Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. The cozy notion of gathering together with friends and family (both related and chosen); the opportunity to marvel at and be grateful for the many wonderful aspects of my life; and all the time and effort people devote to traveling and cooking make this one particular day truly special and beautiful. In my family, our tradition was always to invite not just our nearest and dearest, but acquaintances, friends of friends, colleagues and others who had no place to go or who couldn’t be with their own loved ones. Coming from a large family, we typically did the meal pot-luck style, with each relative or friend focusing on his or her special dish, craft or talent to make the evening complete. My signature was apple pie (using Martha’s pate brisee recipe!) and, of course, the table decor.
For today’s post, I created a Thanksgiving centerpiece in all creamy white flowers. I love the idea of clean, white blooms popping up from the center of a table that is brimming with the rich colors of autumn foods and linens. I also incorporated some chocolate brown flourishes (artichoke and dried lotus pods) and added a few decorative elements for the display. As always, I encourage you to undertake any creative project with a sense of fun and whimsy — there is no “right” way to make this centerpiece, and I promise it will look extraordinary as long as you enjoy yourself while you make it.
CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!
To provide texture to this monochromatic arrangement, I decided to work with a range of open “face” flowers (flowers with round blooms) and more linear “tube” flowers (flowers with long, lean lines). I used (from left) hydrangea, ranunculus, white berries, creme de la creme roses, lisianthus, tulips, astilbe and mini calla lilies. I also added some enormous amaryllis, which you will see pictured in the detail shots below. For your centerpiece, use any combination of face and tube flowers that are available to you.
Note the fluffy round shape of the hydrangea bloom.
The tulip, astilbe and calla lily below are more tube-shaped. The great thing about tulips is that as they open, they transition from tube to face flowers, so your work of art can evolve!
I used a sturdy, wooden, brick-shaped box for the container. I liked the way the dark grain contrasted with the white flowers. I also like to create a longer and lower centerpiece for a holiday table, in the hopes that it might remain on the table through the meal, as opposed to being moved off to the side. I will demonstrate two options for designing in this type of container.
The first option is to create a grid with floral tape. Make sure to test your container (whether it is wood or tin or some other non-glass vase material) to see whether it holds water. If the seams leak water, you can use a sealant or a glue gun on the inside edges or line the container with cellophane (which I will demonstrate below).
Use the tape and scissors to create a strong tape grid in which to place the flowers. The grid is a great way to provide structure and is easy to manipulate as you go — if you need fewer or more openings, you can always redo the tape.
Cellophane can be used with the tape grid (simply line the container before creating the grid) or with floral foam, which is another option for this centerpiece. NOTE: Some people have concerns about using floral foam, as this foam is not biodegradable and contains some chemicals. Choose whatever materials make sense to you.
Drape a large piece of cellophane over the container.
Use your hand to tuck the cellophane into the corners of the container.
After you add the floral foam, you will cut the cellophane down to size, but leave it draping over the sides for now.
Soak one piece of floral foam in a bucket of water. Gently place the floral foam with the holes facing down into the water. NEVER submerge the foam with your hand (this can create dry pockets of air in the foam); let the foam sink down toward the bottom of the bucket on its own. Give the foam a few minutes of soaking (according to the instructions) and then you are ready to place it in your container.
Once the foam is settled into the container, trim the edges of the cellophane down to size.
Designing in floral foam can be a great way to learn how to structure an arrangement. Try to begin with some of the sturdier elements and create a “skeleton” for the shape of the arrangement. I like to create three to five points of interest in an arrangement and cluster flowers around those points.
Place heavier elements like artichoke and hydrangea in the foam first. You can use these as the focus for your points of interest and cluster flowers around them.
Play with various combinations of face flowers and tube flowers as you fill in the foam. Try placing each bloom into the foam as straight as possible, so that you are not tangling up the stems. Also, try placing each bloom only once so you avoid making Swiss cheese out of your foam! If you place something and really want to move it, pull it all the way out and make a brand new hole so it will drink fresh water.
I always like tendrils from lisianthus, astilbe, etc. emerging from the otherwise tightly designed arrangement. You may choose to stagger the height of elements like the lotus pods (as I have done here) or use them close to the other blooms.
The deep color and texture of the artichoke makes this arrangement more seasonal.
I love the bell shape of the amaryllis mixed in with the other blooms.
I used a white ceramic tray underneath the arrangement (to add another layer to the design and also to protect the table) and “garnished” with some soft dusty miller leaves.
The creme de la creme roses add a bit of blush color to the all-white theme.
I added some decorative spheres made from twigs and scattered them around the base of the arrangement, both on the tray and on the table.
For a shock of red, I added a single pomegranate!
The final decorative touch comes from a cluster of pheasant feathers, a nod to the Dutch Masters.
More amaryllis love.
There’s my pomegranate friend!
Wishing you the warm embrace of family and friends . . . Happy Thanksgiving!