center of attention 3
Image: Owen Carey

Set the table

If your room allows it, don’t shy from creating a fairly large grouping at the center of the table. Play with different widths and heights of containers—the end result will look like one large container, but the space created in between the vessels allows them to breathe, adding depth and dimension. You can also keep your creations looking beautiful for some time after your party by giving your flowers a fresh cut and clean water (including the bleach and sugar water) every few days.

Choose for the Season

Floral designer Kathy Kelly used summer blooms like dahlias, roses, and hydrangeas for Julie Stott’s centerpieces. But if you are throwing a fall or winter bash, here are some of her recommendations: Try arrangements of conifers; branches with red and yellow pops of color; foliage like magnolias, eucalyptuses and bay; berries like Hawthorne, viburnum, ilex, and bittersweet; or winter bulbs like paper whites, amaryllis, and hyacinth. Kelly also recommends combining roses and carnations in the winter—although not the most beautiful bloom, carnations come in a large array of colors. When grouped with similar-colored roses, it’s a pleasant mix of texture. Kelly also recommends alstameria, which lasts a long time, comes in a variety of colors and is relatively inexpensive. Orchid blossoms, although more expensive, pair very well with winter arrangements, and last almost twice as long as cut flowers. Kelly buys her blooms at the Portland Flower Market, however, they sell to the trade only. So Kelly recommends Trader Joe’s (multiple locations, traderjoes.com), Costco (multiple locations, costco.com) and your local farmers’ markets to pick up high-quality, inexpensive blooms.