With fall well underway and Thanksgiving already on the horizon, cozy dinner parties seem top of mind lately. To get into the spirit, we tapped Meredith Waga Perez, florist to celebrities like Beyoncé, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Dakota Fanning, and co-owner of New York's Belle Fleur for advice on easy autumnal-themed tablescapes that are sure to impress. "If you're not a skilled designer, it's best to keep things really simple," she says. Here, a trio of seasonally-inspired ideas that add infinite oomph to your table—without requiring a huge amount of time or money to pull off.
Make a seasonal statement with by including fall's bounty of lady pears or crab apples into your decorations. With a sharp knife, make a small slit near the top of each piece of fruit to insert your place card. Perez also applies the same trick with miniature albino pumpkins, which she says "are a little more stylish and unexpected than traditional orange—plus, in white, they blend in seamlessly with any style decor."
When in doubt, you can't go wrong with a mass of one variety of flower in one color (or in the same color family, as shown above). Perez loves a grouping of bud vases (the more the merrier) each adorned with a single oversize flower, scattered along the table. At this time of year, try dahlias, amaryllis, or cabbage. You don't need to spend a fortune on vases, either. Perez likes high-gloss copper numbers from CB2 (starting at $10; cb2.com), and also recommends checking out Ikea and JamaliGarden.com for reasonably priced vases you can buy in bulk. If you refresh the water and trim stems even just a 1/4-inch daily, these arrangements can last up to nine days.
Try Something Unexpected
No time to shop for vases? Skip 'em altogether. Load up on a wide, flat flower like sunflowers (which are very widely available and inexpensive). Choose ones that are already in full bloom, cut them off just at the base of each flower and lay them straight on your table, between platters. "When they're big enough, I've even used the flower heads as pedestals for salt and pepper," Perez says. "They add so much warmth to the table." Succulents, which are similarly proportioned and hold water for days, are also great used this way.