An eye-catching centerpiece floats your idea with a little water and a dash of imagination. Create an original table decoration for your event with cut flowers, glass containers, fresh-picked fruit, cool-glow waterproof lights, an old bucket or two -- and maybe a family pet. Use dripless candles specially designed for floating; for a large bowl or container, try a 2-inch candle with several wicks.
Sparkle and Shine
Crystal and floating candles are a classic -- and classy -- look for a formal centerpiece. Try something a bit more elaborate than just filling up a clear glass cylinder or cut-glass bowl with water and plunking a floating candle in it. Set a tiny, self-contained LED lamp at the bottom of a glass cylinder, clicked to "on." Heap clear glass marbles over the LED lamp -- fill the cylinder about one-third to halfway. Then add water, almost to the top of the container, before setting a floating candle on the water's surface. Light the candle immediately before your guests enter the room. The LED light gleams up through the marbles, illuminating them so the entire cylinder glows from within.
For a big buffet table under a shady tree or a garden fete with small tables dotted among the flowerbeds, add your own garden in a homegrown, recycled container. Stick to big, flat blooms or substantial flower heads for the large table. Fill a short galvanized bucket or tub with bright Gerbera daisies, vivid marigolds or a few clumps of hydrangeas. Set the bucket in the middle of the table, ringed with more flowers, on a checked blue-and-white cloth. Fill clean mason jars with water and float a single blossom in each one for the center of a small table. Use roses, hellebores, ranunculus or miniature sunflowers. It won't matter if the blossom sinks as the party revs up -- it can still be seen easily in the clear jar.
Fill small cylinders one-third full with real cranberries, add water, and nestle a floating candle in the center of the floating berries for a cocktail table centerpiece. A ring of delicate greens around each glass container makes it a holiday decoration. Cranberry-and-silver ribbons and baby's breath work for a special celebration -- a bridal shower or a sweet 16 party. Mixed-height cylinders and crystal bowls with bobbing lemons are fresh and unexpected for a brunch buffet centerpiece. Keep it tropical with a runner of green banana leaves anchored with sliced halves of papayas and pineapples, whole limes, tangerines, and scattered anthuriums and ginger flowers.
Do this at home to jump-start the dinner conversation during a fun pizza night. Put your beta fish in his glass bowl on a trivet in the center of the family table. Neptune can swim around engagingly as the crowd assembles for the evening chow-down. It also works well for a small gathering, such as a first-birthday party with the grandparents and a few friends. Cover the party table with a cartoon-fish paper cloth and set out fish-design dishes and bright paper napkins, big bowls of goldfish crackers and a cake adorned with a clownfish theme. Your own personal finny friend gets star billing in a clear glass globe decorated with colored glass marbles at the bottom, displayed on an upturned flowerpot cleverly concealed under an orange cloth napkin. Enlist the family fish as your dreamy, floating centerpiece only if the guests can be trusted to enjoy the view from afar.