Thursday, December 15, 2016

Last Minute Christmas Centerpieces

I love to decorate for Christmas. My family has a whole collection of holiday "stuff", and I know exactly where it goes every year: the manger scene goes on the sideboard in the dining room, the Christmas village goes on the piano in the living room, the mantelpiece is decorated with fresh greens and a set of candles that spell out "NOEL", the felt Santa face my husband made in kindergarten hangs from a light fixture in the kitchen, the dining room chandelier is festooned with red bows, and the Advent wreath sits on top of the wine refrigerator. But there's one decoration that changes from year to year, and somehow I nearly always manage to forget it until the last minute: a centerpiece for the dining room table.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to put together a quick, easy, and festive table centerpiece using only items that you already have around the house. So if you find yourself suddenly in need of a centerpiece, here are some ideas.

A Bowl of Something

Start with some kind of bowl or vase: a small serving dish, a brandy snifter, a low flower vase, a large martini glass. Then toss in whatever festive items you have on hand: pine cones, cranberries, pine or holly branches, extra ornaments, festive ribbons, gift bows, brightly wrapped Christmas candies.

A Candle Arrangement

Most of us have a closet full of candles of various types. Grab a couple of them and find an interesting way to display them: upend a couple of wine goblets and top with votives; put pillars on a pretty holiday saucer; line up a row of small candles on a long serving dish; place either tall or short candles inside a hurricane glass; arrange candles of multiple heights on a plate or platter. Add some festive details like ribbon and confetti, fresh fruit (cranberries and oranges have a nice holiday feel), greenery, or small ornaments for a splash of added color.

"Borrow" a Decoration from Elsewhere in the House

You probably have a small arrangement or decorative item somewhere in the house that could double as a centerpiece: a single house from your Christmas village, a small manger scene, your Advent wreath, a Nutcracker figurine, a snow globe, reindeer pulling Santa in his sleigh.

Random Stuff

Look around your house for anything that looks (or could be made to look) pretty and festive. Your imagination is your only limit here! A teddy bear with a festive scarf around its neck, a few of your prettiest Christmas cards, a pot of rosemary wrapped in Christmas paper, a pretty gift bag with tissue paper popping out, a couple of small wrapped gifts borrowed from under the tree, a pineapple, a stack of Christmas-themed books like "A Christmas Carol", "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", a Christmas teapot and teacups.


If you're hosting the kind of event that requires a centerpiece, chances are you're serving some kind of dessert that looks fancy. Unless it's something that requires refrigeration until the last minute, throw it on the table as your centerpiece! Bring out your fanciest cake stand or cookie plate and let your guests look forward to the end of the meal. And if you can't use your dessert for whatever reason, alternate treats like a row of candy canes, a bowl of fruit and nuts, or a dish of red and green M&Ms will also do the trick in a pinch.

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