Mini forests for your table

Create nature-inspired centerpieces with twigs, leaves and candles

30-inch twigs

Tiny holes drilled into a slate tile make snug footings for 30-inch twigs.

Christina Schmidhofer

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Channel the spare beauty of fall with striking arrangements for your holiday table. Inspired by the season's sculptural forms-leafless branches, reeds rising from placid waters, fallen leaves carpeting the earth-these centerpieces cluster natural materials around a single large candle or a series of small votives. Make one with clippings from your own garden for an easy, organic way to add drama to your home.

Build a tablescape

Start with slender but sturdy dried plant material from your garden or a craft or florists' supply store.

1. Select your base: a piece of plywood or wood, or a slate or terra-cotta floor tile.
2. Lay out a geometric hole pattern around the candle(s). For safety, ensure that nothing is too close to the flame.
3. Use an electric drill with a wood or masonry bit that is slightly smaller than the stems' diameter.
4. If holes are too small, whittle stems with a craft knife. Glue in place if desired.
5. Position candle(s); votives should be in glass surrounds, but larger candles can sit directly on base. Use long-necked gas igniters to light.

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