How-To: Make a Tropical Thanksgiving Centerpiece


CRAFT: Thanksgiving

Being in Hawaii for the Thanksgiving holiday has given me countless things to be thankful for. The Hawaiian flavors, tropical colors, and generous attitude are truly one of a kind. Even if you are not on the islands, you can reinvent your mainland holiday with a twist! Gather flowers at the florist, and then visit an Asian food market for unusual fruits. You can build this centerpiece in less time than it takes to make the mashed poi! Aloha!
Many thanks to the Hotel Renew, and it’s kind and helpful staff. Renew has been my home away from home for this trip, and it’s modern design and floral arrangements have been extremely inspiring. Mahalo (thank you) for the use of the lobby for this tutorial!


Tropical flowers ginger, anthuriums, orchids, and proteus
Greenery philodendron, canna, and banana leaves
Fruits bananas, sugar apples, and rambutans
Low and wide container
Floral foam
Notes on Flowers: I found my flowers at an amazing shop in Chinatown in Honolulu called Flower Field (808-387-9192). These flowers can also be found at any mainland florist, but I would recommend looking at Trader Joe’s! TJ’s carries all the flowers used in this project.
Notes on Foam: As you can see in the photos, I used floral foam from a previous arrangement. This is very bad form, for a couple reasons. One, the foam could be contaminated with bacteria that could cause wilt. Two, the structure of the foam and its holding power is greatly compromised. While in this case the recycled foam doesn’t ruin the result, it still is always best to try to use a fresh block of floral foam.
Step 1: Cut the floral foam to fit in the container. I sliced the foam into 1″ slabs, and placed them side by side in the tray.
Step 2: Add water to the tray.
Step 3: Place the biggest leaves in such a way that they drape off the front of the centerpiece.
Step 4: Start to add ginger flowers. The tallest flower in my arrangement is about 8″, while the shortest flower is about 4″. I placed the shortest ones along the sides, and the tallest ones in the center. Leave 2 or 3 ginger flowers for the end, to fill in any holes.
Step 5: Add anthuriums next. Place a few in the center, leaving a few for filling in towards the end.
Step 6: Place the orchids at the edges of the arrangement. Cantilever them off the tray. For my arrangement, I made sure that none of the orchids were placed higher than the ginger flowers.
Step 7: Add a leaf, to give some height to the arrangement. The point is to build a low piece that won’t be in people’s faces over dinner, but adding 1 or 2 taller leaves lends interest.
Step 8: Place the proteus in the center of the arrangement. This is the anchor. After you have placed the proteus, fill in with the leftover anthuriums and ginger blossoms.
Step 9: Add fruit! This is the really fun part, that brings in a cornucopia vibe. Instead of the traditional Thanksgiving mini pumpkins, squash, and gourds, use bananas, Thai sugar apples, and rambutans, or lychees.

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