17 Summer Centerpieces to Recreate for Easy, Breezy Entertaining
Set the table with ideas that evoke the warm-weather season like hydrangeas, fresh herbs, red-white-blue colors, and seashells from the beach.
Terrific centerpieces are a lot like great party guests. They add an extra jolt of energy to the room, attract the eye, and spark interesting conversations. Best of all, they don't make a great deal of demands on the hostess. With summer's abundance of ravishing flowers and fruits, anyone can easily assemble an arrangement that's lively, provocative, and unexpected. Simply put, it's not hard to create a centerpiece that's sure to be the guest of honor at any party.
Invite some friends over for a summer get-together, and set the scene with a colorful tablescape fashioned from a few simple craft supplies and affordable accessories. At the height of summer, décor tends to slant red, white, and blue with patriotic decorations for the Fourth of July; then, in the months that follow, naturally foraged elements like river stones and moss make for a casual dining experience. When the party's over, everything tidily stows away—even the table!—until the next fun gathering. Take the tablescape pictured here, for instance: A blue-and-white color scheme is crisp and unfussy. Mix in a red accent or two for a Fourth of July party, then let the colors convey a nautical vibe for the rest of the summer; inexpensive blue-and-white tea towels make great napkins and you can use potted herbs as centerpieces.
One of the best ways to get inspiration for centerpieces is to look to your table—the napkins, the glasses, and the food you plan to serve can all spark ideas. You might reiterate the rich blue of a tablecloth with bunches of hydrangeas, emulate the design of a plate's edge, or spotlight the same fruits you're preparing for dessert.
Scroll through our gallery and find more ideas for your table's centerpiece.
The Fourth of July isn't the only day when a red, white, and blue color scheme can be proudly displayed—it looks beautiful all season long leading up to Labor Day. Embellish a length of linen with grosgrain ribbon to make a runner, then use the rest remaining on your spool to tie off cutlery, add flair to napkins, or make miniature flags for floral arrangements.
A collection of candle-filled shells brings natural charm to the table. We used clam and scallop shells—which were each coated in lustrous metallic paint to give them a glamorous look and filled with melted wax—then added conch shells and sea stars to the display.
Shop Now: Florida Beach Weddings Irish Baking Scallop Shells, $7.46 for six, etsy.com; Martha Stewart Metallic Gold Spray Paint & Primer, $11.48, amazon.com; ArtMinds Simple Serenity Soy Wax Flakes, $11.99, michaels.com; ArtMinds Medium Wicks with Clips, $3.99, michaels.com.
These pretty herb-embellished votives are really a cinch to put together—and they instantly up the eye appeal of any table setting while adding a hint of fragrance. Snip sprigs of woody fresh herbs (thyme is shown, but rosemary or sage works, too) and tie three or four to each glass votive with a piece of twine. If you don't grow your own herbs, this is also a great way to make use of leftover sprigs from the grocery store.
Shells in a Tray
Seafood is in abundance during the summer, so why not use that pile of empty oyster shells? Here, we filled a galvanized metal candle trough with them—this one has built-in taper holders; however, you can set pillar candles down the center of any rustic tray.
Shop Now: LowTideBay Large-Cup Oyster Shells (in trough), $9 for 6, etsy.com; Terrain Iron Candlestick Trough, $48, shopterrain.com; Root Candles Timberline Arista Single Candles, 12", in Platinum, $4.50 each, rootcandles.com.
Vases Within Vases
Enhance your flowers by nesting small vases inside larger ones. You'll double the impact—especially when they're placed on a windowsill to let the light shine through. Start by filling a narrow vase with water, then set it in the center of a wider, taller container. Layer tinted-glass vessels in varying hues, so the inner silhouettes stand out clearly. For extra stability, you can attach a piece of holding wax to the bottom of the smaller vessel to keep it from slipping.
Shop Now: Crate and Barrel Modular Blue Glass Vase/Hurricane, $31.99, crateandbarrel.com.
Moss and Stones
Whether the materials come from your backyard or a garden center, it's easy to incorporate natural elements into the centerpiece of an alfresco dinner. Position stones down the middle of an outdoor table, and intersperse bunches of cushion moss (buy it from a reputable center, as some moss species are protected). Place votive candles along the sides to cast a warm glow over the arrangement.
Shop Now: Terrain Preserved Green Reindeer Moss, $24 for set of 3, shopterrain.com; Rain Forest Large Caribbean Beach Pebbles, $12.98 for 30 lbs., homedepot.com; Pottery Barn Unscented Filled Glass Votive Candles, $29.50 for 16, potterybarn.com.
To fill your dining room with golden light, group together these 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 a simple, summery way to celebrate the greenery in abundance this time of year: Set a handsome table using decanters, tumblers, and even an ice bucket or two, all filled with a dramatic mix of garden greenery and understated blooms.
Inexpensive and readily available, spider mums can be tinted to look like fireworks. Group blooms of different colors in assorted vessels for a dazzling display. Hold flower upside down by the stem. Spray the tips, twirling stem in your fingers to coat evenly. Give some blooms a darker coat and go lighter on others.
Terracotta Pots and Planters
Sun-kissed terra-cotta tableware can be collected into a centerpiece that'll withstand the weather. We bought the plates and tumblers, and painted stripes onto the decorative terra-cotta bowl. Salt and pepper cellars and napkin rings were sculpted from a few colors of no-bake air-dry clay.
Blooms and Butterflies
Single hydrangeas, a quintessential summer flower, make a big show inside tiny pails down the center of the table. Pictured here: a mass of blossoms creates a grander statement among the refreshments. Add winged insects, punched from paper and attached to wires, to flutter around the hydrangea arrangements.
Peonies are always worth swooning over. Create a pretty summery scene by placing brightly hued long-stemmed blooms in decorative bottles and floating single blossoms in small bowls, as seen here in this flower-filled garden.
Shop Now: Giara Hermetic Glass Bottles, $8.99 each, containerstore.com.
Mums in a Trough
This is crisp flower arrangement is pretty, easy, and fresh. Its secret is a grid of tape, which holds blossoms—such as these chartreuse spider mums—upright in a shallow container. The result is a centerpiece that's striking but not fussy, with a low height that makes it particularly conversation-friendly. (We used 20 flowers for an 8-by-12-inch galvanized-steel tray.)
Shop Now: Habit + Form Rectangle Tray, from $14, shopterrain.com.
Create an hors d'oeuvre centerpiece that recalls a vegetable patch. Buy a large, deep galvanized-metal planter from a garden-supply center, line the bottom with sprouts, and pour in enough water to moisten them. Arrange vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, carrots, radishes, asparagus, and cauliflower, in sections inside the container, varying the colors. Serve immediately with herb dip, or cover with moist paper towels and refrigerate up to two hours.
Shop Now: Southern Patio Rushmore Gray High-Density Resin Dish, $7.98, homedepot.com.
You can boost the height and visual drama of any arrangement with the help of a serving bowl from the kitchen or china cabinet. Set a vase inside the bowl, and then fill both vessels with billowing flowers. Our tip: floral adhesive will hold the vase securely in place but is easy to remove.
Crepe Paper Lotus
The balmy climates inspired our tropical party décor on display here: For lush centerpieces that will flower all summer, create crepe-paper lotus blossoms. Eye-catching and economical, they are simple to make—even for a busy host.
Shop Now: Lia Griffith Heavy Crepe Paper, $17.27 for 10 sheets, amazon.com.
With the right candlelight, a few natural references, and a little human intervention, an outdoor table can compete with even the most majestic scenery. The components of this centerpiece include candleholders wrapped in punched paper to evoke white coral and driftwood done up with spray paint to emulate branches of red coral. Beach rocks, meanwhile, anchor the gauzy tablecloth, and even the glasses have an opalescent, seashell-like shimmer.
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