. Did you ever think of using logs and stones in your décor? They can bring a woodsy, casual feel. And dried grains are a great décor item. Split peas bring a beautiful spring green to the table, dried beans and popcorn are great fall items. Need sand for a beachy look? Try light brown or raw sugar. Perfect.
The last thing you want is for your gardenias or wintergreen-scented candles to overwhelm the scent of your delicious dinner. Best to use flowers or greens that are less fragrant and unscented candles.
Use interesting items
Centerpieces can go way beyond flowers and candles. Look around your house for interesting items that follow your party’s theme. Shells and sand and floating candles bring a beach vibe, but add sunglasses and sunscreen bottles, paper umbrellas, etc. Gather clocks and arrange them on a table with green leafy balls and candles for a festive New Year’s Eve Party. My favorite wedding centerpiece incorporated traditional floral bouquets, votive candles, pictures of the bride and groom and a pair of colorful shoes on each table, representing the way the bride and groom met. And the bride got a lot of new shoes!