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Simple centerpieces

Nov 12th, 2010 | Category: Crafts

by Nancy Weiss

Natural and minimal. These two words capture the essence of what holiday centerpieces should be. Often times, for many people, the holidays become stressful and costly, the absolute opposite of what should be happening. I have watched people spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars, during a single holiday season, stressed to the max. While others have shown they simply celebrate the spirit of the season, and keep things happy and full of life, understanding and appreciation. Pumpkins, gourds, apples and pears make for a simple, sweet arrangement.
Being an avid crafter, I have noticed how the centerpieces differ when comparing these two types of people. The costly folks tend to create (or rather purchase) large centerpieces that scream “look at me!” The minimalists during the holidays create (on their own) simple centerpieces using natural and locally found objects, or they travel to their local nursery or craft fair and purchase a simple centerpiece for a good price.
In my opinion, the simple centerpieces make a far more stunning presentation. Rather than screaming, “Look at me!” they scream “Look at the food and these great people! Isn’t this great?!”

If you are looking to create a simple, yet delightful centerpiece for your holiday table, here are some ideas. Many include things one can find just by walking outside or visiting your local farmer or craft fair.
I’d like to also note most of these items biodegrade. So they involve no packing, no storing and no plastic! And the best part is this kind of naturally inspired centerpiece forces you to get in touch with your creative side every season and start all over again.

• Candles: A popular item in table centerpieces, candles can be used in different colors and heights to create a stunning visual. Surround the candles with some greenery and perhaps a bow or ribbon, and you have a simple creation evoking the pleasure and feeling of the holiday season. Also try floating votives in a jar of water, surrounded by dried berries and twigs.

• Pumpkins, gourds and apples: A great idea for the Thanksgiving table spread is to collect a number of different sized and colored pumpkins, gourds and apples. Arrange them randomly on a platter and place in the center of the table. For place settings, take small pumpkins or gourds and write the name of the guests on them and place appropriately around the table. This adds a simple, personal touch that most guests will enjoy. (If you don’t have any small pumpkins and for some reason can’t find any, go to your local thrift store to find very inexpensive decorations such as straw pumpkins and other items.)
• Mum and pumpkin bowl: Another idea using pumpkins is to take a medium-sized pumpkin and cut it open (as if you are carving). Remove the pulpy insides, and fill it with some water. Place a beautifully colored mum in the water, or fit a small potted mum inside. Clip additional mum flower stems and toss around the base of the pumpkin. This makes a great presentation, and if pumpkin bowls are a part of your dinner it means you only have to carve one more.

Candles of various heights surrounded by greenery and simple bows make for a popular centerpiece.

• Pottery and wheat: Place a piece of pretty pottery in the center of the table and place cut wheat inside. Very simple for the Thanksgiving holiday.
• Leaves, flowers and fir cones: Another idea is to head out into the yard and use what you can. Grab up some fallen leaves as well as late season blooming flowers (mums are a great example). Clip some of the flower buds (shortly before mealtime) and scatter the blooms and leaves across the table. Also take small votive candles and place among the leaves (be sure nothing gets over the flames) and perhaps a small bouquet of mums in a pretty glass vase, or several vases if you have a large table. Your guests will think this spread is simply delightful. You can start collecting from the outdoors as early as you’d like.
Wreath, nuts and holly leaves: Try mixing together wreath material, such as greens, berries and ribbons, as well as holly leaves and fresh nuts.  If you only have a ready-made wreath, just place it on the table, with lit candles in the center. Surround the candles at the base with some holly and scattered nuts. Easy and beautiful!

Nancy Weiss lives in San Juan County. She enjoys decorating and cooking throughout the year.

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