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Paul Moseley, MCT
Silver and ivory elements and a white feather boa help to transform the mirror-and-crystal base into a sophisticated centerpiece for a New Year's Eve party.

One of the joys of the holiday season is rediscovering the dining-room table. Cleared of all the homework, craft projects, laundry, unpaid bills and dust, it gleams again, but it is barren. In anticipation of holiday feasts and in gratitude for the months of ignominious service, it deserves some decorating.

Usually armloads of flowers and candles will suffice, but that can get expensive and there is the matter of those unpaid bills. So this year a centerpiece that can go through the holidays and then on to New Year's with a minimal amount of expense seemed to be in order. A trip to the craft stores yielded the basic elements that provided a foundation for three seasonal centerpieces.

The base for all three projects:

A pedestal made of two mirrors and three inexpensive glass candlesticks was the basis for all three centerpieces. Because there are cats in the house, I used epoxy to glue the candlesticks to the top mirror. Mirrors were used instead of plain glass as the reflections helped to fill the space, but clear glass would work as well. A garland of green beads was draped around the edge of the top level and held in place with small green ribbons that were taped to the mirror. Spring green is a popular color this year, and it works well with brown, dark red and silver. These are the colors I looked for when shopping the craft stores.

Additional supplies:

Two bags of potpourri with large seedpods, and chunks of god-only-knows-what were found at Garden Ridge, a discount home store — one bag was primarily brown, orange and red, the other green and ivory.

A large swag from Hobby Lobby provided most of the other elements. It had silver poinsettias, silver stems, green and gold leaves, and dark evergreen needles. The total was truly heinous but when deconstructed, the pieces were separated into three piles of like colors. The green and gold leaves were combined with the brown and orange potpourri chunks. The red potpourri was singled out and all the silver bits went into the pile for New Year's. Some of the ivory chunks of potpourri were put with the red, and the rest with the silver. The remainder, the indiscriminate colors — too orange, a dreary beige or dark green — were taken outside, piled onto a dropcloth and spray-painted either red or silver.

I looked through the cupboards to see what could be repurposed from crafts past. Always do this before embarking on a craft project; it's often amazing to see what you already own or can reuse. I found tea lights, votive holders and tall candlesticks. Brown and green tapers were purchased, red votives and small white tea lights were leftovers from last year. Pine cones were found in the back yard. They were divided into three groups: one was left brown, and one pile was painted red, the other silver. There were plenty of acorns, too, but they looked too small to make much of a visual presence so a bag of walnuts was procured at the local farmers market. The walnuts were left au natural or painted red or silver. (When spray-painting, it is not necessary to completely cover the dried botanical components, it's better to let some of the natural color show through. It gives the pieces more dimension. )

Still, more filler was needed, and some feather boas (one brown and one white cut into two pieces) seemed an inexpensive solution, although clippings from the nandina, photinia or boxwoods in the yard also could have been used but would need to be replaced periodically. The elements that were photographed can last for years. Staying power was a primary consideration.

Tools needed

Wire cutters

Utility knife


Spray paint



Assembling the Christmas centerpiece: Top layer: three small fish bowls, red votives, one tall votive holder, one tea light, green reindeer moss

Bottom layer: Red and ivory potpourri, red pine cones, red walnuts, a few green and gold leaves

Assembling the New Year's centerpiece: Top layer: Four tall votive holders, four tea lights, white boa, silver poinsettia, ivory-colored potpourri, silver walnuts

Bottom layer: silver poinsettias, silver stems, silver potpourri, silver pine cones, ivory potpourri chunks, white boa.

Tallying up the costs

Elements used for all centerpieces:

14-inch hexagonal mirror, Garden Ridge, $5.99

12-inch round mirror, Garden Ridge, $5.99

8-inch glass candlesticks, Garden Ridge, 3/$2.97, $8.91

Green bead garland, Hobby Lobby, $6.99

Ribbon, Joann's, $2

Floral swag, Hobby Lobby, $20

Potpourri, Garden Ridge, 2/$7.99, $15.98

Walnuts, local farmers market, $5

Total: $70.86

Additional costs per centerpiece


Small glass fish bowls, Garden Ridge, 2/$3.99, $7.98

Red votives, Ikea, $1

Reindeer moss, Hobby Lobby, $4.97

Total: $13.95

New Year's:

Tall tea light holders, Garden Ridge, 4/$3.99, $15.96

White boa, Joann's, $3.99

Total: $19.95