Christmas is one of the easiest times to try your hand at floral design. The fresh flowers available at this time of year are generally hardy, the greens are fragrant, abundant and so varied in texture, and it’s so easy to add the extra little touches that speak to the season like ornaments or figurines. Last year I wrote a post you might want to revisit that describes the traditional flowers and greens available (complete with photos of course).
Holiday Floral Centerpiece Tutorial
Also last year I showed a very easy centerpiece using fresh flowers and holiday mugs (see it here). This year my centerpiece is of silks and appears grand, but I’m telling you it’s super easy….only 4 easy steps. Anyone can accomplish this one – yes, even you! I use the second of a pair of swags I had on hand – you can see what I did with the other swag by clicking here.
Supplies you’ll need:
- A mixed green pre-made swag or a bunch of fresh greens from your yard
- Pinecones, unless they’re attached to the swag
- 1 wintry pre-made small swag or pick
- 1 silk poinsettia ‘bush’ (mine was $1 at Michaels using one of their many coupons)
- 3-4 yards of wired ribbon (preferably not one-sided because then you have to worry about the wrong side showing)
- Ornaments of your choice
- NO glue gun, NO wire, this is not permanent so you can take it apart and use the elements next year
I start by laying down an old runner to protect the table. Plus it makes moving the centerpiece easy, just lift the runner and everything stays put.
Step 2: This is very important. Fluff. Spread out those greens and give the swag dimension both vertically and horizontally. Cut apart and tuck in the wintery sprigs from a pick. I got 8-9 pieces from my snowy pick. If you’re using fresh pieces, maybe lower branches from your tree for example, just layer them in a relatively flat shape, hiding branch ends whenever possible.
I had some fallen pine branches from a walk in the park so added them to the arrangement, mostly for the scent. I just mixed them in here and there – it makes the whole thing look more real!
Step 3: Create your center focal point first by adding flowers. I cut each blossom off the bush and arranged most of them in the center. Reserve a few extra to carry the color and flowers all the way to each end. My center one is the tallest and is only maybe an inch above the others. Remember that people will see it from all directions so vary the direction the flowers face.
Step 4: Add ornaments and ribbon. I used 2 sizes of red ball ornaments, but use whatever is left over from your tree or fits your theme. The largest balls went in the center and smaller ones out to the edges. The ribbon is cut into lengths about 8-12″ long, folded in half and just tucked among the greens. Generally try to make clusters of your elements – wherever there was a pinecone I added an ornament and ribbon.
Here’s my finished centerpiece. The great thing about this is that you can use things you already have, so the cost is minimal. Pulling all the pieces together took the most time; once I had everything gathered it took less than half an hour to construct. This centerpiece is very adaptable – make it any size you need by purchasing the appropriate sized swag (or using a handful or armful of fresh greens), use whatever ribbon and adornments you have on hand, use poinsettias or amaryllis or magnolias – whatever works on your table. Designer Tip: As you fill your centerpiece, remember to decorate all the way down to the table top. Don’t just layer your elements along the top. Look at the centerpiece from a seated position to make sure it’s attractive from the side.
You can see I tied my chair decor in with the centerpiece design to keep the theme coordinated. The chairs are super simple – a bow tied with wired ribbon and a silk poinsettia bloom tucked in the top (I used a second $1 bush from Michaels). Five minutes tops!
Not one to let any fresh greens go to waste, I plopped (yes, plopped) the branches into a container, added a bow (same ribbon as on the centerpiece since they’re in the same area), added a berry branch, a cluster of 3 ornaments and some left over glittery things I had on hand. It smells great, cost nothing, and I love how the pine just drapes and curves and does it’s own natural thing.
Other Centerpiece Ideas
Even simple fresh flower arrangements can really finish a display or table setting. Here are a few more ideas that might suit your table or style better.
As you know I save magazines and photos galore (thus the occasional picture from my vast archives) and these are from my florist days. This arrangment can be duplicated in fresh or silk – use wet florist foam for the real greens and wedge it firmly in your container. Start by creating the grapevine wreath – wire branches together if necessary at the top, but insert into foam in the base. Cut a variety of greens and layer them in the container following the shape in the picture; tuck in a few silk feathers. Attach the pretty ornament to showcase. This will last for weeks since there are no flowers.
The artichoke looking cones are actually novelty candles. Build the arrangement using silk greens stuck into a couple of bricks of styrofoam. Fill in with cones and ornaments and leave a couple of open spaces for candles. If you come up with a quick and easy way to duplicate the partridge in a pear tree, share it with all of us!
I included this one to illustrate the surprise of thinking outside the box. The two fairly standard vase arrangements (using one stem of amaryllis each) are connected by a horizontal branch laid through the arrangements. Then dangle a few lightweight ornaments and reap the compliments.
Similar to the first arrangement, this one is only slightly more elaborate. Use stacking trays, plates, box lids that you’ve decorated and protected against water. Use small pieces of wet florist foam to hold the carnations and roses. The leaves are salal (or lemonleaf) but any broadleaf from your garden will work. If the trays aren’t balanced and staying in place, try using a little earthquake putty to keep them steady.
So many choices, so little space! I love how my centerpiece turned out this year and love that I can use the same base and have a totally different look next year! What’s on your table? Something elaborate or simple? Themed or utilitarian? Fresh or silk? Still conflicted? Here are a few more how-to ideas from last year.
If you’re still looking for the perfect gift, it’s not too late to check out our affilates on the Shopping Savings tab or The Bookshelf for design book ideas. We’d love it if you gave a YDH design consultation gift certificate! (read about it here)