Set the table with these last-minute Thanksgiving decorations


PITTSFIELD — The turkey may be stuffed and the potatoes mashed, but is the table properly adorned?

Don't worry. It's not too late.

When it comes to creating or buying a Thanksgiving table centerpiece, last-minute can actually be the way to go, according to local experts.

They even offered a few ideas to get the little ones involved and keep them occupied, while the adults are busy slaving over the stove for the last few days ahead of the holiday.

Local florists said that while Thanksgiving is not as busy as Christmas or Valentine's Day, orders for fresh flower arrangements do flood in the week before Thanksgiving.

"It is one of the smallest holidays" in the floral business, said Brenda Sanderson, owner of Garden Blossom Florists, adding that for those who do order centerpieces, "It is one of the last things they do."

People are generally looking for warm fall colors such as orange and yellow roses and gold, purple and red mums, said Kathy Noble, owner of Nobles Farm Stand and Flower Shop on East New Lenox Road. This year, she plans to have available centerpieces made from ceramic pumpkins, which could be filled with dried wheat, fall eucalyptus or cattails.

A large part of her Thanksgiving business comes from people sending flower arrangements to nursing homes or to parents from adult children unable to make it home for the holiday, she said.

Noble will have a handful of arrangements available for the last-minute walk-in customers, but most of her business is by special order only.

Since all centerpieces are made to order at Garden Blossom Florists, the few days before Thanksgiving are very busy at the First Street shop, Sanderson said.

Orders vary from classic cornucopia arrangements to contemporary displays featuring glass cubes and candles.

Mums, Gerber daisies, ornamental kale and natural grasses are popular this time of year, Sanderson said. Some people, however, prefer to match their centerpieces to their linens or dining room colors, she said.

For those looking to add a personal touch by creating their own centerpieces, Noble suggested using greens to hide their work, such as the Styrofoam used to hold flowers in place, and, most importantly, to have fun with it.

"Do your own thing," she said.

Fall lilies are abundant and people can often find interesting flowers such as cone flowers and bittersweets growing wild, Noble said, but cautioned fresh flowers will only last a day or two after picked. An arrangement of fresh flowers should be made up on Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest, she said.

Grapevine wreaths also make a nice fall decorations, welcoming guests at the door, Noble said. She has a few made up at the shop for purchase, but people can also try their own hand at decorating a wreath with silk flowers and a bow, she said.

Event Planner Tanya Costigan, who has designed countless centerpieces for special occasions since opening her Lenox-based business by the same name in 2010, said there are several ways to go when designing a Thanksgiving centerpiece: natural, glamorous and youthful.

For a natural-looking centerpiece, Costigan suggests using objects from nature like pine cones, acorns, dried wheat and pumpkins.

A lantern or tall, square glass vase partially filled with acorns or dried corn kernels, creating a bed for a candle inside, makes a simple centerpiece, Costigan said.

Pine cones and acorns can also be scattered across the top of a cake plate or inside a decorative bowl, she said. Small wooden crates, often available at antiques shops, lend a rustic look to the decoration.

How the items are displayed is just as important as what objects are used, Costigan said. Objects should be spread out to alternate colors and shapes. A centerpiece should not be too high, nor too low, and works best with an odd number of objects.

"Odd numbers are more pleasing visually," Costigan said, adding "if you are using candles, stagger them and use different heights and widths."

Small pumpkins or pieces of fall fruit, such as apples and pears, placed around the base of a cake plate works well, she said.

For a more elegant look, Costigan suggested spraying pumpkins with gold or white spray paint.

A spray of dried wheat, using the pumpkin as a base, works well, but the pumpkin should be hallowed out on the eve of Thanksgiving, if not the morning of, to avoid rotting before the turkey is carved.

Wine bottles also make elegant vases for stems of flowers, she added.

To get the children involved in the decorations, send them outside to gather branches and pine cones, she said.

With the pine cones, children can make turkeys, using the pine cones as bodies and tracing their hands on construction paper to create tail feathers. Googly eyes and a yellow triangle beak complete the simple project, Costigan said.

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, children and adults can work together to create a simple yet meaningful centerpiece using the gathered branches and construction paper leaves.

Have the children cut out leaf shapes, either using a stencil, pattern or free hand, Costigan said. On each leaf, the children and dinner guests should write one thing for which they are grateful. Tie the leaves to the branches using twine or ribbon and display them in a vase in the center of the table.


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