10 ideas for unique centerpieces
Zen sand garden
Find your center of peace with this serene and simple display. Pour sand into a large wooden tray and smooth until level. Place three river rocks (three being an auspicious number) in a pleasing arrangement. Using a wide-tined wooden salad fork, rake sand around the rocks and along the length of the tray in unbroken lines. That's it. Without flowers to fuss over or candles to worry about, tranquility should set in shortly.
Actually, it's not that complex -- just begin by removing the cover from an old book and folding the pages. For a book pillar, fold each page in half (parallel with the spine) and glue the first and last pages together. Fold pages diagonally or cut the book with a band saw for more creative silhouettes. Both hardcover and paperback books will work, but more pages (300+) give it a fuller look.
Bing: Origami instructions
Statue of imitations
Whether your hospitality personality is Downton Abbey formal or downtown boho chic, garden statues and sculpted busts adapt to both styles. Displayed among river stones, artificial moss rocks, greenery and loose informal bouquets, they evoke an English manor house. Mixed with mirrored balls mounted on black or silver mercury candlesticks, upholstery samples in rich jacquards and satins with black-flocked designs, shiny baubles and votive candles, they look decadent. Drape with vintage rhinestone necklaces for more eclectic glam.
Bring the romance of oceanside dining to even the most landlocked home. Fill the bottom third of a clear glass cylinder vase or fishbowl with sand, place a candle in a glass votive holder inside, then arrange shells, sea glass and other beach treasures in the space in between. If your "beach" sand isn't white enough, use table salt instead.
Bing: Seashell crafts
Chalkboard wine bottles
Don't recycle that empty wine bottle. Give it four coats of chalkboard spray paint and make it your new tabletop BFF. For a dinner party, inscribe your menu or list each course on a different bottle. Display table numbers for a wedding. Place it next to a cheese board to distinguish Havarti from jalapeño cheddar. When your guests remark on how clever you are, chalk it up to your repurpose-driven life.
Feather your nest
Bird's nest centerpieces are a perennial favorite, but they can feel too rustic for a sophisticated table. For a more elegant interpretation, use a feather wreath as the "nest." Attach a glass plate slightly smaller than the wreath to a silver candlestick, using a generous amount of adhesive putty. Cover the plate with a layer of Spanish moss, spray painted the same color as the feathers, and lay the wreath on top. For the eggs, spray paint wooden or paper maché balls silver, or use decorative spheres like sola crepe balls.
Don't mean to burst your bubble, but you'd never guess these softly-glowing spheres are modeled on water balloons. Melt wax in a coffee can placed in a double boiler, and fill balloons to the top with water and tie off. Dip each balloon in melted wax three to five times, letting them cool slightly between dippings. (Don't dip above the water level or it'll pop.) Rest them on parchment paper or a metal baking sheet while you dip additional balloons. Each balloon should be dipped between 15 and 25 times to achieve a wax coating between 1/4 inch and1/2 inch thick.
When the balloons have completely cooled, hold them over the sink and pop with a skewer or pin. Drain the water and discard the balloon shards. If you don't like the irregular edges of the balloon luminaria, heat the metal baking sheet on the lowest oven setting, remove, and then place the luminaria upside down on the baking sheet to melt and smooth the top rim. Place a tea light inside.
The topiary of Hampton Court Palace are hundreds of years old, but it takes only minutes to "grow" a faux one. Using a tall conical metal topiary frame, and working from the bottom opening, lay sheets of moss inside the structure interspersed with reindeer moss. Stuff the rest of the opening with Spanish moss. Turn the frame right side up and fill in the gaps with additional reindeer moss. Tuck in sprays of artificial florals such as ivy, wisteria, gardenia or miniature roses.
Wine glass lampshades
A yard sale or dollar store wine stem looks like it came from that frou frou wine bar when you top it with a colorful paper shade and drop a tea light inside. Scrapbook paper lets you coordinate your homemade shade with your décor and change it up for holidays and special occasions. The results belie the humble materials used. Chic doesn't get cheaper than this
Glowstick faux firefly jar
Remember the thrill of catching fireflies in a jar? Recreate a cruelty-free version of this magical childhood ritual with glowsticks. Wearing gloves, cut the ends off three or more glow sticks, shaking the contents into a jar and banging the glowsticks against the sides to mix and dislodge the liquid. Screw on the lid, shake the jar to disperse the liquid, place in a dark room, and dine by firefly light. But do it quickly, as the glowsticks dim after an hour. (Be careful when washing out the jars afterward, as the liquid contains glass pieces.)