Home & Garden

Build a centerpiece for your holiday table for $10

Designers Monica Cowsert, left, and Ashley Brown pose with a pair of centerpieces they made for ten dollars or less.
Designers Monica Cowsert, left, and Ashley Brown pose with a pair of centerpieces they made for ten dollars or less. The Dallas Morning News

For the holiday host, there’s no shortage of things to spend on: the meal, drinks, decor, gifts. Dressing a table doesn’t have to blow the budget, too.

Showcasing items from your home — and backyard — allows for a creative, budget-friendly centerpiece. Embellishing grocery store bouquets with a few simple touches elevates them from standard to spectacular.

We challenged Dallas stylemakers Ashley Brown and Monica Cowsert to use items they already had — along with a $10 budget — to design something that would give guests something to talk about besides the bird of honor.

As a blogger who writes about ways to incorporate antiques and family pieces into the everyday, Ashley Brown is always looking for ways to showcase heirlooms.

Brown put a dainty Royal Doulton figurine in a place of honor on her table. The 100-year-old collectible of a woman carrying flowers watches over guests atop a stack of cake pedestals. To give her even more prominence, Brown set the item, which once belonged to her great-grandmother, on a bed of floral moss inside a hurricane glass.

The glass serving pieces were also dressed with moss and a selection of citrus fruits in a variety of sizes and colors. Brown also made sure to layer space under the pedestal with texture.

Pepperberries were snipped into small bundles and tucked among the fruit and moss to add more dimension.

One key to a successful centerpiece is getting the height right. A simple solution is using books, and if they’re antique and in the right color scheme, even better.

Brown used a stack of books as the base for a wired and domed bird cage. She filled the metal accessory with shredded basket and gift-wrap filler. A strand of battery-powered fairy lights illuminates the paper globe Brown used as the focal point.

For more interest, glittered pine cones, fresh greenery and berries were nestled around the cage.

Playing off the bird atop the cage, Brown perched a small silver bird figurine on the corner of the books.

The biggest expense for this centerpiece? The lights. The rest of the items, Brown already owned.


When you’re in the wedding and events business, you see a lot of centerpieces, says Monica Cowsert.

Cowsert, who owns the Bird’s Nest in Melissa, says she has been inspired by creative brides who have used everything from pinwheels to photos to create custom arrangements.

One thing I like to do is make something that can be used in another way

Monica Cowsert, designer

Forgoing a traditional vessel for flowers, Cowsert instead used a portion of a downed tree branch. She added a few nails into the wood to help keep the flowers in place.

From there, she broke up a budget grocery store bouquet and placed the flowers on top, filling in with dried moss. She added a single hydrangea in the center for drama. Eucalyptus was also scattered around the base of the log, and Cowsert draped pieces from a deconstructed grapevine wreath atop the arrangement for additional texture.

This look, she says, can be easily replicated to make a major impression. “I had in mind doing not one amazing showstopper, but one that can be re-created on multiple tables,” she says.


Not afraid of pattern or color? Then add even more of it to your tabletop.

Cowsert is crazy for Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon pattern. She took a wallpaper scrap from her powder bath project and made a color copy and had it laminated. From there, a centerpiece was a just a few pieces of invisible tape away.

She taped the copy into a cylinder shape that would conceal a vase filled with fresh flowers and greenery.

Cowsert cut apart a wreath and used those grapevine pieces throughout the arrangement, encircling the base to bulk up the centerpiece.

“One thing I like to do is make something that can be used in another way,” Cowsert says. “When you untape the vase, you can use the copy as a place mat.”

You can also use a potted plant rather than a bouquet to fill the vase, and you can plant it once the party’s over.