20 Picture-Perfect Centerpiece Ideas You Can Do in 5 Minutes

The supplies you need are probably in your fridge—or outside in your yard.

Centerpiece ideas - centerpieces, simple table decoration ideas
Photo: Getty Images

Whether you're prepping for a casual weekend brunch or a celebratory soiree, adding some DIY centerpieces to your spread can take the occasion up a notch. Your guests will appreciate that you put a little extra time and effort into the party, and you'll have a picture-ready piece of décor that sets the tone for the whole event. (You'll also have earned a few bragging rights.) Best of all, your charming centerpieces could influence others in your circle—before you know it, everyone will be putting together simple centerpieces to zhoosh their tables.

Opting for seasonal table decorations (like pumpkin centerpieces) is fine, but so is creating one that works for any season. The key to a simple centerpiece is letting it speak for itself and not getting too hung up on one (relatively small) component of the party. After all, the purpose of the occasion is to enjoy spending time with other people.

There are centerpieces that suit everything from a backyard party to a graduation celebration. Make sure yours pairs well with your skillset, crafting supplies, and available time, and this bit of party décor will shine. At the very least you'll get an A for effort—though these fail-proof ideas are sure to shine.

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Wishing Well

Centerpiece of curled paper notes on a cake stand
Levi Brown

Here is an interactive and heartfelt way to celebrate someone—Mom, a recent graduate, or an expectant parent. Pass around strips of paper about 6 inches long and ask guests to write a message (like a wish, a memory, or a piece of advice) for the honoree. Twist the papers around a pen to curl them, then toss them into a large bowl. Have the guest of honor read the messages aloud during dessert.

02 of 21

Charming Container

Flowers and plates on a dining table
James Merrell

Big blossoms, such as hydrangeas, roses, and peonies, look gorgeous displayed in an unused serving piece, like a soup tureen.

03 of 21

Related: Easy 15-Minute Party Centerpieces

Dress up your home with these stylish vases that take just minutes to make.

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Floating Fruit

Vases with green apples floating in water as centerpieces
Anita Calero

Float bright Granny Smiths in large, clear-glass vases (filled to different levels) for a whimsical still life.

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Sweet Stash

Lollipop bouquet as centerpiece
Anita Calero

A bouquet of colorful pinwheel lollipops stands steadily and cheerfully in a bucket packed with dry sand.

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Creative Combo

Sweet peas in cabbage flower arrangement
James Baigrie

The rich tones of sweet peas and cabbages (yes, cabbages) work together beautifully in a creative combination.

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Natural Pairing

Centerpiece made of pomegranates and plums
Maura McEvoy

Add jewel-toned fruit to a white bowl with sensuous lines for an easy arrangement. Look for fruits of differing sizes and shapes but with similar coloring, as with these plums and pomegranates.

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Silver Bells

Hershey Kisses in a vase
Anita Calero

What could be more delicious than a large-footed vase sparkling with foil-wrapped treats?

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Citrus Twist

Real Simple November 2002
Maura McEvoy

Pair smooth objects (lemons) with smaller, textured ones (nuts) for a compelling composition. Show it off in a glass bowl with a pedestal for drama.

10 of 21

Colorful Cocktails

Bottles of soda as centerpiece
Anita Calero

An array of brightly colored sodas or juices add a fun note to a dinner.

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Paper Pom Poms

Bouquet of paper flowers
Quentin Bacon

On a steamy night, set a casual table with a bouquet of hot-colored paper flowers, guaranteed not to wilt.

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Daisy Toppers

Daisies inside oranges flower arrangement
James Baigrie

Bring a splash of sunshine to your meal with a vibrant partnering of daisies and oranges.

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Fruit Fillers

Citrus fruit and Peruvian lillies in a glass fish bowl flower arrangement
James Baigrie

This tone-on-tone assemblage starts with miniature citrus fruits (key limes, kumquats) and Peruvian lilies bursting with color.

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Modern Fruit Display

Red pears and grapes displayes on pedestals
Anita Calero

Flip containers (here, acrylic boxes and lids) upside down and arrange fruit on top to create a multitiered design.

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Row of Daisies

Wheatgrass Arrangement
James Baigrie

A field of gerbera daisies and wheatgrass "grow" charmingly in a rustic table runner.

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Mix and Match Vessels

Floral arrangement in a jelly mold
Marcus Nilsson

Line floral arrangements down your table―if you don't have enough vases, cake tins, jelly molds, and small ice buckets make surprisingly pretty containers. For a bit of illumination, you can also add a few flameless candles in between arrangements.

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Lush Carnation Display

Centerpiece made of carnations
Maura McEvoy

Two humble elements—a wooden salad bowl and carnations—add up to something special. Cut the stems to 3 or 4 inches, arrange them in a glass dish, and place them in the bowl.

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Seasonal Substitution

Flower centerpiece in pumpkin vase
David Prince

Trim off the top of a pumpkin and hollow out the seeds. Arrange fresh flowers in a water-filled jar and place inside, or use dried leaves and twigs.

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Heavy Metal

Centerpiece made of leaves on a table with bread and wine
Maura McEvoy

A galvanized tub becomes the base for a gathering of oversize leaves, like these from a magnolia.

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Autumnal Delight

Doily-and-pinecone holiday display
Annie Schlechter

For holiday decor, arrange pinecones—spray-painted gold or silver, if you wish—in vases and compotes of staggered sizes, and add festive ribbon.

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Branching Out

Foliage painted white as centerpiece
Anita Calero

Branches, whether artificial or the real deal, look striking in an arrangement. In a well-ventilated outdoor space, spray them with white paint, let dry, then display them in glass bottles or vases.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What makes a good centerpiece?

    A good centerpiece is pleasing to the eye, doesn’t block a guest’s view, and is cohesive with the party’s theme. If using flowers, make sure they are fresh and properly trimmed. For any centerpiece, be sure it is appropriately scaled for the size of the table.

  • What can I put in my centerpiece besides flowers?

    There are several items you can put in a centerpiece besides flowers. Some common filler ideas include branches, fruit, candy (like chocolate kisses), or pinecones. If you’re planning a child’s party, other whimsical fillers include lollipops, drink bottles, paper pom poms, or curled ribbons.

  • How many centerpieces do I need?

    For round tables, one centerpiece should be plenty. However, use larger centerpieces for larger round tables. For rectangular tables, consider spacing out one centerpiece every 3 to 4 feet. So a four-foot table would have one centerpiece in the center, and an eight-foot table would have two centerpieces spaced equally apart.

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