18 Fall Centerpieces That Will Elevate Your Table
The fall season brings with it so many things—pumpkin festivals, leaf-peeping trips, Thanksgiving's harvest, and the coming of winter. And as the days grow shorter and the weather starts to cool, entertaining makes its move indoors. Elevate the gathering with a seasonal centerpiece for your dining table.
For a fall centerpiece, gather what's readily found in your backyard: fallen foliage, knotty branches, pumpkins, and gourds make great fodder for a centerpiece, which can be easily scented with cinnamon or other fragrances. Colors tend to be rather limited during the fall season with natural earth tones and fiery hues of red, orange, and gold. Focus on texture to bring out the colors of fall and add visual interest to your fall centerpiece. Think of dried wheat, fall vegetables, dark flowers, and other combinations that speak to your vision for the season. You can also create floral arrangements in traditional colors or a set of glowing lanterns to brighten the table. Your centerpiece can be made to match a Halloween party theme or use a variety of colors and sizes that can be arranged to create your own fall aesthetic. Earthy arrangements that incorporate dark-colored vegetables like deep-purple artichokes make for a great display on the table. And you certainly can't go wrong with fragrant sprigs of rosemary or clove sticks.
Decorate your table with anything that speaks to you: Pumpkins, gourds, nuts, flowers, candles, and other seasonal materials are all fair game. Whatever you choose, it's safe to say that all eyes will be on these tableau arrangements that perfectly mirror the bounties of the season.
Apple Garland Centerpiece
Craft a freeform garland from autumnal fruits, leaves, and dried flowers. We gently snaked it down the table, rather than setting it down in a straight, rigid fashion. To make it, start with the base: Lay down magnolia leaves, brown-side up. Be sure to leave space for any platters or dishes you plan to use on the table. Tuck in dried flowers, like amaranth, beneath leaves. Layer fruit (such as crab apples and pomegranates) down the center. Garnish with chestnuts, berries, and small autumn foliage on top. (For a different look, flip over the magnolia leaves to reveal glossy green.)
Primordial Patch Centerpiece
Orange you glad pumpkins and squashes come in different colors? This verdant vision includes blue Hubbard, Jarrahdale, Shokichi green, and La Estrella varieties, all draped in ferns. The trick to getting the leaves to look as if they sprang up this way is to lay them out to dry until they begin to curl (at least a day). Set the pumpkins in place, then arrange the ferns and pin to secure. If it's too chilly for alfresco dining in your neck of the woods, this centerpiece can usher the outdoors in, especially if you accessorize with specimen bugs and lifelike chestnuts.
Dried Flowers Centerpiece
Take a break from fussing with formal floral centerpieces, and display wispy dried branch stalks in different vases. For a snow-kissed look that transitions beautifully from autumn to winter, lay them on paper and spray them with white floral paint before arranging.
Low and Lush Centerpiece
For a low profile that encourages dinner conversation, set a block of floral foam into a shallow pewter dish and created a dome of sedum flowers, filling in the spaces with purple Queen Anne's lace, mauve hydrangeas, round star scabiosa, fuzzy foxtail grass, and spiked sea holly.
Feathered Dome Centerpiece
Birds' castoff plumage can add interest (and a shot of fall color) to an arrangement—or make one all on their own. The striking graphic patterns on this collection got us thinking about new ways to use a bell jar. Stand feathers up in a little vase, and add a few acorns. Another easy fall combo to display under a dome: a bird's nest and some dried oak leaves.
Yarn-Wrapped Branches Centerpiece
Branches become a colorful, sculptural centerpiece when wrapped with solid-colored merino wool and fleece. Gently pull a bit of fleece roving off the ball. Press end of fiber against a branch, and start wrapping tightly, gently pulling the fleece apart—without tearing it—as you go. Wrap the branch until the piece of fleece runs out, and then add more fleece as needed, going back over the last inch of wrapped fleece with each new piece. The friction of your fingers on the fibers and the natural oils from your skin help the fleece stay on the branch and adhere to itself.
During the last months of the gardening year, the color palette is more limited than in spring and summer, so texture becomes key. In this tall display, impressive on a buffet or a drinks table, feathery heads of rust-red amaranth were paired with pale-green protea, a more muscular tropical flower. Both stand out among lanky millet grasses, and lady's mantle fills in any gaps like a wispy green cloud.
Dark Leafy Green Centerpiece
Pointy green-and-russet sweetgum leaves star in this earthy arrangement, with support from the vegetable garden. Contrasting shapes and textures were added in the form of prickly deep-purple artichokes and smooth green (unripe) persimmons. This would work well on a coffee table where people are hovering over a cheese board.
Gourds Aplenty Centerpiece
Autumn's bounty has found its way from the field, creating a seasonal backdrop for a sit-down feast. Look for unusual produce at the farmers' market or pumpkin patch, keeping an eye out for moody hues and interesting shapes and textures. This display includes Black Futsu and Long Island Cheese pumpkins, as well as bowls of knobby black radishes.
Baskets of Bounty Centerpiece
Dress up plain woven bread baskets by painting them a single, glistening shade and fitting colorful fabric inside. For a lush centerpiece, insert a plastic liner, and fill with a mix of neutral, silvery-leafed plants along with flowers in deep purples and soft magentas. Here, we used mums, dusty miller, viburnum, globe thistle, and kale leaves—all inexpensive and readily available in fall.
A basic cornucopia basket gets a glamorous makeover, thanks to sparkly paint and fabric. Fruits and vegetables in rich shades of ruby and amethyst spill out like jewels. For a soft shine, brush the produce with an edible petal dust, a finish available at baking-supply stores.
Dip-Dyed Candle Centerpiece
This dipping technique works on pillar candles too. Center them on Dutch tiles, which will catch any melted wax. Stagger them at varying heights in mismatched holders for a display that adds visual interest without barring guest conversations across the table.
Dark Botanical Centerpiece
Even for a harvest feast, mismatching tableware is more en vogue than ever: Botanical dinner plates were the starting point for this table. A fresh color palette pulled from the floral pattern—yellow, lavender, brown, and gray—ties everything together. For the centerpiece, jewel-toned plants and squashes are arranged in galvanized trays for a display that takes mere minutes.
Pumpkin Vase Centerpiece
A white-pumpkin shell becomes the vase for an arrangement of roses, daffodils, ranunculuses, calla lilies, tulips, and hypericum berries in fall colors—yellows, peaches, and shades of orange. Smaller pumpkins and votive candles in orange-glass holders fill out the centerpiece.
Fallen Leaves Centerpiece
With a gilded touch, fallen leaves are transformed into a rustic, elegant centerpiece. Simply find leaves and bare branches to craft an arrangement. (There's no need to press the leaves; the beauty is in their natural form.) Spray them over with gold paint; let dry. Hot-glue them to the branches, then arrange in a vase.
Glittered Corn Centerpiece
For an eye-catching centerpiece, turn a glass compote into a horn of plenty with glittering Indian corn and squash. The trick is to vary the intensity of the sparkle by covering some ears completely and using the glitter sparingly on others. The squash needs nothing more than a glittered stem to shine.
To fill your dining room with golden light, group leather-trimmed lanterns holding beeswax pillars. A trio of varied heights is handsome enough to stand in for a flower arrangement, and comes together in minutes from basic materials: leather strips, brass fasteners, and glass hurricanes.
Here's an idea that's green in more ways than one: Bypass the florist and pick up a centerpiece in the produce section. Look for colorful root vegetables and bulbs with lush leaves on top, and display them in clear vessels of water to keep them crisp. That way, they can headline your table today, and make an encore appearance—chopped and cooked—in dinner tomorrow.