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Holiday Centerpiece Do’s and Don’ts

The space on your holiday table is prime real estate, and there’s no reason to clutter it up with a clunky, obnoxious centerpiece that obliterates your guests from across the table, and, even worse, doesn’t leave room for the gravy boat. That doesn’t mean you should eliminate a centerpiece, either. Just get it right.

What to do:

Do incorporate some meaningful treasures. For instance, if you’re not serving soup but have a lovely tureen, consider using it to hold your centerpiece. Here’s a perfect example from The Cottage Market.

Do consider placing appropriate centerpieces where guests will frequent, other than just at the dining table. Some ornaments and a bit of greenery at the bar, a small cluster of pine cones and a candle in the powder room, a large bowl of seasonal fruits and nuts on your kitchen island will tie your rooms together.

Do keep in mind guests with pollen allergies. You can still enjoy a festive table arrangement without traditional flowers. Look to succulents. They’re hardy, exotic, easy to work with and come in myriad shapes and colors. Take a look at this stylish example from The Green Upgrader.

Want to skip plants altogether?

This vase filled with holiday candy, from Real Simple, makes a perfect centerpiece that won’t go to waste.

What not to do.

Don’t use flowers with overpowering fragrances at the dining table. That turkey or prime rib you’ve paid a fortune for and slaved over doesn’t need to compete with the cloying scent of gardenias – as gorgeous as they might be. Follow the same rule for candles. Unscented at the table, please.

Don’t be stingy with your centerpiece. If you’ve got a table for four guests, then a centerpiece measuring about 18 to 20 inches in diameter is ideal. But, that centerpiece is going to look lost if you’re expanding your table to full capacity and hosting a large crowd. Consider placing a 25-inch or larger centerpiece in the center of each six place setting. Note that the centerpiece doesn’t need to be a single piece, instead try using different elements as in this example by Tara Riceberg.

Don’t crowd your holiday table. I mean, really, exactly how would you pass the salt to the person across from you at this table? As for conversation, this is one example where texting at the table might be a good idea.

One more:

Don’t use live animals as centerpieces, no matter how precious they might look. But, you already knew that, right?

What are your plans for holiday centerpieces this year? Or do you even bother with them? We want to know. Send your photographs to or post them on Instagram with the hashtag #AJCdiy.

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March 30th, 2014
12:04 am

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