Affordable Centerpieces: Harvest Bowls

Normally I don’t post about little details, because BOY do we have enough places telling us that details are the focus of our day, and I for one have latent anxiety issues. But, every so often I get requests for affordable centerpieces, and I’m usually clueless. I spent years working as a professional non-profit event planner, and I would have paid cash money for good cheap centerpiece ideas.* But low and behold, fabulous reader Rebbecca sent me this idea.
We did “harvest bowls” (I made that name up) for our centerpieces and scattered copper-colored leaves on the tables. I didn’t think that the tables needed a runner after those additions. Putting gourds and fruit in a bowl was incredibly easy — it was finding the bowls that was the challenge.

I’m firmly in favor of centerpieces that can be eaten (and if you pick your fruit well, they inevitably will be, after some amount of drinking). My great aunt, who has Thanksgivings for 70 in her barn* does centerpieces like this on long tables with piles and piles of fruit and nuts. She would tell you that the key is to polish your fruit to a shine with rags. Which should give your flower girl a way to feel included.

*I can tell you what does not work, from first hand experience. Do not try pairing candelabras with red and black Mardi Gras beads, silver lame, and red roses unless you are intentionally going for a you-might-actually-catch-your-hair-on-fire-1984-phantom-of-the-opera-look.

*One of the many things I hope for out of a long and married life. First I need the barn.

PS – I am totally aware that I am now posting about bowls of fruit, but for gods sakes people, its two weeks before Christmas! Help!

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  • Great idea. While Rebbecca says these bowls are hard to find, I just did a post about how easy they are to find on eBay and at thrift stores. (It’s so true about drunken centerpiece eating, too.)

  • Lisa B.

    Dude, I am totally with you on the barn thing.

    And sadly enough, the description of the operatic candelabras made me go “Oooh, that sounds neat!” Before I read about the burning hair.

  • I love that bowl. I’d be happy with just one to put on my dining table.

    And this is completely unrelated to the centerpiece idea, but I want a barn, too! Although I may need 2 so that I can actually put animals in one of them. The second would, of course, be for happy family gatherings. Most people probably don’t want to leave a dinner party smelling like horses…

  • He he, yeah, the more edible stuff at a wedding the better, I say. Then you don’t have to think about getting it home the next day.

  • We are using wood platters with candles and pomegranates! I doubt anyone will be eating them at the wedding, but I LOVE pomegranates and am looking forward to eating them afterward :)

  • I’d say to check retail stores and the like after a huge holiday. My mom got us all our baskets for $1 a piece long after fall had passed.

    Of course our answer was to just put pumpkins everywhere, we got them free and everyone wanted to take one home for halloween. Not something everyone can do but it sure was cheap.

  • It’s ok. Bowls of fruit are symbols of bounty. And practical. And delicious. And you did mention a barn in there. And flaming hair. One day I will have a barn. And you will have a barn. And maybe a little sheep. Maybe I can carry my lamb around in a soup toureen. (See–you’re not blogging about soup toureens. That’s something. Though if you did, you would get to say “soup toureen” out loud. I’m going to say it right now.)

  • mel

    We are doing something very similar with granny smith apples (our fave!) My fiance has every intention of going around to different tables, greeting our guests, and then leaning in to grab an apple and take a big bite out of it, just to show people “yes, it’s okay to eat the centerpieces.” I found a tutorial to make simple funky cakestands, which will hold the fruit. At the end of the night, folks can take them home and put them to good use!

  • One Love Photo

    Oh it’s so pretty! I was at two wedding this fall with similar themes. One had baskets of pears for guests to take home. They were pretty green so no one was biting them at the party but I am sure a week later many pears were eaten and enjoyed! The other was big glass vases filled with satsumas. The Mother of the of the bride was quite excited to take them all to a food bank afterward.

  • i’m in love with the little mini-terrarium project posted at design*sponge yesterday – those would double nicely as table markers, and wee succulents like those are cheap, cheap, cheap ($1-$3 apiece, i’d say).

    of course, you know my favorite cheap centerpiece of all (for city gals who have access to bodega roses) – the cube o’flowers. two years after discovering it in belfast, it’s still the go-to arrangement in our apartment.

  • hey!
    i’ve followed you blog for a while now, and with my own wedding coming up, i recently wrote a post on my blog that i think you might enjoy.
    merry christmas!

  • Love the harvest bowl idea. Filling it with clementines, so fabulous, and an economical way to dress up your table. Thanks for the tip!