Creating a Foliage Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Author | Morgan Paixao

For me, decorating for the holidays and seasons means bringing the outdoors in. I’ve never been a big fan of holiday-specific things that need to be put away and stored most of the year. I think that’s the ‘wannabe-minimalist’ in me. Natural decorations can still bring out the spirit of the season and then return to the earth after the holiday has passed. It feels like such a win-win.

With Thanksgiving, I think about the table centerpiece as the main feature to highlight the holiday. Yesterday I met with Amanda Tutwiler, owner of Sparrow's Floral Design, to talk about how to create an elegant and simple centerpiece from foliage alone. For a lot of us, we don’t have flowers left in the garden to use, so this approach allows for a beautiful arrangement to be created with what you may have in your yard (or a friend’s, with their permission!).


The first step is to pick out your vessel. For centerpieces, you aren’t going to want anything that’s too tall. Consider the height of the vessel plus what will be added to it. Will you still be able to comfortably see the person sitting across from you?

Next, create a grid using tape - any kind will do! This will help support the arrangement. You can also use chicken wire balled up and place in the vessel, if you have some.


When gathering materials for your foliage arrangement, the two main things to think about are going to be - color and texture. You may be thinking, ‘Can a foliage arrangement really be that colorful?’ YES! Once you open your mind to the possibilities, you’ll start to see the variations of color everywhere, from dark to blue-green, juxtaposed to pale orange and tawny hues. Even more importantly than color though, will be texture. Texture is the foundation of this type of arrangement.

This style centerpiece is wild and carefree, so get creative! Adding dried pieces like thistle and grasses can add dimension as well.


Like a floral arrangement, you’ll want to think about the materials in terms of foundational stems, fillers and focal pieces. In Amanda’s arrangement, you’ll see how the magnolia leaves serve as the focal pieces. To me, they almost feel bloom-like themselves!

Most importantly, enjoy yourself! A foliage-only arrangement is going to be more forgiving, so don’t worry about messing it up. Keep moving things around until you land on something that’s pleasing and you love!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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