I Tried Joanna Gaines’ Clever Centerpiece Hack and I’m Never Going Back

published Nov 6, 2023
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Evergreen arrangement on dining room table.
Credit: Alyssa Longobucco

Whether it’s a festive celebration or just a little holiday I like to call “Saturday,” having people over for good food, great wine, and even better company is my love language. Maybe it’s the Italian nonna in me, but I believe one of the best ways to show appreciation for your friends and family is to organize a beautiful meal — complete with aesthetically pleasing decor. 

Before I had two kids under 3 to wrangle, I’d spend days creating the perfect tabletop scene, from special linens and collected place settings to blowing my budget on blooms at the New York City flower market. These days, simplicity is the name of the game: I’m always looking for designs with major impact that require little effort. 

Enter: this easy-as-can-be centerpiece hack from Joanna Gaines, the design maven known for her approachable, thoughtful style. Her go-to approach? Branches or foliage in a simple glass vase. The unassuming combo has major star power when done right, and you can easily customize it for any occasion by swapping out the filler with whatever’s in season. Rely on found branches (from your own backyard!) or store-bought boughs to bring a festive outlook to your table without breaking the bank or sucking up your entire afternoon. 

With on the horizon, I figured there was no better time to put this simple standard to the test. Below, you’ll find five different ways to interpret Joanna’s centerpiece hack: one for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas, one for Hanukkah, one for New Year’s Eve, and a general festive idea you can use throughout the season (gotta love that!). 

Credit: Alyssa Longobucco

Thanksgiving: Foliage-Covered Branches

Tree branches erupting with festive colors are perfectly appropriate for the season of thanks. However, finding a downed branch with a bunch of beautiful leaves intact isn’t the easiest task — and cutting from a tree feels pretty wrong. The solution? A Franken-branch! To create this look inspired by this pressed leaves and branches bouquet, I took a quick walk to collect colorful fallen leaves, then pressed them in a book overnight to flatten and dry them out. The next day, I attached them to two scraggly sticks I found in my yard using hot glue, transforming them into foliage-covered branches that would make any leaf peeper jealous.

Credit: Alyssa Longobucco

Hanukkah: Blue Thistle 

Incorporating blue and silver is a no-brainer for a Hanukkah celebration, but they’re not always the easiest hues to find in natural foliage. However, blue thistle, as its name implies, perfectly plays into the holiday palette. As a bonus, thistle blooms make an impact with their inherent dimension for a modern twist on the traditional centerpiece. Pile your stems into a ribbed vase, which gives off a silver glimmer, or spring for a mercury glass design to really bring the shine. Need to fill a longer table? Thistle sprigs also look great solo, so feel free to incorporate mini bud vases, too. 

Credit: Alyssa Longobucco

Christmas: Evergreen Boughs

It’s so easy to find fresh evergreen boughs during the holiday season. Seriously, one trip to Trader Joe’s and your centerpiece is set. You could also ask your Christmas tree seller for any offsets, have them trim excess boughs when you get your fresh cut on the base, or snip some stems from your backyard if you have a surplus of conifers. When placed in a vintage-inspired balloon glass vase, the wintry branches immediately bottle the feel of a Dickensian Christmas, bringing a to your dining scene. 

Credit: Alyssa Longobucco

New Year’s Eve: Metallic Branches

Metallics and New Year’s Eve are a match made in design heaven. To create an eye-catching New Year’s Eve centerpiece, spray-paint your branch or foliage of choice with silver and gold metallic paint. I used olive branches because I love the layered meaning they bring to the occasion (they’re said to represent peace and love — something I think we could all use more of in the coming year), but this shimmering treatment would look just as good on bare wood branches from your winter landscape. 

Credit: Alyssa Longobucco

General Holiday: Eucalyptus and Velvet Ribbon

Sometimes you want your dinner party to feel festive but not tied to a singular theme. This arrangement is the solution for you. You can make any bundle of branches or sprigs of greenery feel special when you tie a velvet ribbon around the stems and place them in the vase. I love how this rich navy plays off of the green of the eucalyptus branches, but you could choose any hue, from burgundy for Thanksgiving to candy cane red for Christmas.

 

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