Home Style: Two crisp, clean ideas for winter centerpieces

Mary Carol Garrity

When I'm not using my dining table for entertaining, I like to keep it decorated with a centerpiece that is eye-catching but understated, something that harmonizes with the season. For January and February, those quiet months nestled between the opulence of holiday decorating and the vibrancy of spring decor, I prefer a centerpiece that is clean and crisp but intriguing.

Here are two great winter-centerpiece looks to inspire you.

A treasure trove of textures

Start with a medium-sized wooden dough bowl. Wooden dough bowls are one of my top decorating tools because they can be used over and again in new and different ways in year-round decorating. I keep one on top of the bookcase in my study to hold seasonal greens. I also use them when I entertain to hold iced drinks. They are rugged and chunky and look marvelous paired with any accents in any style of home.

Next, we filled the back half of the dough bowl with a tumble of wicker accents to give us touchable texture in a monochromatic color palette. Be sure to create a visual high point in your display. We positioned a bottle in the center that is almost standing straight up.

I'm captivated by bottles encased in natural reeds because the organic lines and patterns are so rich. It's easy to tuck a bottle or two into an existing display, maybe on a mantel or in a bookcase.

In the front half of the bowl, we created a nest of sorts out of creamy old books and manuscripts, pages invitingly open, creating soft, loose rolls. Then we filled in the remaining open space with a sprinkling of wire-covered candleholders.

I really like to use hanging candleholders in my decor because they create a magical effect yet are easy to work with. In the warmer months, you'll find them dangling from trees and bushes in my garden. In the fall and winter, I work them into seasonal displays to add sparkle and shine.

Winter lights

During the winter months, with their long, dark nights, there's nothing like filling a table with sparkling candles.

All good centerpieces incorporate a variety of heights. To achieve dramatic height, you need risers. I'm head-over-heels in love with carved wooden bases right now because they deliver a soft, more organic statement.

Next, add candleholders, mixing in a variety of sizes and shapes, placing some on top of the risers, the rest around the sides of the display.

We popped in votive candles in small clear glass votive holders to prevent them from dripping onto the tabletop.

You could stop here for a streamlined statement, but we wanted to create a story with more interest, so we surrounded the base of our display with a handful of the smallest-sized candleholders.

To finish, we filled them with found treasures, white river rocks and bare twigs from the woods. Anything natural would look perfect in these little glass showcases, like seashells or acorns or stones you pick up on a winter hike.

The column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at She can be reached at