thanksgiving centerpiece ideas: the monkey flower group

by Grace Bonney

We’re continuing the Thanksgiving flower guest series this afternoon with Jaime from ! Jaime created this beautiful tabletop display using all-natural materials like acorns, twigs and sweetgum seed pods. I love how simple this idea is, but how easily it could be dressed up or down. Just make a strand or two for a simple display or string 10 to 12 for something far more dramatic, inside which you can nestle additional flowers, feathers or fruit. Jaime’s detailed how-to steps are after the jump, so I hope you’ll enjoy her project! Thanks, !

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

Acorn Ornament Materials

  • acorn nuts and tops
  • narrow ribbon
  • household glue

Twig Tree Materials

  • branchy twig
  • wood base (log slice, driftwood, block, etc.)
  • household glue

Garland Materials

  • embroidery thread
  • sweetgum (liquidambar styraciflua) seedpods, or other non-perishable fruit, nut or seed


  • oven
  • oven-safe container
  • old towel or fabric you don’t mind destroying, folded several times to be at least 3″ thick (I used burlap)
  • power drill and bits (one teeny tiny — I used a 3/32″ — and one the diameter of the twig)
  • scissors
  • heavy-gauge florists’ wire or a large needle


1. To make a twig tree, drill a hole in your chosen wood base 2″ deep and the diameter of the twig. Fill the hole with a dollop of
household glue, then add the twig.

2. To make the acorn ornaments, twist the acorn nuts out of their tops and bake them in an oven-safe container for 2 hours at 200F. This should put an end to anything that might be living inside.

3. Meanwhile, select an acorn top and place it concave-side-up on the folded fabric. With caution, use the power drill to put a hole through the center of the acorn top (you may drill into the fabric a bit; that’s why it’s there). Repeat this process until you have many nicely drilled tops. Sort through your baked acorn nuts to find those that fit snugly inside the drilled tops. Carefully set these matching acorn nuts aside.

4. Next, cut about an 8″ length of ribbon and fold it into a loop. Tie a knot in the ribbon about 1″ below the loop, then thread the
loose ends through the hole in an acorn top.

5. Tie these ends together several times to form a loose knot inside the acorn top. Fill the acorn top with a dollop of household glue and snip off any ribbon extending past the edges of the acorn top. Then place the matching acorn nut inside. Repeat this process until you have as many ornaments as you like. When the glue is thoroughly dry, hang them on a twig tree.

6. To make a sweetgum seedpod garland, drill through the seedpods as you did the acorn tops. Cut a length of embroidery thread a bit longer than you’d like your final garland, then begin stringing seedpods (a folded length of heavy-gauge florists’ wire or a large needle is handy for this). Depending on the size of your seedpods, you’ll need about 10 per foot. Tie off the first and last seedpods. If desired, finish with a length of ribbon or bow.

7. Finally, place the acorn ornament-laden twig trees on your table and arrange the garland in a winding path around them.

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  • So, maybe this is obvious to everyone but me, but how do you actually put food on the table?
    I have LOVED reading about all of these centerpieces this week, but in my family we eat family style on Thanksgiving. The bounty of food ends up being the centerpiece or any centerpiece has to be removed from the table before eating.
    Please tell me how it works; I want lovely centerpieces AND food! :)

  • Amber –In my family, the table is set long before our guests arrive. The centerpiece and table settings are all on the table and styled until it’s time to eat. (Usually guests see the table all set up as they wander around the house with their cocktails and appetizers.) Then the centerpiece is removed to the sideboard or buffet and all the food goes on the table. Sometimes we also plate the meal and the centerpiece stays. Sometimes the main dish is plated and the sides are on the table in which case the centerpiece usually stays.

    In my tiny house this year, the table will be set up and placed in the corner of our living room until we are ready to eat. Then the coffee table will go in the kitchen, the table will be moved to the center of the living room, and the centerpiece removed to another small table. It’s a little tricky! I had to explain the logistics –which involve additional furniture relocations– to my husband three times! I’m sure I’ll explain it again before the dance begins tomorrow.

  • That is so adorable and doable. I love the idea of just scavenging your neighborhood and coming up with a great table setting.

    I set up a table for an event I was doing this last Saturday for Thanksgiving. I stumbled upon 20 ft long birch wood in my neighborhood and they ended up being the piece de resistance on the tables. Gorgeous. I put the images up on my blog you should check it out.


  • I wonder if American acorns are bigger and slightly different from European ones, as the tops of ours don’t come down nearly as far as the ones you’ve made!

    Such an attractive and simple decoration. Foodwise, I would plate up in tiny, simple portions, too!!!

  • I have a bowl of these pods from picking them at my daughter’s college in southern Indiana. Could anyone tell me what tree they’re from (the sweetgum tree?!) because I haven’t seen them where I live in Chicago. I’m crazy in love with them and guessing it’s a warmer climate thing! Thanks!

  • Wow!- love the recyling flavoring to this.Reminds me o f the twigs we used last year for our Christmas tree that we found by the side of the road, will do that again thisyear.

  • Hi all, thanks for all the kind words!

    L. Violet, the tree is Liquidambar styraciflua, or “liquidambars”. They’re native to warmer parts of the Eastern US, but are used extensively in milder climates (alas) across the country as a landscaping tree. They turn a beautiful red in the fall!

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