Last-minute Thanksgiving Flowers on the Cheap!

The clock is ticking, but it's not too late to put together some pretty, fresh and cheap flowers for your Thanksgiving table without breaking the bank! I just placed an order to have some flowers sent to someone as a Thanksgiving surprise, which left my "flower budget" very, very low. The good news is that the Mister texted me a photo of some flowers at Aldi for $3.99 a bouquet. I chose two bunches--one of roses and one of mums. Aldi (the "brother" grocery store to Trader Joe's) is new in our neck of the woods, and I'm pretty impressed with the savings to be had on staples. The flower bouquets, however, were small and not really anything special. The good news is that I like a challenge, especially when it means taking something kind of ordinary and making it a little bit great.

So I started with these two birch bark containers that I had on hand. These simple guidelines will work for any small container with a wide opening.

birch bark containers

I soaked some Oasis foam for about a half hour and then placed the blocks in the containers.

easy flowers

I'm no master flower arranger (I don't even belong to a garden club!), but I really love messing around with flowers. Thankfully, I've had the opportunity to watch some stellar art museum volunteers prepare for museum openings and events using a combination of grocery store flowers, yard flowers, and a few florist stems. As with any good design, balance is important. So I started with one rose on either side of my container.

grocery store flowers

Then I added one large mum to the center of each container. Most grocery store bouquets have three or four striking blooms and the rest are smaller flowers. Keeping that in mind, I place the larger or different colored blossoms first. My bouquet had two big orange mums, one small green hydrangea bloom, two dark magenta carnations, and three or four small yellow and rust-colored mums. And I had six peach roses.

flowers on a budget

So, once the bigger mums were in place, I added the other flowers, working in threes as much as possible. The photo above shows how the arrangements looked at this point. Not that great, right? The colors worked okay, but the textures and heights are too similar. This is when it starts getting fun for me. I headed out to our side yard to look around and see what might work. The pros call this foraging.

inexpensive flowers for Thanksgiving

I decided the beautifully colored leaves of our oakleaf hydrangeas would add some of the drama I needed. The leaf stems are kind of wimpy, so I used an old pencil to poke a hole in the Oasis and then inserted the leaves. If you're like me, you might be thinking, those leaves are gigantic--totally out of scale. Yes and no. It's the unexpected size of the leaf that makes the whole arrangement more interesting and a little less like something you'd expect to see on tables at the retirement center.

easy Thanksgiving flowers

Even with the giant leaves, the overall texture was still too soft, and the arrangement needed a little height. So, I added a few bare sticks and a couple of small stems of holly. The dark green and the shiny surface make a nice counterpoint to the softness of the other petals. The berries aren't quite red yet, and the slightly orange-ish tint made the holly a terrific choice today. Magnolia stems or even boxwood would have the same effect of adding some structure and contrast.

fall table

So, here the arrangements are on the table. I'm going for a more casual look this year, and will add placemats and heavy pottery dishes, so Big and Middle can load their plates as full as they'd like!

cheap fall flowers

Almost finished, but I still felt like the arrangements needed a tiny tweak. So, I returned to the yard and snipped a few wispy Hemlock branchlets to add yet another texture.

I also like that the evergreen holly and hemlock foretell of the Christmas season ahead.

So, there you have it. It took me about an hour from start to finish, including photography, and a cash outlay of only $8--definitely the best (not-even) $20 I spent this month!

Whether you're headed over the river and through the woods or just into the next room, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with people you love.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Gather Together

The Mister has reminded me several times over the past week that it's not a good idea to marinate myself in the CNN coverage of world events. He's right, of course. The stress of reporting (and watching) in what is practically real time results in inaccuracies, repetition, and an onslaught of "authorities," some of whom have well-educated and well-researched opinions and some of whom don't. It's important to stay informed, and it's critical to remember that there's still a lot of goodness and beauty in the world, as well.  Personally, I'm looking forward to a quiet Thanksgiving and enjoying the last bits of fall around the T&C House.

fall decor

The Mister and I visited the local farmer's market the middle of September for gourds and pumpkins to decorate the front of the house. We added a couple of Jack O'Lanterns a week or so before Halloween, and now it's back to the simple, and mostly green, color scheme. Considering all the rain we've had, I'm surprised they haven't rotted away already.

gourds and pumpkins

I found the concrete (cement?) pumpkin planters at TJ Maxx a couple of years ago. I'm never really sure what to do with the lids.

fall decor

This imari bowl sits in the living room with a mixture of real gourds, cotton bolls, fake berries, real berries, and fake gourds.

Also, in the living room, I filled a wooden tray with a mixture of real and faux to bring some fall into this room. I didn't edit these photos, so I apologize for some of the glare and graininess.

fall decor

On the desk, I added these little fake pumpkins with some fruit from my parents' dogwood tree. When I first gathered those fruits they were red and slightly squishy. Eventually they dried out to these spiky little balls.

Bitter Orange potpourri

In the family room, I added a small pumpkin to my ever-present bowl of Agraria Bitter Orange potpourri alongside a framed vintage Thanksgiving postcard.

metallic pumpkins

In the dining room, silver, gold and white pumpkins mix it up with a tole tray and some dried oak leaves on the sideboard.

fall decor

Random pods, seeds, acorns and leaves make a good base for antlers and an old wooden canoe.

Thanksgiving table

This was our table last year, and I loved how simple it was as far as "flowers." As you can see, there aren't any. I raided the produce basket in the kitchen for clementines and pomegranates, cut some magnolia, picked up a few pinecones and brought in a pumpkin from the front porch. We did use a nice tablecloth, napkins, and china. I'm thinking this year, I may do something more casual.

Our menu is fairly simple, too.

dry rubbed turkey roasted on the grill
cornbread dressing with sausage and pecans
sweet potato souffle
broccoli casserole
mixed greens topped with coarsely chopped roasted Brussel sprouts & butternut squash
macaroni and cheese
cranberry sauce
Sister Schubert yeast rolls 

The Mister's apple pie
pumpkin pie with whipped cream

preschool pilgrim

We have a lot to be thankful for, and we're looking forward to the homecoming of the little pilgrim who made this--truly a self portrait of Middle at age three.

What are your Thanksgiving plans? 

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