Add a touch of autumn to your table setting with a Thanksgiving floral centerpiece! This step-by-step tutorial shows how to create a festive yet easy-to-make flower arrangement that will be the highlight on your holiday table.
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DIY Thanksgiving centerpiece
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and if there’s one holiday that calls for a gorgeous tablescape, it got to be Thanksgiving.
And though delicious food and drinks might be on top of your priority list, a beautifully designed table is a close second.
Flowers can transform any space, and a lush table arrangement will make your meal feel extra festive and inviting.
I went all in and composed a simple yet elegant centerpiece for our Thanksgiving table. In this post, I’ll be sharing all my tips and tricks so you can recreate this Thanksgiving flower arrangement, too.
Designing a thanksgiving floral centerpiece
Creating a charming Thanksgiving table centerpiece is more than just throwing a bunch of pretty flowers into a vase. Here are a few key elements that make a great table arrangement.
- Theme: Thanksgiving is the holiday to celebrate thankfulness, togetherness, and abundance. I like to represent these values in my floral design. For this arrangement, I chose a variety of seasonal flowers to express plentitude, a pumpkin as a symbol of fall, and stalks of Phalaris grass to represent the harvest.
- Colors: Pick a color scheme that fits the rest of your table setting. You can stick to classic fall colors or opt for non-traditional hues. I chose rich red and burgundy shades paired with a few white accents for my floral Thanksgiving centerpiece.
- Height + size: The arrangement should be narrow to fit your table. You also want to keep it low, so your guest can talk across the table, and it doesn’t hinder the view.
- Design: The centerpiece has to look great from every angle because there are no backsides with table arrangements. Use lots of varied textures to add depth and visual interest.
- Long-lasting so you can make the arrangement ahead of time and store it until celebrations begin.
- Portable: I also find it helpful to have a portable arrangement that you can lift up and move around as you set or clean your Thanksgiving table.
- Conversation piece: Flowers are a wonderful conversation starter and ice breaker. As a professional florist, I often noticed total strangers picking up a friendly convo about the flowers at wedding venues. And the same holds true at Thanksgiving dinner.
Materials & supplies
- Pumpkin: A pumpkin is a traditional Thanksgiving symbol and creates the focal point of the arrangement. I opted for a white mini pumpkin to contrast the ruby-red flowers.
- Flowers: Late November offers a variety of beautiful florals. You can still find classic fall flowers like dahlias and asters and early winter blooms such as ranunculus, and of course, year-rounders likes roses. I used a mix of apricot tea roses, salmon-colored carnations, burgundy dahlias, pink cock’s comb, and fluffy serruria “Blushing Bride.”
- Foliage is a great way to add incredible texture. A mix of red eucalyptus, crimson astilbe, Phalaris grass, Leucodendron, and pink hypericum pay homage to the changing leaves and a bountiful harvest.
- Container: A container defines the appearance of your floral Thanksgiving centerpiece. A long, narrow wicker basket acts as a makeshift vase for this Thanksgiving arrangement. I put a loaf pan inside to house the floral foam and waterproof the basket.
- Wet floral foam is needed to hold and hydrate the flowers.
- Cut flower food (optional) will prolong the vase life of your arrangement.
- Tools: You will need secateurs, scissors, and a paring knife to cut flower stems and floral foam.
- Wooden skewers: You also need 3 wooden skewers to secure the pumpkin to the floral foam.
How to make a Thanksgiving flower centerpiece
Step 1: Soak floral foam
- Fill a large bucket or bowl with water and stir in 1 tbsp flower food.
- Place the floral foam into the water. Don’t push the block down, but let it absorb naturally. The foam block will float first and submerge after a while and change color to dark green.
- For the best results, soak the brick for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Step 2: Prep container
- While the floral foam is hydrating, ready the container. Place the loaf pan or another waterproof vessel into the basket.
- My loaf tin was shorter than the basket, so I stuffed the ends with crunched-up paper.
- You only have to do this step for vessels prone to leaking, such as baskets or wooden boxes. It’s unnecessary for most ceramic, glass, or metallic containers.
Step 3: Add floral foam
- Once the floral foam is thoroughly soaked, trim it with a paring knife to fit the loaf pan.
- Then press the block into the pan.
Step 4: Place pumpkin
- Push the pointy ends of 3 skewers into the bottom of the mini pumpkin.
- Shorten the skewers and insert them into the floral foam. The pumpkin should sit directly on the foam.
- I placed my pumpkin off to one side. However, you can put it in the middle in case you prefer a symmetrical arrangement.
Step 5: Arrange foliage
- Now it’s time to add some greenery. Arrange a few branches of red eucalyptus throughout the floral foam, shortening the stems as needed.
- Then add Leucodendron, cock’s comb, and the hypericum berries.
- I added the foliage in small groups of 2 to 3 branches to create rhythm.
Step 6: Add flowers
- Insert serruria. Serruria is soft and flexible and a great way to cover up the edges of the basket.
- Next, shorten the stems of the roses, dahlias, and carnation to a length suitable for the floral foam. Remove any leaves and thorns.
- Fill up all empty spots with flowers.
- Gently push away the greenery to nestle flowers in between.
- Keep the flowers slightly higher in the center and let a few blooms spill over the edges of the container.
Step 7: Finishing touches
- Place the astilbe, and small groupings of 3 Phalaris stalks throughout the arrangement.
- Examine your arrangement from all sides. Cover any bare spots with flowers. Your floral Thanksgiving centerpiece is ready. Enjoy!
Tips for a beautiful Thanksgiving centerpiece
- Start with the focal point, the mini pumpkin.
- Add greenery in groups to create structure and rhythm.
- Fill in the space with large flower heads like roses, dahlias, and carnations.
- Use smaller flowers to create visual interest.
Try these tips to prolong the life of your fresh-cut flower centerpiece:
- Water the centerpiece. Add water to the floral foam every other day to keep the block moist. Using a water can add small amounts here and there throughout the bouquet.
- Avoid direct sunlight and heat. Keep your Thanksgiving flower arrangement away from anything that could dry the flowers out, such as heat vents, direct sunlight, or open flames.
How long will the centerpiece last?
The Thanksgiving table arrangement should keep well for at least a week. The carnations and greenery can last up to 2 weeks.
What are popular Thanksgiving flowers?
Thanksgiving flowers encompass typical fall flowers, year-round blooms, and early winter flowers. A list of Thanksgiving flowers and foliage may include:
- flowering kale and ornamental cabbage
- fountain grass
- autumn sedum
- oak leaves
- black-eyed Susan
Where to buy flowers for Thanksgiving?
You can buy flowers for your arrangement in several places. Your local florist carries specialty flowers that aren’t easily available anywhere else, such as Leucodendron or serruria.
Supermarkets and grocers are great places to purchase flowers for an affordable price. They often have a good selection of roses, carnations, dahlias, and eucalyptus. Keep an eye out for assorted bundles that often include interesting greenery and gorgeous filler flowers.
And lastly, if you’re the lucky owner of a garden, you might find suitable flowers and greenery there. Late November is the perfect time to harvest the last roses of the season.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Absolutely! I suggest creating the arrangement 1 to 2 days in advance so that you only have to worry about the food on Thanksgiving Day.
Can I make this with artificial flowers?
Of course! Silk flowers last longer than live flowers, so it makes sense that you might want to attempt this project with artificial flowers.
The instructions are essentially the same, but you will need a wire cutter to cut the wire hidden in the flower stems.
I also recommend replacing the green floral foam with a dry foam intended for dry arranging. These are usually grey. And don’t forget to use a fake pumpkin, too.