If you are aiming to create a homey fall table spread this year for Thanksgiving, there is no better way to finish it off than with a natural, handmade centerpiece. This takes a larger table, for the most part, but I have included a few smaller ones that might suit a 4 or 6 seat tabletop. I have also included pricier, more complicated designs along with those that require fewer ingredients and a lot less time. I have made several of these myself and can attest to their simplicity and low energy requirements. It will all depend upon what type of spread you wish to create and the type of people you are entertaining.
Some of these are made with flowers and others are made with natural fall findings. Some of these have an ethnic flavor and others are all American. It is up to you which you want to try and it is likely that you will add your own ideas to the mix. So let’s get started. Here are the step by step projects:
Fall Eucalyptus and Golden Horn Centerpiece
This is an inexpensive item to create; I know because I have made and loved several over the years. It is truly a classic.
Block of Floral Foam, 3 inches thick
A large, square gold Serving Tray
Spanish Moss (gathered fresh or purchased dried in a bag)
Large, golden crafters Horn (preferably a Tuba shape)
Hot Glue Gun
20 Magnolia leaves (preserved in glycerin)
10 stems of Frasier Fir (presevered in glycerin)
A large roll of Gold Ribbon
3 floral Picks
18 stems of dried Eucalyptus (purchase by the bag; you might need 2 bags)
8 stems of dried Amaranth (purchase by the bag)
2 large Pinecones (gather in the wild or purchase separately)
5 dried Pomengranates
Trim the Frasier Fir stems to 8 inches. Cut the gold ribbon into 3 lengths of 20 inches each. Trim 18 stems of the Eucalyptus to 20 inches in length. Trim 8 stems of the dried Amaranth to 8 inches each. If you cannot locate Frasier Fir stems or Magnolia leaves in the craft stores, then perhaps you can forage for them in the neighborhood. If you do find them fresh, allow them to dry a bit naturally but not get too crisp. Before they are completely dry, dip them in glycerin and allow them to dry completely. If you cannot locate Magnolia leaves or Frasier Fir, then you may substitute them with any other foilage of your liking or that is available locally.
Using the serrated knife, cut the floral foam to a size that will fit inside the golden serving tray. Secure the foam to the tray using floral clay. Using the floral pins, cover the foam completely with the Spanish Moss. Once covered, center the golden horn on top of the foam and moss. Making sure that the horn is centered, secure it to the foam using the hot glue gun.
Next, insert the Magnolia leaves (or substitute foilage) horizontally intot he four sides of the foam block, as low as possible so that they are just above the tray. Next insert the Frasier Fir (or substitute fir) about 2 inches above the Magnolia leaves. Insert firmly into the foam all the way around. Then, take up the 3 ribbons and attach one end of each to a single floral pick. Insert the pick into the foam, under one side of the horn, letting the ribbons stream out of the side of the tray from under the horn.
Then, insert the Eucalyptus and Amaranth stems into the foam, taking care to position them at different angles and depths. They should look scattered but also fill up the design as you go. Take another floral pick and loop the wire around the pinecones, passing it through the bottom two petals on the cone and then insert the pick into the foam, as well. This should lock the cones into place. And, then, finally, hot glue the Pomengranates into a small cluster just above the center of the horn.
Please refer to the photo I’ve given as an example. This is my most current production of this design and although it has some variations, it gives a good overall example of how this should look. In this example, you can see that I saved money by using Pinecones in the center instead of Pomengranates. Please feel free to make alterations as your budget, table size and dinner plans allow.
Fall Herbal Candelabra
If you have a candelabra like the one in the photo, then making this centerpiece is a breeze. It gives your table a real fall and winter feel and even has a sort of pagan, natural presence that reminds one of what Thanksgiving was all about back in the days of Pilgrims and Indians. All you need are winter herbs and some winter greens and you are on the way!
Golden Yarrow (flowers)- about a bucket full
8 or 10 long stems of fresh Lavender with flowers
Creeping Thyme (long strands)- about 2 food storage bags full
Fresh garden flowers and herbs- about 2 buckets full
2 tall tapered white Candles
Hot Glue Gun
4 small glass vases (about 6″ high)
1 small block of Floral Foam,
Dry the Golden Yarrow to a mossy texture. Tear apart into small bunches and hot glue them onto the Candelabra, moving all over the surface until it is covered, from the base to the top of the candle holders. Make sure there is enough room around the holders for the tapers and shove them into place when you are done.
Now, gather the Lavender stems and Creeping Thyme. Create a long strand by wiring them together with the floral wire one end to the other. Make the strand long enough to create a circle or square in the center of your table.
Around the circle or square, position the glass vases. Fill each vase with the fresh flowers and herbs from the garden or store. Make them bushy enough to fall over the sides and hide the vases. They should look like little bunches, overflowing with foilage.
Now, hot glue the floral foam to the center of the Candelabra, between the two candles. Using the picks, wire bunches of the fresh herbs and flowers together in handfuls. Then pick them into the foam and lock them down. Do this over again until the foam is completely covered and the Candelabra appears to be blooming foilage in the center. Check out the photo for the design the creator intended. But always feel free to innovate to suit your table and number of guests.
Winter Wheat and Berries
I love this arrangement! I have made it many times, giving it away to some of my friends over the years. Not everyone loves it, though. It’s up to you to decide if you would like to use it this year. It is small and tall and decorates even the tiniest tables, giving a simple spread some pizzazz. I have used it in many different ways, from the front door table to the living room corner. It looks great on the dinner table with a natural looking spread.
24 Wheat Straws
1/4″ wooden Dowel
Small block of Floral Foam (4″ x 4″ or thereabouts)
Small round Clay Garden Pot (6″ x 3″ suggested)
Handful of stones
Hot Glue Gun
Spanish Moss (a few handfuls)
3 dried Mushrooms
2 stems of dried Canella Berries
6 lengths of Raffia, natural color
First of all, I could not find “Canella” Berries in my craft store. So I substituted some dried red Berries I found in a bag. They looked fine. However, if you can find the Canella Berries, you will be closer to what the designer intended.
Trim the wood Dowel to 18 inches. Trim the 24 straws of Wheat to 2 feet. Do this from the bottom, retaining the heads. Trim the clumps of Berries, whatever kind you use, to 3 inches in length. And then trim the Raffia to 12 inches.
Arrange the Wheat stems around the wooden Dowel, securing them with the floral tape. Wrap the tape around the bottom about 2 inches up and again towards the top, about 14 inches up.
Trim the florist foam with the serrated knife to a size small enough to fit inside the clay pot. Make sure that it is cut down so that it sits about an inch lower than the rim of the pot and about 2 inches narrower than the pot along the sides. Fill the area between the foam and the sides of the pot with the stones, to stabilize the pot.
Press the Wheat Straws and wooden Dowel together into the foam. Pull it back out and then fill the holes that are left there with hot glue and then immediately reinsert the Wheat and the dowel. Look at the picture to see how it should stand.
Cover the foam at the base of the Wheat with clumps of the Mosses and arrange the dried Mushrooms on one side of the arrangement and hot glue them into place. Hot glue one stem of Berries to the other side of the arrangement so that it looks balanced.
Holding all the Raffia strands together, tie them around the Wheat in the center so that they cover the floral tape. Hot glue a small clump of Moss to cover the knots in the Raffia and finish this off by hot gluing the remaining Berries onto the center of the Moss.
As you can see by looking at the photo of my finished project, I have varied a bit from the original intent of the designer. You may do the same, as you wish.
Here is the simplest of the simple and the cheapest, too! If you have a small budget and a small table this year, then this one might fit the bill. And it doesn’t have to be Radishes, either. Use any round, hard fruit or vegetable that you have at your disposal or even mix and match if you wish. It is a flexible, simple design that won’t take a lot of time to finish and it works really well on small, intimate table spreads.
Block of Floral Foam
5″ Clay Pot
20″ natural Twig, 1/4″ in diameter (or thereabouts)
Hot Glue Gun
10 to 15 Floral Pins
35- 45 Radishes (or any small, hard fruit or vegetable)
4″ Foam Ball
36- 46 Floral or Craft Picks
3- 5 Radicchio Leaves
1 small Apple
I have made a bunch of Pomanders out of fresh Rose buds. This is made just about the same way. Start out by pressing the Foam Ball onto the top of the Twig. Push it in about 1″ through the center. Remove the ball, fill the hole with hot glue and replace the Foam Ball. Prepare the Radishes by inserting a pick into the bottom of each one.
Then insert the picks into the Foam Ball until it’s completely covered with Radishes. Space them out evenly as you go, trying to get it as close to balanced as possible. Where bare foam is showing between the Radishes, tuck some of the Moss into the cracks to cover it up and press hot glue in where needed to hold it in place. Be careful not to leave the hot glue too exposed.
Cut the block of Floral Foam with the serrated knife so that it fits down inside the Clay Pot. Insert the twig with the Radishes into the foam about 2 inches deep. Make sure it’s centered. Remove the twig and fill the hole with hot glue and then replace the Twig. Hold the Twig with the Radishes steady until it is set. As soon as it feels firm, cover the base with the remaining Moss and use the Floral Pins to hold the Moss in place.
Decorate the base of the Topiary by arranging several Radicchio leaves around the base of the Twig. Secure these leaves with Floral Pins. Insert a Craft or Floral Pick into the bottom of the small Apple and then insert the other end of the Pick into the foam. If necessary, add hot glue to hold it in place.
Since I won’t be posting again until the first week of December I want to take this moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to say a prayer over the meal for the lives of the Animals that died for your meal and keep in mind always how fortunate we are. Not everybody in the world can eat the way we do and we must remember that. Regardless of current misfortunes, we, as Americans, are truly blessed. Be grateful and share! Love to all.