My style of entertaining is very casual and easygoing (read more about my entertaining philosophy here!). I like my guests to feel comfortable and the atmosphere (dare I say ambiance?) is an important part of doing just that.
If we're hosting friends for dinner on a Saturday night, a formal florist-type bouquet isn't appropriate - it would say all of the wrong things about what I want the night to be.
My favorite method is to use several stems of the same type (or color) of flower.
As a caterer and event planner, I knew that I could rely on these types of arrangements to always look great. They are hard to mess up!
Unsure about what flower to use for your centerpiece? I always turn to what is in season. It is usually more inexpensive than out of season options, and it just makes sense with what is being served and what is going on outside.
Right now, it is hydrangea season - they are blooming in abundance. I've never seen hydrangeas so full of blooms as I've experienced in New England. Now I understand why Martha Stewart and The Barefoot Contessa always recommend using giant masses of hydrangeas... in New England you can pick 50 blooms without even making a dent in a mature bush.
Unfortunately, I only have 3 young plants in my yard - 2 blue (remember blue blooms from the Farmer's Market Inspired Dinner Party?) and 1 white cone-shaped hydrangea, from which I was able to sacrifice 5 really large blooms. If you don't have any growing in your yard, most grocery stores carry white hydrangeas all year long. You should be able to get 3-5 blooms for $10-15... and they'll last for a week or more.
I created 3 various examples of simple centerpieces that, instead of using vases, use items from around the house as containers. They would be beautiful for any casual, laid back, late Summer dinner party.
Hydrangeas need a lot of water. Cut the stems on an angle, then make a cut up the stem to aid the water in getting to the bloom.
put lilacs in my vintage pewter pitcher?
TIP : Use an odd number of blooms - 3, 5 or 7 flowers always look better than 2, 4 or 6.
For a little more of a vintage look, I paired two blue ball jars (from my Grandma Steffens' massive collection) of different sizes. The touch of blue adds a little bit of interest to the white flowers.
For this centerpiece idea, I used 3 rustic wine glasses (stemless) down the center of the table with one bloom each.
Note that all of the glasses are a little bit different from each other. The clean arrangement, and simple use of one bloom each allows you to use a little bit of liberty with the glasses - everything doesn't need to be - in fact it shouldn't be so matchy-matchy.