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An Easy Holiday Centrepiece


a beautiful, but over-the-top centrepiece. Photograph by Laurey W. Glenn for Southern Living

I was watching a show the other day where the hosts and guest designer created a table centrepiece (not the one pictured above).  It was lovely – laden with lush pine boughs, enormous pine cones, long sprigs of berries, a giant silver ornament and some stars wrapped in twine for a rustic touch.  And this lovely centrepiece took up nearly the whole freakin’ table.  I thought, “Wow, what a mess.”  Unless you had no plans to do anything on that table all holiday long, it would be a terrible centrepiece.  Where would you put food?  Or dishes?

So many “festive touches” this time of year are lovely in theory, but really impractical in practice.  Especially for me with a loveable but active two-year-old running around.  So I give to you: how to build a practical and lovely holiday centrepiece.


The idea here is to contain your centrepiece within a tray so that it is easy to move whenever needed.  It also means the pieces won’t scatter all over, or fall off your table.  What kind of tray you use will decide what style of arrangement you create.  A brighty-coloured lacquer tray could create a whimsical or modern look, or a sculptural carved wooden platter could create a rustic look.  For me, I used this pretty white ceramic tray I found at a used store.  It has a sort of pretty country look that suits my style.

My $9 Mikasa tray from Value Village


If you have no children or pets (or mature children or lazy pets) you could use any kind of candles you like.  (I tried taper candles at Thanksgiving and they were tipped over like dominos in under 5 minutes…)  For me I used candles in tall votives and in a tea light lantern because the flames are contained.  If that still makes you nervous you could buy battery-operated candles or even a string of Christmas lights.

That’s already pretty nice on it’s own, and might work for the post-holiday need for a pared-down look, but the beauty is in the layers at Christmas time, so…


For me, it’s as easy as a bunch of Christmas tree ornaments without their hooks.  I buy the plastic “non-breakable” kind from Superstore on clearance in January.  They hold up really well, but may eventually break (they weren’t intended to be used as hockey pucks, I guess).  However, if they do break they won’t be in a million tiny glass shards that threaten to devour little toes.

You could use pine cones, or branches, if you want, but I like these because they add extra sparkle and are super easy to arrange (and to clean up!)

And there you go!  A pretty, sparkly little centrepiece for your holiday table.

And if you need to use your table to have a cookie decorating assembly line, or play board games, or, you know, eat, you can easily move it out if the way in under 30 seconds.

And it’s just as pretty on the sideboard!

And say it’s time for the big Christmas dinner, or you want to set out a table of appetizers for a party, you can use all the same pieces for a more elegant look.

Use any fabric you like, or a scarf, or some ribbon, or whatever, and add a table runner down the centre.  You don’t even need to sew – some fabrics look great with raw edges.  I just ironed the edges of my fabric underneath.

Fabric from Ink & Spindle

Then take all of the other pieces and spread them along the runner.  The nice thing about the random arrangement of ornaments is that they can be pushed aside to make room for platters or pitchers.

The display with pillar candles for “mature” households

Or use lanterns to keep candles away from curious fingers.

And it’s as easy as that!  Now, why don’t you start surfing your UsedEverywhere site for used trays, ornaments, or candle holders, and voila!  Your trouble-free Christmas centrepiece is done!

I'm the wife of one amazing man, a mom of two wonderful little kiddos, and I love interior design, painting, pottery, diy-ing (is that a verb?) running, watching football, singing, the outdoors, ...and so many other things about this wonderful life I've been given!

3 Responses to “An Easy Holiday Centrepiece”

Aeryn Lynne

Wow! That looks so easy and gorgeous too! 🙂



    Thanks! It IS easy! 🙂

Andrea Tomkins



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