Get the table ready for the holidays: Easy Centerpiece Ideas

Create a stunning look for the family dining table



By Nancy Mattia

A festively decorated holiday dining-room table can put even the Scrooges among us in a good mood. Anchoring the table: a fabulous centerpiece. Whether you’re having the whole family over for Thanksgiving or keeping the guest list cozy at Christmas, the centerpiece sets the tone for the meal. Here are some suggestions that are affordable and easy to put together:

A mass of candles

Perfect for any holiday, candles are a quick, effective way to dress a table. For a pulled-together look, choose pillar candles that are all the same color but have varying heights. Place them randomly on a reflective platter to bounce the light and create beautiful ambiance. Since candle fragrance and food aromas don’t mix, be sure to choose unscented candles for a dining table.

Budget branches 

You won’t have to shell out a dime for this Thanksgiving centerpiece — just go to your backyard or a local park and pick out branches that are sturdy and have interesting shapes. After thoroughly rinsing them to remove any dirt or bugs and letting them dry, the branches can be placed in the center of your table; add a few votives to add some dimension.

Quirky vegetables

Don’t overlook imperfect vegetables. Pumpkins and squashes with lumps, bumps, and bruises are great conversation pieces and add an element of texture to your Thanksgiving centerpiece. Make sure your chosen ones look good together by doing a quick setup at the grocery store.


“Snow”-covered pine cones

Instead of putting a large candle in a glass hurricane, fill it with pine cones that are brushed with “snow”—an easy DIY project thanks to white snow spray.

A grouping of gourds

Gourds are those funny-looking fruits with uneven skin surfaces in bright orange, red, yellow, green, and cream. When compiling gourds, look for interesting sizes and shapes. To create a cohesive look, stay in the same color family, such as all creams or all greens. Place these treasures on a wooden tray to add warmth and texture to the spread.


 For a one-step Christmas Day centerpiece: Choose fresh fruit with thick skin (no berries) and an eye-catching color, like clementines, and arrange on a gold platter.

String Lights 

As an alternative to something solid like pine cones or fruit, fill clear vases with mini string lights or glitter for instant sparkle.


If you love the look of garlands, don’t just decorate the mantle with them — decorate the table too. For serious sparkle, scatter votive candles in metallic colors around the edges of the garland; for extra color and texture, add vibrantly hued fruits to the mix, such as cranberries, pomegranates, or apples.

Ornament closeup 

Do you have perfectly good Christmas balls that you never end up hanging? Put them to use in a bowl to create a gorgeous centerpiece. Mixed colored balls look fun and spirited; silver or gold ornaments add an elegant sparkle. Add some fresh greenery or tiny wrapped boxes to add even more interest.

Flower pots 

Decorate the outside of small flowerpots with ribbons and greenery. Put a piece of styrofoam at the bottom of each pot and insert a pillar candle. Fill with craft-store finds and you’ve got a festive display for the table.