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Three Pillars of a Successful Centerpiece, and How to Make One with Winter Citrus

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Holiday centerpieces can be as simple (and budget-friendly) as seasonal produce, some wood boards, and a table runner—so we partnered with ALDI to share our guidelines for assembling a cheerful cluster of table toppers.

At Food52 we follow just a few rules when it comes to making a centerpiece: It should never be so tall as to block you from seeing a fellow dinner table attendee, because that's just silly. Its scents, if scented, should never compete with what you're serving for dinner—so no stinky flowers, and no vanilla-scented candles when you're sitting down to a main course. Lastly, in the best-case scenario, a centerpiece is also modular, so you can add and remove components to make room for any food that's going on the table.

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So it's really not a centerpiece at all, but a collection of small, warming table-topppers to fill in around the food. Here's one we came up with using fresh citrus, winter's unexpectedly sunny produce, and how to assemble it yourself.

Runner, wood platters, candles, and pinecones? Check! Oranges and mandarins we picked up from ALDI? Check!
Runner, wood platters, candles, and pinecones? Check! Oranges and mandarins we picked up from ALDI? Check! Photo by Mark Weinberg

What you'll need:

  • Oranges and mandarin oranges or clementines
  • Pine cones
  • Glue
  • Salt
  • Baby's breath
  • Votives

How to assemble it:

To get the pine cones looking all snowy, you'll want to dab them in a little puddle of white glue and then roll them on a plate of salt. Set to dry.

For the centerpiece, spill some oranges of all sizes around the table, peeling some into curlicues and laying those out as well. Add the dry pine cones and tiny snips of baby's breath throughout, then place votives (in holders if you prefer!) in any remaining open spots. Use only a little of each component, keeping the whole assemblage loose and rambling. We used a table runner and a few cutting boards underneath, but you could set it right on the table—just be sure to leave room for the food!

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What fresh produce do you like to use as table-toppers? Tell us in the comments.

Tabletops, take note! We partnered with ALDI, using their oranges and mandarins, to illustrate three tips to follow when making simple, budget-friendly holiday centerpieces from scratch.


Our magical menu genie will plan your holiay feast for you.

Tags: ALDI, decorating, winter decorations, citrus