The elements: Oversize dried leaves, like these from a magnolia; $8 for 10 leaves, the Depot, flowerdepotstore.com.
The container: A galvanized tub or any opaque container that hides the stems.
The tip: Make sure the stems aren't all the same length. The arrangement should mimic the natural, free-flowing form of the leaves themselves.
The elements: One dozen pillar candles of various heights and widths.
The container: A shallow platter, tray, bowl, or pan.
The tip: Make sure no candles of the same height sit side by side. This centerpiece also looks great on a coffee table.
The elements: One dozen lemons (about $7), one pound hazelnuts (about $5), and three small branches of lemon leaves.
The container: Any glass bowl―preferably with a pedestal, for added drama―such as this clear glass compote.
The tip: Juxtaposing large, smooth, shiny objects (lemons) with smaller, textured ones (nuts) creates a compelling composition.
The elements: Six pomegranates (about $1.50 each) and two dozen Italian plums (about $1.50 a pound) or fresh figs (about $4.50 apound).
The container: Any white bowl with a sensuous line.
The tip: When you mix two fruits, their size and shape should be different, but the tonality of the colors should be the same, as with these jewel-toned plums and pomegranates.
The elements: Eight dozen red carnations (about $8.50 a dozen).
The container: A wooden salad bowl.
The tip: When working with mundane materials, the more the merrier. Cut stems to three or four inches, depending on the size of the bowl. Put a glass dish inside for water. Carnations are hardy, so if you change the water every few days, this arrangement should last two weeks.