The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, December 22, 2002

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Centre of attraction
Chetna Banerjee

Spruce up your dining table with eye-catching centrepieces
Spruce up your dining table with eye-catching centrepieces

EVEN as you bring a taste of Christmas and the holiday season to your table by cooking up a feast for friends and family, don’t neglect your table décor. Bring the myriad shades and symbols of nature, in real or artificial form, to your dining table. Putting together eye-catching centerpieces needn’t be a laborious task if you can make use of the material you already have. Just a festive touch here or a trifle sprucing up there and you can assemble innovative centrepieces in a jiffy! Here are some ideas which you can act upon or innovate upon:

Seasonal fruits can be converted into candleholders
Seasonal fruits can be converted into candleholders

Fresh fruit centerpiece: Select any seasonal fruit that you’re likely to have in abundance, be it red apples, farm-fresh oranges, kinnows or freshly plucked guavas from your home garden. You can combine these fruits or use only one kind of fruit. This arrangement is to be done only an hour or so before your guests arrive. Wash and scoop out a small bit from the centres of apples, guavas or kinnows with a corer. Make sure that the scooped out portion is not too big but just enough to hold ornate pillar or tall spiralled candles. Place these on a formal bone china platter or a bright terracotta rice plate. Insert candles into them and surround with fresh twigs or other greenery. Nothing can match the tangy or sweet fragrance of fresh fruit.


Glitter-coated artificial fruits:
If fresh fruits are hard to come by or you want an arrangement with greater durability, you can use artificial fruits, which are commonly available in most crockery or departmental stores these days. Artificial pears, mangoes, apples, oranges, grapes and pomegranates that are kept on your table or in kitchen counter tops can liberally be stuck and coated with glitter or golden and silver dust to lend a festive touch to them. Arrange these on fruit-shaped trays that abound in the market or heap them on to wooden fruit bowls, silver or wicker baskets. Add a dash of artificial holly or pine boughs.

Assorted candles’ centrepiece: For this you can take out that special crystal pedestal bowl, place sequined or flower embossed pillar candles in the centre. Accessorise these with fresh green twigs and leaves, a small Santa figure, Christmas tree replicas, tiny metal stars, spangles or balls. Tall candles in other shapes---X-mas tree, female figurines or animal shapes---can also be used in place of pillar candles.

Artificial plants’ centrepiece: This is a perennial favourite as it can be made when there are no fresh fruits or flowers available. Artificially coloured leaves and twigs are available in plenty even at florist shops and can be combined to get a spectacular effect. An assortment of large dried leaves painted in fluorescent hues, dried winter flowers shaded with attractive colours and broom-like stems can be assembled in tall pillar vases. Or, if you want a horizontal arrangement, take a duck-shaped wicker basket or any terracotta serving dish in unusual shapes like fish, leaf, mango, etc, place a thick piece of thermocol in the centre and insert the dried flower and leaf twigs into it. Camouflage the thermocol piece by scattering confetti or small bits of cotton wool over it to create the feeling of snow flakes. No artificial arrangement in the X-mas season will, of course, be complete without pine cones.

Floating flames and fresh flowers: This is the most common centre arrangement. Whisk out an old brass or silver thali. Adorn its rim with a bead necklace or chunky bracelet or a freshly strung wreath of any seasonal flowers instead of using the common marigold or jasmine. Place perfumed rose water in it and set it on flames by dotting it with fancy floating candles. Scatter buds of seasonal flowers like chrysanthemum in between . 

Here’s an innovative centrespread ready for your feast table. Complement this arrangement by placing a silver katori with a floating candle at the place assigned to each guest.

Use variations of these ideas or mix and match to make yourself and your guests feel special!