Try these simple arrangements for a fresh look for the holidays.

Chrysanthemums are fall's flowers, bringing the season into your home with inexhaustible blooms. Easily dismissed as rigid and out-of-date, they are, in fact, the best cut-flower bargain around. Mums offer shades that equal the flaming foliage of maples and oaks or mirror the colors of an autumn sunset. Enjoy them, and use them liberally.

While chrysanthemums are perfectly suited to easy arrangements reflecting Thanksgivings bountiful hospitality, some of their other endearing qualities are ready availability and economical price. Purchase plentiful bouquets while you're grocery shopping--you'll get an abundance of flowers for a very small investment. Or visit your local flower shop for more novel selections.

A wreath on the door packed with brilliant blooms greets guests with a spirited welcome. 'Viking,' a brown-eyed daisy type, is placed in rows around the wreath as if it were a ribbon wound around the form. In between, similarly shaded mums fill in, with each flower touching the next.

Try this colorful flower ring in other ways, perhaps as a focal point on the mantel along with branches of fall foliage. Or place it in a large, shallow saucer as a centerpiece. Fill the middle with small pumpkins, gourds, and squash, or add a cluster of pillar candles in deep shades of burgundy, rust, and gold.

A Harvest Table Setting
Capture the spirit of your Thanksgiving dinner with an overflowing centerpiece. Our arrangement is contained in an old-fashioned chicken feeder filled with florist foam. You might also use a weathered wooden toolbox, or simply put blocks of the foam in saucers lengthwise down the table.

Again, it's easy to purchase your materials while grocery shopping. Choose large pompon football mums and a bunch or two with smaller blooms in complementary tones.

From the produce section, bring home heads of colorful kale and selections of persimmons, pomegranates, lady apples, and artichokes. To make arranging simple and avoid a structured look, purchase odd numbers of these items.

Beginning with the kale, secure leaves in the florist foam down the length of the container, alternating sides. Fill in between with the large chrysanthemums, and attach the fruit and vegetables with wooden florist picks or skewers. Cluster the smaller flowers, filling in any gaps.

Trickle a few blossoms and other elements onto the table surrounding the centerpiece. Monitor the florist foam, keeping it moist to preserve the flowers' freshness.

Rounding It Out
Smaller arrangements also have a place in this holiday's decor. Give chrysanthemums a new look in an unexpected way. Brilliant green, button-type 'Kermit' mum spheres mimic osage oranges and add an autumnal accent to a window ledge. Placed on a narrow breadboard with candles and red daisy mums, they create a feel of easy elegance. This arrangement also works well on a mantel or long table.

Fill an old sectioned wooden box with kumquats, cranberries, flowers, pears, and candles in complementary colors. This versatile arrangement could serve as a centerpiece on a small dining table, or it can be placed on a sideboard or tea caddy to complement other arrangements.

Chrysanthemums are the quintessential fall flower. Use them to add easy, fabulous color to your Thanksgiving celebration.

This article is from the November 2001 issue of Southern Living.