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Creating Holiday Centerpieces: 5 Essential Tips

An elegant centerpiece created using wine bottles and candles.

Out of all the design elements that you must consider when preparing for a holiday party, what is one of the most important? The centerpiece! It may seem like a tiny detail in comparison to preparing a feast, but a centerpiece helps to set the tone for your entire event. Before you rearrange your house or even plan your menu, take a little centerpiece inspiration from below:

1) Formal Vs. Casual Materials

The possibilities for your centerpiece are endless! You can stay basic with just a floral arrangement, or get as creative as you want. Start by considering whether you want a formal or casual atmosphere.

If you’re aiming for a laid back or rustic event, consider using items like kraft paper, leaves, jars, and pillar candles. In contrast, mirrors, ornate candle holders, Christmas bulbs, ribbon, and lace all add a formal touch.

A gold and silver themed centerpiece with decorative glass trees and a sparkling table runner.

The play of gold and silver in this setting makes for a formal ambiance.

Note that even cookie cutters can be used as decorations.

Don't forget to add some natural elements as well. Walnuts, greenery, flowers, pinecones, and wood slabs can all be used as part of a centerpiece. If you're worried about the longevity of such items, consider using silk flowers, faux berries and glass blown pumpkins for an equally elegant look.

A place setting decorated with natural elements like sprigs of greenery.

Try a rustic place card holder and minimal sprigs

of evergreen for casual touches to any holiday table.

A dessert table with faux leaves and berries for autumnal touches.

Faux branches, leaves and berries give this dessert table an

autumnal feel. (Image courtesy of Alyssa and Drew Photography)

2) Cater To Your Table

Small or narrow tables may require only one centerpiece, while larger tables will need more decorations. The size of your items should also reflect the amount of space you're dealing with.

A large floral arrangement will hog all the space a tiny table has to offer, but a sprinkling of berries and nuts will disappear on a long buffet table. For larger tables, try crafting a bigger piece for the center and fanning out with several clustered items.

A round table featuring a central trio centerpiece with floral arrangements on either side.

A central group with two floral arrangements flanking

either side complements the size of this round table.

(Image courtesy of Alyssa and Drew Photography)

If you find that your food and drinks are taking up more room on your table than you'd hoped, consider setting up designated tables for each of these items elsewhere. A long, sideboard table is perfect for drinks or a buffet, while a smaller table can be elegantly displayed with desserts.

Don’t forget to add decorative touches to your side tables as well. While they may not require centerpieces, mixing in elements that coordinate with the main table’s decor will help to tie your whole event together.

A dessert table with natural decorations mixed in.

For this event, the desserts were displayed on a side table

with silk flowers, a twisted lace runner, and fall leaves.

(Image courtesy of Alyssa and Drew Photography)

3) Play With Height

For any kind of arrangement, a variation in height is key! A variety of heights is appealing to the eye and adds a whole new dimension to your decorations.

Try grouping three items together: one tall, one of middling size, and one shorter piece. This trio can be used as your main centerpiece or throughout your table design. Just remember not to go too high as you don't want to block your guests from conversing across the table.

A grouping of two various sized candles, a pumpkin and a toothpick jar all on a round wood slab.

The height of a pumpkin, a toothpick holder and two

wine bottle candles create an intriguing centerpiece.

(Image courtesy of Alyssa and Drew Photography)

4) Fill Up Space

Too much empty space on a table can be unappealing. If you find your centerpiece isn’t quite cutting it, try adding some fillers like a table runner, greenery, ribbon, or items that can be sprinkled throughout like pinecones and ornaments. Just remember that you want your table to look complete, not cluttered.

An image of walnuts and star shaped candles filling up table space.

When you find yourself dealing with empty space,

try sprinkling small elements like walnuts or votives throughout.

A large floral arrangement rests on a table runner that fills the rest of the table.

Adding a table runner can fill up blank space without

detracting from the natural woodgrain of your table.

5) Candles, Candles, Candles!

Especially during the holiday season when the days are colder and darker, candles are a go-to decorative item; their soft lighting makes any event seem more intimate and cozy. Choose from rolled candles, votives, pillars and jar candles all depending upon the needs of your table.

A grouping of candles surrounded by wild greenery all on a rustic placemat.

Try using a variety of candles for a variation of heights and styles.

For more inspiration, check out these articles:


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LFID is a full-service interior design firm serving West and Southeast Michigan. We work with clients across West and Southeast Michigan (Detroit metro, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland) and anywhere in between, and we pride ourselves on creating bespoke, people-centered spaces—because after all, people are what this life is all about!

If you have a project on the horizon, get started by telling us a little about your vision here.

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