Let's be real here, centerpieces can add up and easily consume a good chunk of your budget. Even a small, budget-friendly arrangement once multiplied can sink your budget, but that's not to say that you should ditch having centerpieces. Having flowers on your table(s) can really set the mood and enhance your party aesthetic, so what's one way you can have affordable centerpieces? Recycling.
Yes, recycling. By reusing common items such as beverage bottles and food cans, you can easily make your own centerpieces and save in the process.
1. Recycle Used Food Cans
The other day I was in a pinch. I had a cute little cactus that I needed to pot but had no pots left. Not wanting to leave the comfort of my home to go to my local plant shop, I perused Pinterest for alternative potting container ideas.
I came across a picture of a tablescape featuring cacti potted inside various food cans and thought it was genius, so I rummaged through my pantry and found a single small can of pineapple juice that had been forgotten in the very back and had long since expired.
After dumping the can of all its juice, I used a can opener to very carefully separate the top of the can. I was mindful to not tear too much into the label since I decided to keep it on. After thoroughly rinsing the can while keeping the label dry and intact, I added a layer of small pebbles to help with drainage before putting cactus specific soil, then once my little green friend was planted I topped the whole thing off with a layer of sand for a beachy effect. My little cactus now sits by the window as a little nod to my Pina Colada days of quarantine. Yes, that can was that old. :)
The great thing about reusing food cans for vessels whether it's for a plant or fresh flowers, is that the size is comparable to a mason jar. Remember when those were all the rage?
You can also choose to either remove or keep the labels on your cans. I personally lean towards keeping the labels on for a quirky nod, but for a more unified look, you can go sans labels.
Using food cans is especially great if you're going for a farmer's market/rustic aesthetic. I encourage you to check out images of flowers and plants inside food cans before you knock it. You'd be surprised at how darling an old Campbell's soup container can be with fresh flowers inside.
While this idea may require a bit of hoarding for a few months ahead of your event, you can always ask friends and family to rinse out used cans and give them to you. Sure, it may not be a gold urn or anything fancy, but if you're looking for something unique and different, especially if your venue is a backyard or somewhere with a rustic feel, cans are worth considering.
2. Go Thrifting
This one is for all my fellow thrifting enthusiasts who love perusing every nook and cranny of a thrift or antique store in hopes of striking gold, as I like to say. There's perhaps no greater joy than the rush of finding a hidden treasure behind a stack of old textbooks at your local thrift store! If you enjoy the hunt then I invite you to consider thrifting vessels for your flowers.
If you're not particular about your vessels matching or if you're going for a mismatched, eclectic look, then you are sure to find a wide variety of various items that can hold flowers. For starters, be sure to look in the kitchen department at your local thrift store. Many places like GoodWill for example, keep like items together which will make looking for pieces easier.
If you're wanting something really different and unique, you can always find vintage vessels with old designs and patterns. Even a mix of something like this along with clear glass vessels can make for a great tablescape or you can use this as a statement arrangement for a guestbook table.
An antique-looking mug such as this can be a great piece for a guestbook table, bar piece, etc.
With thrifting, you can have a lot of fun mixing and matching various items for your centerpieces. Just make sure the pieces you are getting are deep enough to hold flowers. Anything with a wide opening will require clear floral tape to keep the flowers from being too loose and possibly floppy.
3. Glass Beverage Bottles
Bud vases are among our top requests from clients when it comes to centerpieces. There is just something so whimsical and cute about glass bud vases along a table, but if you're on a budget and still want that look you can easily achieve it with glass beverage bottles.
Some of my favorite bottles for this are the ones that house kombucha because they are always in a darker amber and sometimes come with cool designs in the glass. They are usually a little fatter and sometimes squatty, depending on the ounce and brand, and its important to get a variety of shapes and heights for your tablescape.
We recommend that if you're having round tables you have at least three bud vases in varying heights and shapes otherwise the look may fall a little flat. You can also incorporate candles such as tealights for an additional touch. For rectangular tables, especially long ones, we recommend one bud vase per foot.
If you want a splash of art and color then you should check out bottled craft beer. I'm a sucker for a well-designed, eye-catching beer label and a trip to the beer aisle at my local Whole Foods never disappoints. It's like a mini art gallery with a large variety of craft beer featuring some amazing artwork. I can especially see using this idea for a fun laid-back event or even using one or two at the bar.
While I'm not inviting anyone to go out and buy massive amounts of beer, kombucha, soda, etc (unless you really want to), saving those empty beverage bottles and asking your friends and family for some is a great way to save versus buying bulk bud vases. After all, when the event is over let's say you're left with a bunch of glass bud vases you specifically bought and don't want to store them, what do you do? While we always advocate for donating and recycling, you may find yourself having a hard time getting rid of something you recently purchased. At least with beverage bottles, you can recycle them as you would've done in the first place anyway.
4. Use Mugs, Tea Cups, or Pretty Drinking Glasses
Have too many mugs? Me too. Mugs are among the easiest items to have too many of. For one they make an easy gift so every Christmas I seem to allot at least a couple especially when I participate in Secret Santa and White Elephant. Then there are the vacation mugs that compel you to buy them because there's no better way to commemorate the trip without it, right? Pretty soon your cupboard is bursting with mugs to the point where there's an audible clank every time the door closes colliding with the too many mugs. While I'm in the process of donating most of my mugs as I embark on my minimalism journey, I've found some that I think to myself would be perfect for holding flowers.
As a matter of fact, this last Mother's Day one of our most popular items was an arrangement in a mug. It made an excellent two-in-one gift and unlike a standard vase could obviously be reused every morning with coffee or tea.
While you may not want to do a single mug with flowers on a table since it will be too small, a few various mugs down a rectangular table or perhaps three on a round table will be fitting especially for a brunch event. You can also lay down slices of citrus and/or eucalyptus to tie the look together.
This idea may be best for a single table if you're having an intimate meal or if you're having a handful of small tables otherwise you'll need to use most of your own mugs or purchase a lot of them. If you happen to have a lot of mugs and decide to use your own you can always offer them as favors at the end that way they go to a good home while helping you declutter.
I'm sure there are many more nontraditional vessels out there that can make for cheap and unique centerpieces, but I hope that this list inspired you to create one-of-a-kind centerpieces for your next event.