Pebble centerpiece

Pebbles team with candles, fruit, and flowers to create new visual excitement on the dining table
Ann Bertelsen

In a novel twist on the Western tradition of blending indoor and outdoor, these festive holiday arrangements bring the outside in, then out again. Pebbles ― either stone or frosted glass ― seemingly spill out of their containers onto the dining table to mingle artistically with place settings. The glass cylinders contain candles and flowers anchored in the pebbles; more flowers, plus fruit and foliage, are set in the pebbles mounded outside the cylinders. The result is a natural, free-flowing arrangement for your Thanksgiving table.

TIME: 30 minutes

COST: About $20 for each arrangement, not including flowers

MATERIALS

*Several handfuls of glass pebbles (sometimes called marbles; 3/4-pound packets sell for about $5 at florists' supply stores) or stone pebbles from a building and landscape supplier

*Cylindrical glass vases of different sizes (from a florist, florists' supply, or home store)

*Pillar candle(s)

*Cut flowers (full blooms) and/or fruit

*Florist's vials (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. To replicate the arrangement shown above, place a handful of pebbles or marbles in the taller vase and wedge a pillar candle inside. Put another handful of pebbles in the smaller vase; then place flowers in water-filled florist's vials and settle them into the pebbles, or place flowers directly into the vase and add just enough water to cover the bottoms of the stems. As a variation, you can place fruit atop pebbles in the smaller vase. Keep the flowers or fruit relatively low in the vase, so the eye focuses on the base of the arrangement.

2. Position pebbles around the vases. Stack the pebbles as high as the clusters inside the vases, then let them cascade gently to the table. The arrangement of the exterior pebbles should echo the shape of your dining table ― if the table is rectangular, the arrangement should be long and linear; if the table is round, the arrangement should be circular. Let some pebbles break out of the circle or rectangle to soften the lines of the arrangement.

3. Around the centerpiece, position a few flowers (in florist's vials) or pieces of fruit whose colors complement those used in the vases; you can pick up these shades in linens and china as well. Vary fruits, flowers, and foliage to suit your taste.