I have a minor obsession with centerpieces. Over the years, I have tried one thing after another, never satisfied with my efforts. I guess it is important to me because centerpieces are usually the focal point of any dining room, so I want ours to make a statement. Unfortunately, sometimes that statement was, “I am too tall to have a conversation over” or “I am really easy to knock over”. More than once it turned out to be, “I looked good on Pinterest, but I don’t work in real life”. Even when a centerpiece was attractive, the look was always marred by the practical items that needed to stay on the table for meals. Finally, it occurred to me–why not make those functional items into one centerpiece? Doing so had the added benefit of allowing us to stop moving items to and from the table every day.
There are many possibilities for a container in which to place your centerpiece items. The one that I used is technically a condiment server. When I was looking for just the right item, I also looked at trough planters, caddies, old wooden toolboxes, and even copper fish kettles. I especially wish I had seen this gorgeous wine trough to use as a centerpiece. Etsy has some great options, but I also looked on Amazon and Ebay.
The item that I eventually bought is 18″ long, which allows space for me to place food on either end when we eat. If you have a long table, you might go as long as 24″ or possibly longer. As you can see, mine is divided into sections, but I am not sure that I would choose a sectioned centerpiece again unless the sections were at least 7-8 inches wide. This would have allowed the trivets to fit in without angling them. Also pay attention to the height of the items that you want to put in there. These sections are 4″ deep and my salt and pepper shakers are just barely tall enough to easily access. If you use a shallower container, you might use jelly jars or other containers to hold items upright.
The items to put in your centerpiece depend entirely on what you typically need at the table. For us, that meant napkins, trivets, salt & pepper shakers, silverware, and the pink-striped tea towels that we use as place mats. You could also consider other condiments than do not require refrigeration. Another possibility would be placing all of your serving spoons in your centerpiece.
I hope that you are inspired to design your own useful centerpiece. Happy Decorating!