Centerpieces Buying Guide

From a casual weekend brunch with friends to a formal dinnertime gathering of family members, the dining room or kitchen table is the spot where many of us celebrate the holidays. And in the middle of it all is a holiday centerpiece, which provides more than a focal point for your get-together. Centerpieces supply style and color, as well as an accent for the rest of your decorating scheme.

Types of Centerpieces

Types of Centerpieces

Centerpieces vary as much as the parties, meals, and gatherings we have at holiday times. But even with all those differences, centerpieces remain an integral part of how we put together our tables and buffets. Some centerpieces are created from cut flowers and plants, while others are styled from living or faux flowers and plants. Topiaries are another type of centerpiece created with plant material. Candles, too, may be the focus of a centerpiece's design, as can edible elements. Many centerpieces are eclectic -- a mix of blooms and foliage as well as other items. Here's a short overview of the types of centerpieces you will find at the holidays.

Cut Flowers and Foliage

Cut flowers and foliage are among the most common -- and easiest to assemble or find -- types of centerpieces. These can include single blooms in small vases placed down the length of a table, or a large, middle-of-the-table display.

Candles

A cluster of candles can provide a wonderful accent to a table. Candles may be displayed in individual candleholders or clustered together, such as several pillar candles placed on a small tray or in an elaborate candelabra.

Topiary

Ivy that's grown around wire and presented as sculpture makes for an interesting, inventive centerpiece. As with other centerpiece arrangements, smaller topiaries can be placed down a table, or a large one can be used as a focal point.

Living Plants and Flowers

Centerpieces can also be created from living plants and flowers; some of these elements may be able to be planted outside after cold temperatures have passed. Others may be better suited for indoor-only use, such as wheatgrass or forced bulbs.

Faux Plants and Flowers

Artificial flowers and plants are often used as centerpieces. They can be saved from year to year, which often presents a cost benefit.

Edible

In an interesting twist, edible centerpieces have become popular. These may include cut fruit or more interactive components, such as a fondue, as the table's central focus.

Eclectic

Centerpieces may not fall into one category or the other, but instead may be a collection of plants, candles, and other elements that complement a table's setup or a home's holiday decor.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Before deciding which centerpiece you want to display, either for a season-long focus or as a special-occasion masterpiece, review the various purchase considerations that come into play. Those include the centerpiece's height and width as well as price and longevity. Style is a concern, too, as is the container for your centerpiece. Here's how to make sure your centerpiece is one you enjoy -- for a night or several months.

Height and Width

A centerpiece should be big enough to ground a dining or buffet table, but not too tall or wide that guests seated across the table cannot see each other.

Style

The centerpiece's style should add to the flair and flavor of holiday decor by repeating colors or patterns found elsewhere on the table or in the room.

Price

Depending on the materials, plants, or flowers used to create a centerpiece, cost may vary greatly. Be sure to include the centerpiece's price in your purchase considerations.

Container

Many centerpieces include a container that is reusable. Make sure yours fits well with other vases or containers you already own so you can assemble a coordinating collection of vessels.

Longevity

Cut flowers need regular care to last as long as possible, while living plants need tending several times a week. Investigate how much time and maintenance your centerpiece will require.

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