If you've got style and creative flair, making something unique and attractive for your table dressing may be a fun way to spend an afternoon. An unlimited budget helps, too. For the rest of us, entertaining for special occasions, like weddings and other large gatherings, can inspire glassy-eyed misery when we have to come up with attractive ways to adorn not only ourselves and the food, but the other related stuff, too.
Actually, this isn't as bad as it sounds. Most of us have creative reserves we can tap when the occasion calls for it. All we need is a little inspiration and some time to explore the available options. If you want to dress up a table, making an eye-catching centerpiece is one of the best ways to do it. A table centerpiece is a little like the wall art in your home: It isn't essential for your comfort or for the efficient performance of your household tasks, but it helps create a pulled together look, while reflecting your personality and thoughts about the space.
Let's take a look at some simple but stylish ways you can fashion a centerpiece that will extend the theme of the occasion, generate some nostalgia or enhance the mood you're trying to create.
10: Pieced Fruit
Inspired by the colors and aromas of nature, cut fruit makes a very appealing centerpiece when it's done right. Just be sure to use a variety of fruits that will stay firm for the duration -- melon, pineapple, peaches, apricots and grapes would all be good choices. You'll also need wooden skewers of varying lengths and a stable base. If the idea of cut fruit displayed on skewers is too casual for you, try slicing lemons, limes or oranges into ice water and adding the mixture to a crystal vase or apothecary jar. Cut fruits are a natural for a summer celebration. They smell wonderful, look great, and you can eat them if things are running late in the kitchen.
9: Fruits and Vegetables
Whole fruits or vegetables displayed in bowls, baskets or pitchers can be an impressive sight. An abundance of these colorful items looks bountiful and coordinates with almost any décor. If you'd like to mix it up a bit, incorporate flowers, like bird of paradise or orchids, into the mix. Your table will look lush, exotic and inviting, regardless of the season. If you're decorating a number of tables, try to come up with a standardized arrangement that you can repeat for all the centerpieces in the room. This will create a consistent and professional look. A mirrored tray under the arrangement will add some sparkle and elegance.
8: Holiday Themes
Christmas, Easter, winter wonderland, spring fling and even Independence Day are classic themes for centerpieces. The nice thing about using these established holiday or seasonal ideas is that it's easy to get inspired, and the elements to carry them out successfully are as close as your local craft store. If you're on a budget or want something that's easy to put together, stick with candles and fresh flowers that correspond to your theme. They're a classic that never gets old. Seasonally wrapped boxes exploding with fresh flowers are great, too.
7: Sun and Surf
Start your honeymoon early with a centerpiece that reflects your love of sunnier climes. Shells, dried star fish, sand, beach pails and fishing nets can help you create a little bit of the beach on your own luncheon buffet. You'll need plenty of elements and one larger piece, like a sand candle or hurricane lamp, to give some dimensionality and elevation. Your local craft store can help get you outfitted with everything you'll need. This one's short on bling, but it's charming, easy and inexpensive.
When you incorporate old and new photos into your centerpieces, you're honoring the past and providing some marvelous conversation starters. Just remember to use frames or other display devices that will reflect the look of the rest of the table decor. It helps to label pictures, too, so guests know what they're looking at. Groupings of large and small photos work really well, especially when they're mixed with artfully arranged flowers and mementos. Pictures of the happy couple as children are always worth the table space, but if you have multi-generational photos, they can help create the mood, stir up memories and encourage priceless reminiscences among your guests.
5: Potted Plants
Using living art as décor is a fun and fast way to dress your table. When you choose plants, make sure the pots or pot covers will work with your table settings, and opt for plants that aren't so tall or bushy that they'll create a barrier to communication. Flowering plants like chrysanthemums are always a safe choice, but blooming orchids, hydrangeas, calla lilies or miniature roses have a lot going for them, too. Use cache pots, pots without holes or waterproof liners to keep the tablecloth sparkling clean.
4: Apothecary Jars
For sparkle and symmetry, you won't do better than some nicely filled apothecary jars. These glass containers can be mixed, matched and filled to suit almost any theme, style of décor or table size. They're so versatile, in fact, that soon you'll be using them for all your entertaining needs. Tall or short, rounded or angular, these lidded jars are a great table accessory.
3: From the Potting Shed
All creative decorators take inspiration where they can find it, and your garden shed may be the source of your greatest artistic triumph -- centerpiece-wise anyway. Those ceramic or clay pots, artfully mossy and filled with fresh daisies, could strike just the right note of quirkiness or eco-friendliness. Include a ceramic frog, a bird feather or flowering tree branches and you have an introduction to spring (and new beginnings) that's a showstopper.
Want something more formal? Try constructing a fresh or artificial topiary using ivy and a simple metal frame. This approach is more whimsical than elegant, but your wedding should reflect your sensibilities, and if you spend more time in the garden than you do in the nail salon, a refreshingly earthy centerpiece may be just what you're looking for.
2: Dried and Silk Flowers
Fresh flowers can get expensive, and no one ever said you had to use fresh blooms if they're going to break your budget. Two other good options are dried or silk flowers instead. Artificial and preserved flowers can look amazing, and at a bargain price, a simple bouquet in a vase will look classy and still leave you some cash when the bills come due. Faux and preserved flowers are seasonal, and you can find bargains if you shop far enough ahead and store your purchases carefully until you need them.
1: Water Features
There's something magical about water and ice. Whether the presentation is elaborate, like a glass pond, or just a few candles floating in a shallow crystal dish, water in all its forms contributes something special that makes it worth a little extra fuss. Reflections in water add crystalline sparkle at a fraction of the cost of crystal and silver, so consider using water in combination with mirrors and candles. It'll amp up the glamour without going overboard.
Lots More Information
- 10 Gifts That Should Be On Your Wedding Registry
- 10 Signs You're Turning into Bridezilla
- 10 Great Wedding Themes
- 10 Biggest Wedding Expenses
- 10 Classy Wedding Shower Ideas
- 10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Planner
- How to Choose a Bridal Gown for a Destination Wedding
- Ultimate Guide to Alternative Wedding Registries
- What should guests wear to a destination wedding?
- Why do some couples take a belated honeymoon?
- "How to Make an Edible Fruit Bouquet."http://www.plan-the-perfect-baby-shower.com/fruit-bouquet.html
- Christensen, Emma. "DIY Paper Flower Centerpieces." The Kitchen. 11/19/08. 4/12/10.http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/entertaining/easy-entertaining-four-ideas-for-diy-paper-flower-centerpieces-069899
- Favor Ideas. "The Lazy Way to Great Winter Wedding Centerpieces." Undated. 3/12/10.http://www.favorideas.com/learn-about/centerpiece-ideas/six-easy-winter-centerpieces/
- Favor Ideas. "Want 10 New Centerpiece Ideas in the Next Five Minutes?" Undated. 3/12/10.http://www.favorideas.com/wedding-blog/wedding-centerpiece-idea-creator/
- HGTV. "How to Create a Snowy Candle Centerpiece." Undated. 5/12/10.http://www.hgtv.com/holidays-occasions/snowy-candle-centerpiece/index.html
- Hillier, Malcolm. "The Book of Fresh Flowers." Simon and Schuster. 1998.
- Kennedy, Kimberly. "The Art and Craft of Entertaining." Atria Books. 2005.
- My Home Ideas. "7 Easy Centerpieces." Undated. 4/12/10.http://www.myhomeideas.com/holidays/entertaining/7-easy-centerpieces-10000001859857/
- Nautical Luxuries. "Centerpieces and Candles." Undated 4/12/10.http://www.nauticalluxuries.com/php/index.php?sc=59
- Sculptures in Ice. "Ice Sculpture Molds." Undated. 4/11/10.http://www.sculpturesinice.com/
- Simon, Sher. "Suddenly a Centerpiece: Assemble These Clever Table Designs in No Time at All" Rockport Publishers 10/04.