How to Make a Fresh and Festive Holiday Sparkle Centerpiece

A festive centerpiece is the crowning glory of the holiday table, and the best kind is the one you make yourself.

Overhead shot of a winter flower arrangement containing white mums, rose hips, ornamental grasses, and twigs from the garden, on a beige cloth with a gold and silver snowflake pattern, printed with green and white text.

And do you know what I love most about this one?

The container is an upcycled everyday item, and the gilded accents are materials gathered from your off-season garden.

Read on to learn how to make your own Holiday Sparkle Centerpiece!

Design Concept

In this contemporary-style arrangement, low-profile white chrysanthemums nestle in a sparkling silver square wrapped in filigree-style gold ribbon.

White mums and garden greenery arranged in a square silver container wrapped with decorate ribbon, on an off-white background.

Gold-sprayed rose hips, bee balm stalks, weeping cherry twigs, and the blades and flower stalks of lily turf add textural accents that glisten above a mass of downy petals.

Finished dimensions are approximately 12 by 12 inches.

For a long dining table, make three arrangements to place at intervals down the center. Mix things up a little with different combinations of silver and gold, white mums, roses, and carnations.

Project Approach

This is a five-step project that you can prep a day ahead for easy assembly the next day.

Day One:

1. Buy and condition the flowers.

2. Craft the container.

3. Gather and prep the twigs.

4. Prep the flowers.

Day Two:

5. Assemble the arrangement.

Necessary Supplies

  • 5-7 white chrysanthemum stems, with 3 or more blooms per stem
  • Bucket
  • Pruning shears
  • 1 half-gallon drink carton
  • Serrated kitchen knife
  • Tape measure
  • Marker pen

A collection of supplies used to make a flower arrangement including foliage gathered from the garden, white chrysanthemums, a roll of gold wired ribbon, cans of metallic spray paint, red and silver pruners, and a cardboard carton topped with a Scotch tape grid, on a melon-colored place mat.

  • 3/4-inch transparent tape
  • Silver and gold metallic spray paints
  • 20 twigs and stems
  • 5-7 ornamental grass blades from the garden
  • 2 1/2-inch wide wire-edged filigree type gold ribbon
  • Scissors
  • White craft glue
  • Water

Buy and Condition the Flowers

If you aren’t growing your own, white chrysanthemums are readily available in flower markets, florist shops, and the floral departments of grocery stores.

I was able to buy a pre-packaged “market bouquet” of seven stems for less than a dollar per stem from my local grocer.

A cellophane-wrapped bouquet of white chrysanthemums, set in an orange plastic pitcher of water, o a gray background.

Here are the steps for this part:

1. When you go to buy the mums, put a bucket or old plastic pitcher and a room temperature water bottle in the car. Put the whole bunch of flowers, wrapper and all, into the bucket with a few inches of water for the ride home.

Closeup closely cropped image of a hand holding garden pruners to trim flower stems at a 45-degree angle, with an orange plastic pitcher in the background, in a metal sink sprinkled with water.

2. When you get home, take the mums out of the bucket and unwrap and them. Cut about two inches off each stalk at a 45-degree angle.

3. Add lukewarm water to the bucket to a depth of about six inches. If a packet of floral food came with your flowers, open it and sprinkle it into the water.

Overhead shot of long-stemmed white mums in an orange plastic pitcher of water, on a cream-colored tile floor.

4. Put the individual flower stalks in the bucket and keep it in your coolest room until you are ready to make your arrangement, away from direct heat.

Craft the Container

1. Using a serrated kitchen knife, cut the bottom off the half-gallon drink carton to a height of four inches.

A hand holds a kitchen knife to illustrate where a cardboard milk carton should be cut across a line that has been drawn horizontally across the middle, on a beige granite countertop with a yellow tape measure and a purple permanent marker.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, as ribbon will cover a rough, uneven edge.

Half of a cardboard almond milk carton with a rough edge, with the removed top to the left, and a purple Sharpie market and yellow and green tape measure to the right, on a beige countertop.

2. Wash the container with mild dish detergent, rinse, and dry thoroughly.

3. Apply a grid of 3/4-inch clear tape across the top of each container, to create nine openings. Apply a second layer of tape directly over the first for reinforcement. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Half of a milk carton with tape across the top to make a grid, with a roll of tape on a beige countertop.

This serves as a guide for the insertion of flowers and accent twigs. Even if you accidentally tear it, there will be enough material in the container for a snug fit.

Overhead vertical shot of a roll of Scotch tape and a half-gallon milk carton that has a grid of tape on the open top, on a light brown surface.

5. Take the carton outdoors and spray the sides with silver paint.

A hand holding a can of spray paint sprays a cardboard carton on top of a surface protected with brown paper shopping bags, on top of green clover and grass.

Don’t worry if it gets on the tape grid, as it won’t show.

Use caution when spray painting. Do not inhale fumes and avoid getting it on your skin.

Closeup closely cropped vertical shot of a hand using a can of spray paint to decorate a square milk carton that has been cut in half to form a container for arranging flowers, with a grid of Scotch tape on top, on a brown paper bag that has been spread on the surface below.

6. Dry thoroughly outdoors or in a well-ventilated shed or porch.

Gather and Prep the Twigs

1. Take a stroll through your off-season garden and find twigs, stems, and ornamental grass. Collect about 20 stems and twigs, and 5-7 blades of grass.

Vertical image of a hand with an arm clothed in a dark green jacket, holding a fistful of greenery collected from the garden, on a gray background.

2. Cut each twig and stem to a length of 7-9 inches. Variation in the length of these is good. Grass stems of about 10 inches are best.

Overhead shot of a collection of various types of garden greenery including ornamental grass, rose hips, twigs, and more, cut to size and arranged on a round melon-colored place mat on top of a wood surface.

3. Use gold spray paint to lightly coat the twigs, stems, and grass. Do this outdoors, and take care not to inhale fumes or get paint on your skin.

Stems and twigs from the garden have been coated with metallic spray paint, arranged in a row on a brown paper shopping back, on a green lawn of grass and clover.

4. Dry thoroughly in fresh air or a well-ventilated shed or porch before bringing indoors.

Prep the Flowers

1. Cut each flower stalk to where the stems branch and remove all leaves.

Overhead shot of a branch of white mums with a yellow and green tape measure, a square silver container, and rose hips, on a wood background.

2. Cut individual flower stems apart.

White mums with stems cut to various lengths, on a brown wood background.

Lengths will vary from about 4 to 7 inches.

White mums cut to various lengths and arranged in a square silver homemade planter, with a red and silver pair of garden pruners, on a wood surface.

Variation in length is good, as it adds depth and interest to the piece.

Assemble the Arrangement

1. Use water from your bucket to fill your container about three-fourths full and begin to place one flower in each grid opening.

White chrysanthemums with stems cut to size, arranged in a row on a brown wood surface, with red-handled garden pruners and a green and yellow tape measure, two piles of rose hips and twigs from the garden, and a silver square-shaped container.

Use your biggest and best blooms first.

Two white mums with stems placed into the holes in a grid of Scotch tape on the top of a silver cardboard container, on a brown wood surface, with foliage from the garden that has been sprayed with metallic paint at the top of the frame.

Be sure to push the stems down into the water.

White mums in a square container on a round melon-colored place mat, on a brown wood surface surrounded by cut flowers and assorted garden greenery.

3. Place accent twigs and stems in randomly among the chrysanthemums, sharing grid openings with them.

White mums, rose hips, and garden foliage arranged in a square silver container, on a beige surface with twigs from the garden to the left, against a beige, white, and green background.

These don’t have to reach the water and may be placed as high as you like.

4. Fill gaps with your smaller blossoms, and any that are still in the bud stage. The arrangement should be full and tight.

Overhead shot of a flower arrangement with white mums and various types of greenery from the garden, with more to the left on a wood surface, and garden pruners to the right.

5. The final floral touch is the addition of the blades of grass.

Closeup of a hand curving a piece of ornamental grass into a loop to insert it into a flower arrangement, on a light brown wood surface.

Simply tuck one end in between the flowers, bend it around, and tuck the other end in to make a decorative loop and add motion to the arrangement. The ends don’t have to reach the water.

A yellow tape measure with a green plastic case is being used to measure decorative wired ribbon on a wood surface, with more ribbon to the right and a flower arrangement to the left.

6. Measure and cut a 16-inch length of ribbon to create a band around the top of the container.

Closeup closely cropped image of a flower arrangement with white mums, greenery from the garden, and loops of ornamental grass, in a square silver spray painted container wrapped loosely in wired decorative ribbon with more on a spool to the right, on a brown wood surface.

Bend the wire securely around the corners, and use dabs of white craft glue to secure the ends. Try to get the ends to meet at a corner to render them invisible.

Table Ready

Your finished arrangement is ready for the table!

Isn’t it amazing what you can do with an empty carton, inexpensive mums, garden debris, paint, and ribbon?

I love a project that incorporates elements of the garden and lets me be creative, and I know you will, too.

Overhead shot of a centerpiece comprised of white chrysanthemums, grasses, rose hips, and twigs from the garden, at the center of a table set with two white and orange plates with cream-colored cloth napkins tied with gold ribbon on top, with silverware at each place setting, on a cream-colored tablecloth with a gold and silver snowflake pattern.

Your dining table is sure to be a sensation when you welcome guests with a fresh and festive holiday sparkle centerpiece.

For more floral arranging ideas, see our articles on:

Let us know what you’ll include in your sparkling winter centerpiece, and feel free to share your photos with us on social media. We love hearing from you.

Happy Holidays!

Photos by Nan Schiller © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

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Heather Carr

Very informative, educative post. Good job and keep updating your knowledge, Nan Schiller!