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Assembling the perfect Thanksgiving centerpiece should not be so taxing, nor so dramatic, that it takes away from the main event (turkey, or sides, or pies, depending on where your loyalties lie). Follow this three-step game plan for a soft, all-natural arrangement that feels like it fell right off a tree.
How to build a no-fail Thanksgiving centerpiece:
1. Set out some pastel gourds.
Of course there's a place for bright orange pumpkins, but now that your Halloween jack-o'-lanterns has passed, it's probably time to toss those fellas before they grow mold (if they haven't already). Pick out some oddly shaped ones in less saturated colors: murky greens, dusty ochres, yolky yellows, and white.
Spread them across a linen runner or right on the table, in a not-too-orderly arrangement. Big ones first, little ones scattered around them.
2. Add dried hydrangea blossoms.
Hydrangeas are so notorious for wilting—and yet so dang pretty—that my mom buys a whole plant of them when she wants to use some in an arrangement and cuts them right before guests arrive. This quick wilting happens because hydrangeas are moisture-loving, so if the air is too hot (especially during the summer), their petals will dehydrate faster than the stalk can rehydrate them. In cooler months, or in air-conditioned rooms, they'll meet a different and far more desirable demise: drying out.
Left, a fresh hydrangea; right, the same flower all dried out, about a whole month later (pretty similar, right?)
Whether you dry your own hydrangeas (upright, their stems in plenty of water, in a cold room) or buy them dried, as many flower shops sell them once fall arrives, they add just the right dose of softness to this centerpiece. Snip off the clusters with a few inches of stem remaining, and then tuck them between your gourds. They'll keep as long as you treat them gently.
Pick out a few condiment bowls or votive holders, top them with a little tea light, and nestle them between the flowers and gourds, taking care to keep some breathing room between so there's no chance this beaut becomes a fire hazard. Light them when the sun goes down—sadly, a whole hour earlier than usual these days—and serve dinner.
How do you decorate the table for Thanksgiving dinner? Do you have a go-to centerpiece? Tell us in the comments!
GIF photos by Rocky Luten