Add sparkle to your festive table with glass balls and cylinders brimming with innovative ideas

Ann Bertelsen,  – September 2, 2004

Sparkling table toppers

No time to decorate? Think again. Our Yuletide table settings are made from seasonal materials you probably already have ― or at least can easily acquire: clear glass balls and cylinder vases, plus greens, fruits, and berries available from your local market.

The gleaming centerpiece festooned with elegant white orchids and miniature crabapples makes clever use of clear glass balls filled with water. The balls rest on a foam ring cut to accommodate and support them.

Our pillar-style “candles” are made from cylinders filled with cranberries and marbles, garnished with sprigs of jade plant, and topped with a floating candle. Place the pillars on your dining table, sideboard, or coffee table.

This centerpiece doesn’t take long, and adds sparkle to the festive table; (below) making the festive ring with glass balls and seasonal greens. 


TIME: 30 minutes

COST: About $30


*Six large clear glass ball ornaments

*Three small clear glass ball ornaments

*One 12-inch plastic-backed floral foam ring

*Utility or craft knife

*Floral picks or toothpicks

*Two small bunches of galax leaves, ivy leaves, or seasonal greens for garnish

*Two dozen crabapples or red berries

*One large platter or charger

*One glass compote bowl

*One medium package clear glass marbles

*One dozen stems of white orchids


1. Remove metal caps from glass balls. Place ring foam side up on a flat surface and use knife to cut six equally spaced points into it. Center a large glass ball over one of the points. Holding the ball in place, cut into the foam ring on each side of the ball at its widest point. Remove the foam between the two cuts and gently wedge the ball into the space. Repeat to secure the remaining five balls in place. Use floral picks to fasten leaves and seasonal greens over the exposed foam. Embellish the ring with one or two crabapples.

2. Place the ring on the charger and position the charger on the table. Set the bowl in the center of the foam ring; place the three small glass balls inside the bowl, stabilizing them among glass marbles. Fill all the balls halfway with water. Place a long orchid stem in each small ball (in the bowl) and a small sprig in each large ball. Ease the three long orchid stems into a tepee shape to hold them together (see photo on page 130). Add more fruit and berries to the bowl and around the ring, if desired. 


TIME: About 15 minutes

COST: About $15

NOTE: Frozen cranberries work as well as fresh ones for this project.


*Two clear glass cylinders of different sizes

*One package (12 ounces) of fresh or frozen cranberries

*One medium package clear glass marbles

*Five sprigs of jade plant

*Clear gel or off-white solid floating candles


1. Fill bottom third of cylinders with berries. Cover berries completely with one or two layers of marbles.

2. Place jade cuttings on top of marbles and add water, leaving enough room at the top to drop in floating candles.

3. Add the floating candles and light according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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