Autumnal Flower Arrangement for Thanksgiving
Creating floral centerpieces for the table is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving. When I was little, my mom would send me outside to forage for leaves and branches, berries, pinecones and flowers to decorate our Thanksgiving table. Maybe she was just trying to get me out from underfoot in the kitchen, I don’t know. I just know that it was always my favorite task and it still is today! Now I share that tradition with my daughter and my love for it has not faded one bit.
For this bouquet I went a little farther than the bushes and trees in my apartment complex but you can totally create something lovely by just taking a walk around your local landscape and picking what catches your eye. Making a bouquet is a little like shopping for dinner. You want to work with the freshest locally grown ingredients. And you don’t have to stick to just flowers. Fruits and vegetables, seedpods and branches even spices from your kitchen window herb garden look lovely and lush in a Thanksgiving table centerpiece!
Creating an Autumnal Flower Arrangement for Thanksgiving:
First I gathered up my favorite vases. It’s important to keep centerpiece vases low because you want to be able to see the person sitting across the table from you and not have to lean around a giant stalk of gladiola every time you want to talk. I found some urns that I really liked and a wooden box that I lined with a piece of plastic. Make sure whatever you use is water-tight. You don’t want any leaky messes on your pretty table.
Next I let my floral foam* soak in a big tub of water until it was completely drenched.This only takes a minute or two but you can speed up the process if you put something heavy on top of your foam. You can buy floral foam at most floral supply stores and sometimes even the floral department at the grocery store if you ask nicely.
Then I gathered my supplies and got to work. The flowers I bought from my local grocery store, fruit from the farmer’s market, pine cones from a camping trip and mint from my mom’s herb garden!
Here are some tools that are handy for creating floral arrangements but they are not necessary and you might have some garden clippers that do a much better job than my heavy-duty kitchen scissors. I didn’t use the floral tape but sometimes it can be useful for wrapping around wires that reinforce bending stems. I also didn’t need the floral stripper because none of my flowers had thorns but if you’re using roses in your bouquet, you might want to invest in a floral stripper. (They are really easy to use, you just clamp the jaws of the stripper onto the stem that you want to clean the leaves and thorns off of and gently run the stripper to the end of the stem pulling all the leaves and thorns with you.)
Next we set to work. I even let my daughter join in the fun with her own little vase. She cut the smaller stems with her safety scissors and I cut the thicker ones for her. You’d be surprised at how good children can be at creating their own bouquets. She was super proud of her work.
For the pine cones, we used wire to wrap around the base by simply catching some of the lower arms and then spiraling the wire around until it was secure. Then we cut the wire at a length that would be similar to a stem. For the fruit I used skewers and poked the sharp pointy end into the fruit and the dull end into the floral foam. Easy does it!
I also added some pheasant feathers for extra thanksgiving goodness and we were ready to set the table!
We put the leftover flowers in canning jars, wrapped them in some burlap fabric tied with string and sent them home with our guests!
It’s amazing how much a bunch of flowers can spread the Thanksgiving cheer.
Difficulty Level: Easy!
Appropriate Age levels: Five and up. Young children will enjoy picking flowers and participating in creating a center piece but they should not touch or play with the floral foam (see below) or sharp cutting instruments.
*When I first wrote this post I was not aware that floral foam is toxic if you are exposed to it over long periods of time (years). When I worked in the floral industry we used it all the time and never took precautions but since this is a website for families, I would advise that floral foam never be used around children. If you do use it, wrap it in foil or plastic and never let children play with the foam or worst of all breath in the dry particles that might slough off a brick of dry foam. Always handle floral foam in a well-ventilated area. Also, always soak it and keep it away from children. Another way to form bouquets without foam is to put a ball of chicken wire inside your vase or criss-cross strips of tape over the top of your vase. These methods won’t be as exacting as floral foam but with enough flowers it definitely works. And if you’re worried about it’s toxicity it’s better to be safe than sorry!