Don't spend a lot of time or money to welcome guests to the table. This quick project is sure to dazzle.
5-Minute Arrangements
Credit: William Dickey / Styling: Alan Henderson

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sometimes the simplest ideas can make the most sense. Why not try a fresh table setting that combines your favorite fall flowers with boldly colored fruit? These easy arrangements won't add any stress to your Thanksgiving plans--or your budget.

Fruit of the Season
Start by picking a color scheme; then find the fruit and flowers to match. Choose fruit with a firm texture, such as apples, pears, or Oriental persimmons. Softer fruit such as citrus and plums won't hold their shape. Next, consider color combinations. Apples and pears come in a variety of hues, from deep green to light pink. Oriental persimmons offer a touch of fall orange. Most grocery stores have a wide selection of fruit. If you can't find what you want locally, you can mail-order. Related: Thanksgiving Door Wreaths and Centerpieces

Add the Right Flowers
Choosing the best flowers to complement your fruit can be as easy as cutting whatever is still blooming in your yard. Sunflowers, garden mums, black-eyed Susans, and roses are perfect. If your flowerbeds are long gone, a trip to the grocery store should yield all the blooms you'll need. Try gerbera daisies or florist mums for a great splash of color. Visit a florist shop for an even wider array.

Flowers with strong stems work best. Avoid blooms with flimsy stems, such as cosmos or bachelor's buttons, to ensure your arrangement lasts through the evening. Keep the fruit and flowers in the refrigerator if you assemble them more than a few hours before you entertain.Related: Simple Thanksgiving Crafts

Put It All Together
Using hand pruners, cut each stem close to the fruit. Next, make a hole in the top of the fruit using the fat end of a chopstick or a paring knife. Make the hole about 1 inch deep and as wide as the stem of a flower (about 1/8 inch).

Now cut the flower stems, leaving about 1 inch. Simply insert each stem into the fruit, making sure that it pushes into the pulp. This gives the flowers some liquid and sugar to draw on so the blooms will stay fresh. Get creative to make each setting unique, or repeat the same combinations for a more refined look.

The Final Touch
For a centerpiece, add a few candles and magnolia leaves to a cluster of your arrangements. Put the candles on a plate to prevent the wax from ruining your table, and make sure the greenery stays a safe distance from the flame.

This article is from the November 2004 issue of Southern Living.