Style: Easy, quick holiday centerpiece ideas

Mary Carol Garrity
Tribune News Service

My friend Dede called me in a panic. She was decorating for a group’s holiday dinner at a local country club. As she stared down the long, thin, empty dining tables, she was stumped by what kind of centerpieces she could create that looked festive and full, were super-fast to put together and didn’t strain the budget.

Coming up with a centerpiece that looks great and takes just minutes to create can be a challenge, whether it’s for a fancy party or just your crew for a casual holiday dinner. After Dede and I brainstormed for a few minutes, we pulled together a centerpiece look that checked off all her criteria. The Nell Hill’s team re-created it here for you, along with a few other quick and simple centerpiece ideas you can make at the last minute for your own table.

Since the tables Dede was working with were long and thin, we found two fallen branches stripped bare of their leaves. You can snatch them from your yard or a local park. I’ve even been known to pull over on the road when I see a branch I love and drag it into my Jeep. Place the branches at the center of the table, overlapping the ends in the middle. Now that you have the base of the display, poke in a mix of faux or fresh pine greens.

We have a lot of adorable bird clip-on Christmas tree ornaments, so we perched them on the twigs here and there. Nothing says the holidays like candlelight, so we finished off the quickie centerpiece by placing white votive candles in simple glass holders in and around the greens.

Here’s another fetching but fast centerpiece idea. Put a wood cutting block at the center of your table to serve as a base. At the center or the board, we amassed a large group of simple white pillar candles in a wide variety of heights. We bracketed the candle cluster with a mix of evergreen picks. It you wanted to go natural, you could snip the greens from your evergreen trees or shrubs minutes before your guests arrive for a wonderful holiday aroma.

For a more glamorous finish, use faux frosted greens and add touches of silver and gold ornaments or picks.

A trick I use a lot when I need to create a centerpiece in a jiffy is to march similar seasonal objects down the center of the table. If you have martini glasses in your cupboard, turn them into glamorous vases filled with something festive and fun.

For our inspiration table, we used a thin mirror as a base. I love to use mirrors as trays when I’m designing holiday centerpieces because they reflect the lights and colors and make the display magical. We poured a few fresh cranberries in each martini glass then topped them with red roses, trimmed tight so they rest down snug into the glass.

Hunt through your china hutch and cabinets to see what type of glassware you have that you could turn into a holiday centerpiece. In this inspiration photo, we used a variety of cut glass pieces that were perched on pedestals, like sorbet cups and candy dishes. We poked different sized pillar candles in each then filled in with fresh cranberries.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at