If you’ve read my Hosting 101 page, then you know I am stickler for centerpieces, no matter what the budget is. Below are some ideas for festive spring and summer centerpieces. Generally, if working on a small budget, I find using brightly colored fruits and vegetables work best. You can go for a monochromatic look [think all green apples] or a mix of colors. If working with a slightly larger budget, I like going for flowers to bring a little life into the party… oh, and they smell good! All centerpieces pictured below cost under $20. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.
Lemon & Lime Centerpiece
- Total cost: under $3.00
- Suggested substitutes: any colorful fruit
Oranges & Green Apples:
- Total cost: under $5.00
- Suggested substitutes: any fruits or vegetables that can sit out at room temperature, such as pomegranates, mango, grapefruit, red apples, and artichokes… let your imagine run wild!
Orange Tulips (a Barefoot Contessa favorite)
- Total cost: $14 [2 bunches @ $7 each]
- Suggested substitutes: I happen to really like the color orange against the blue dinner napkins and blue-rimmed dinner plates (paying some homage to my alma mater, Syracuse!) Here is where you can really get creative; pick any color flower you like that works with your table setting and fits within your budget.
TIPS: Tulips don’t last very long relative to other flowers, and don’t fair very well in heat or direct sunlight. To stretch their life I suggest doing the following; buy tulips that haven’t opened yet [so the opposite of what you see below], drop two pennies in the bottom of the vase [I am no scientist, but I think it’s the copper that has an effect on the tulips], and change the water and trim the stems every 2 days. Yes, tulips are high-maintenance!
The Color Purple: [FYI, it’s my favorite color]
- Total cost: $15 ($5 a bunch for wax flowers, $5 a bunch for stock flowers and $5 a bunch for statice flowers).
- Suggested substitutes: see my comments for orange tulips. I really like the contrast of purple against orange, and I love color blocking like this. Be creative!!
- Total cost: $15 ($5 a bunch for hydrangeas, $5 a bunch for spider mums, and $5 a bunch for pom poms).
- Suggested substitutes: I think you get the idea by now that you can pretty much use any flowers you like! When making an all white arrangement in particular, I really like using different sized flowers to add dimension. The large hydrangeas contrast well against the small pom poms and medium-sized spider mums.
TIPS: I find it easiest to arrange the larger flowers in the vase first, and then add in the smaller flowers. Smaller flowers are less bulky and are easier to rearrange if you don’t like their placement. Sometimes I will arrange the flowers in my hand, and then place them in water. I usually use the second method when handling longer stemmed flowers… I don’t know why, but it works!
I added the pears for an additional ES touch!
- When trimming flowers, always use a knife to allow for maximum absorption of water as scissors seal in the wax of the stem. Always trim stems on an angle.
- Aside from pennies, bleach and aspirin are supposed home remedies to prolong life of flowers [personally, I have no interest in handling bleach].
- Try experimenting with colors, whether it’s a colored bowl or colored fruit. My favorite color pairings are: orange and blue, orange and purple, navy and white, and green and white.
Feel free to share some ideas and pictures of your favorite centerpieces.