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Steve Rice, MCT
Minneapolis florist Anne Schultz shares tips on how a few simple additions could transform a $7.99 grocery store bouquet into stunning place-setting decor and a beautiful centerpiece.

This is the time of year you like your tabletop to shine. The Star Tribune asked Minneapolis florist Anne Schultz to show us how a few simple additions could transform a $7.99 grocery store bouquet into stunning place-setting decor and a beautiful centerpiece. Here are her tips.

The Original Bouquet:

— Four green spider mums

— Four red roses

— Two stems of red hypericum berries

— Three stems of red alstroemeria

— Two ferns

— Two red mini carnations

— One craft foam "apple" on a stick

She Removed:

— Foam apple. "Cheesy, unless you're a teacher!"

She Added From Her Yard:

— Crabapple branches with berries

— Dogwood branches

— White pine boughs

How to: Table Setting

— Unbundle bouquet.

— Assemble a group of small containers of different heights for individual bouquets. "This way, everyone has a nice keepsake to take home," Schultz said.

— Schultz clipped pine, dogwood and crabapple branches from her yard for the vases, and mixed and matched the roses, alstroemeria and mini carnations among the bottles.

— Cut additional blossoms from the bouquet to set on the tabletop and teacup saucer.

— Use ferns from the bouquet as placemats.

— Tie a sprig of crabapple and pine onto the napkin with a thin, wispy ribbon.

Other Tips:

— If the roses in your purchased bouquet don't look great, Schultz suggests you "petal" it: "Make a runner of rose petals in front of your plate or down the center of your table."

— Mix glass and ceramics on your table. "Mixing coordinating but different items, you get a cohesive feel that makes the table more interesting. It's unexpected."

— Use a teacup saucer as a container elsewhere on the table. "They make a real beautiful dish to float flower heads in with just a bit of water; they don't need much for the evening," she said. Any flower with a large head that opens fairly flat will work — rose, mum, daisy, carnation, gerbera daisy. "You can cut it right off at the stem and it sits fairly flat," she said.

— Add ribbon with care. "Big, beautiful ribbons are often out of scale to tiny berries," Schultz said. "Make sure your scale is appropriate to the flower you're working with."

— Ditto for twigs. "Sometimes it can look like a funny stick; you just need to play with it."

How to: Centerpiece

— Unbundle bouquet.

— Start with a vase about 7 inches in diameter.

— Gather greens cut earlier from the yard in one hand. "Always start with a base of greens that are so beautiful they can stand alone in a vase as a bouquet," she said. "If you don't have good greens, you will struggle the whole way through and be frustrated."

— Hold greens up to the container to determine the desired height; cut and place in container.

— Hold one flower up to the container to determine the desired height; make the cut, allowing enough length to recut if you need to adjust the height.

— Place the flower outside the greens.

— Turn the vase slightly and repeat the previous step, but place the next flower inside the greens. Continue until you are all the way around the vase.

— Now turn the vase completely around in one turn, looking for even height and distribution from all sides. Add where you see a hole.

— Holes can be difficult to spot. "Shoot some pictures of it with your cell phone or digital camera from all sides and look at it," Schultz said. "It's amazing what you see in a photograph that you don't see when you're looking at it."

Other Tips:

— Forage your back yard for additions. In addition to the crabapple, dogwood and white pine boughs, Schultz said good additions include evergreens of all kinds, pine cones, grapevine, seedheads, pods and cattails.

— Ignore the rules. "I know there are a lot of people who say you have to have your bouquet one and a half times taller than the vase it's in," Shultz said. "I think if you can pick it and it looks beautiful to you, you'll always be in a good place instead of stressing out. If we're always stuck by rules, how are you going to experiment and come up with something really cool?"

— Six to 12 stems of items you cut from your yard or purchased additionally will fill out the grocery bouquet to where it can easily preside over a table for 10.

— If you're cutting items from your yard in cold weather, do it at least 24 hours before using it on your table. "Some items may have frozen and when they warm up, they turn brown and mushy. You don't want to be running around at the last minute trying to replace something."

— Give yourself an hour if you are just learning. Her advice: "Gather items, play with them, be content with that. After your hour, walk away. Come back a half- hour before your dinner party. If you want to tweak, do. If you don't, just enjoy yourself."

— Add ribbon with care. "Big, beauiful ribbons are often out of scale to tiny berries," Schultz said. "Make sure your scale is appropriate to the flower you're working with."

— Ditto for twigs. "Sometimes it can look like a funny stick; you just need to play with it."

How to: Centerpiece

— Unbundle bouquet.

— Start with a vase about 7 inches in diameter.

— Gather greens cut earlier from the yard in one hand. "Always start with a base of greens that are so beautiful they can stand alone in a vase as a bouquet," she said. "If you don't have good greens, you will struggle the whole way through and be frustrated."

— Hold greens up to the container to determine the desired height; cut and place in container.

— Hold one flower up to the container to determine the desired height; make the cut, allowing enough length to recut if you need to adjust the height.

— Place the flower outside the greens.

— Turn the vase slightly and repeat the previous step, but place the next flower inside the greens. Continue until you are all the way around the vase.

— Now turn the vase completely around in one turn, looking for even height and distribution from all sides. Add where you see a hole.

— Holes can be difficult to spot. "Shoot some pictures of it with your cell phone or digital camera from all sides and look at it," Schultz said. "It's amazing what you see in a photograph that you don't see when you're looking at it."

Other tips

— Forage your back yard for additions. In addition to the crabapple, dogwood and white pine boughs, Schultz said good additions include evergreens of all kinds, pine cones, grapevine, seedheads, pods and cattails.

— Ignore the rules. "I know there are a lot of people who say you have to have your bouquet one and a half times taller than the vase it's in," Shultz said. "I think if you can pick it and it looks beautiful to you, you'll always be in a good place instead of stressing out. If we're always stuck by rules, how are you going to experiment and come up with something really cool?"

— Six to 12 stems of items you cut from your yard or purchased additionally will fill out the grocery bouquet to where it can easily preside over a table for 10.

— If you're cutting items from your yard in cold weather, do it at least 24 hours before you are using it on your table. "Some items may have frozen and when they warm up, they turn brown and mushy. You don't want to be running around at the last minute trying to replace something."

— Give yourself an hour if you are just learning. Her advice: "Gather items, play with them, be content with that. After your hour, walk away. Come back a half-hour before your dinner party. If you want to tweak, do. If you don't, just enjoy yourself."

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.