Striking Centerpieces


Entertaining well at home need not be expensive. In fact, I find that I feed more folks better food, for less than a meal in a decent restaurant, when I invite them cen2home for dinner. Plus you can linger and chat all you want without neighbors overhearing your juicy conversations and eat with your hands if that is preferable… Entertaining usually includes dressing up your table a bit. Which typically means there is a centerpiece, and traditionally that meant some flowers. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be flowers and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. As I get older, I stray further and further from the traditional and have experimented with more unusual centerpieces, often with interesting results. I completely understand why many painters from the past 5+ centuries have focused on still life paintings of fruit, flowers and produce…their shapes are so natural, colors so striking and form so comfortable. But most traditional oil paintings or even photographs tend to feature western produce… say a bowl of cherries, some plump grapes, a ceramic vase filled with sunflowers…

So here are three different centerpieces I played with this past weekend at the beach. I didn’t have any flowers because we were to be there less than 36 hours so it seemed a waste to enjoy them for so brief a period. Instead, cen3I had all of those great produce finds from the previous post. Everything except the rambutans were a different shade of green, which made putting it all together a real breeze. All of them would have cost less than PHP70 if you had purchased the stuff just for a centerpiece… but since I will also eat all of them, these centerpieces effectively cost me nothing! The first, up top, is a huge, thick but shallow glass bowl that holds patolas, dalandans, kalamansi, chilies and miniature ampalayas. It looked pretty good to me! On the same table, I tried massing produce in white marble “boats” that I inherited from my mom. These modern “bancas” date back to the 1970s yet look so appropriate in our pared down beach house nearly 40 years later! I just piled them up with chilis and ampalayas and they looked pretty cool. Use light green placemats, white plates, green napkins and stainless silverware and you have a simple, inexpensive table setting.


Finally, I tried to use the same components in a wooden pedestal stand made from light wood painted white (overruns or rejects from a Filipino exporter that I bought for very little many years ago; they aren’t straight, but that adds to their charm). In this cen5case, the height added a bit more drama to the arrangement, though this is probably more appropriate for a buffet or side table since guests would have to “talk over” the arrangement if it were the centerpiece. What is striking about these arrangements to me is the fact that they use whatever was available in the local markets, didn’t cost much, looked quite soothing because they were varying shades of one color (green) and took very little time to assemble… What’s more, everything was edible and consumed in the days that followed!!!




11 Responses

  1. Superbly creative coming only from a brilliant imaginative mind. Truly wonderful to look at and perfect specimen for photograph and painting. You never seem to outdone yourself.

  2. For these kind of centerpieces, the containers plays a very important part. I particularly liked the white, marble boat centerpieces. They looked simple but striking!

  3. Great edible centerpieces! Love the contrast in textures. Thank you for an inspiring post, I’ll try to do a similar piece using local fruits and veggies . Considering it’s harvest time in Europe, then there’s plenty to choose from.



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