Oscar Mora, floral designer

Photo by Kathleen E. Bednarek

Floral designer Oscar Mora offers tips on creating festive centerpieces for any occasion.

Use what you have: Raid your cabinets, but keep in mind that solid-color opaque objects tend to mix better than heavily patterned ones. When using clear containers, keep the look tidy by maintaining equal water levels or lining inside walls with thick tropical leaves, which last well underwater.

Plan ahead: Think about the purpose of the event and who the attendees will be. Will it be formal? Consider dark shades. Cheery? Try bright hues. If celebrating a particular person, try working in his or her favorite color.

Combine with care: A common mistake is to create chaos by using too many colors and textures. To ensure harmony, limit your range to three textures and four colors. Also, pick seasonal plants (they’ll last longer) that don’t have a strong smell—you don't want to overpower the food that's being served.
Vegetable centerpiece by Oscar Mora

Photo by Gemma Commas, styling by Jen Everett

Veggie Delight
Oscar stacks three cake stands to create this voluptuous still life. He mixes fruits and flowers, including orchids, calla lilies, mushrooms, eggplant, and unripe pomegranates. The casual abundance of the arrangement softens the formal profile of the tiered plates.
Pyramid centerpiece by Oscar Mora

Photo by Gemma Commas, styling by Jen Everett

Pyramid Scheme
A tower of martini glasses is held together with dots of poster tack (available at craft stores). “Since the water in each glass is shallow,” says Oscar, “I choose flowers that require only a little to stay fresh.” In this arrangement, roses, mini peppers, coxcombs, and calla lilies offer a multitone take on the traditional Christmas red.
Meredith Waga Perez

Photo courtesy of Belle Fleur

Floral designer Meredith Waga Perez, co-owner of Belle Fleur in New York City, shares her tips on creating a festive fireplace.

Do a dry run: Sketch out your vision on paper, then gather the elements and lay them out on a counter or your kitchen table. Tweak the design, streamlining or amplifying as needed, then assemble your pieces on the mantel.

Fill the void: If you don't plan on lighting a fire, extend your motif to the fireplace, since anyone sitting down will see the hearth first.
Winter white mantel

Photo by Gemma Commas, styling by Jen Everett

Silver Solution
Meredith uses winter white hydrangea and amaryllis to tie together an ecumenical mix: a Tiffany & Co. sterling-silver menorah and mercury-glass Christmas ornaments. Circa-1860 Italian gilded mirror is from Sentimento Antiques.
Evergreen-inspired mantel

Photo by Gemma Commas, styling by Jen Everett

Evergreen Style
Meredith layered cedar, eucalyptus, and hanging amaranthus for a traditional old-world look on the mantel. "My goal was to create a landscape of textures and hues of green," she says.
Candy cane-inspired fireplace

Photo by Gemma Commas, styling by Jen Everett

Candy-Cane Crisp
This 1950s-inspired setting uses hundreds of the most durable flower on the market: the carnation, which easily can last a week. The flowers are inserted into florist foam that's been taped to an existing frame; white pillar candles and playful reindeer figurines complete the high-contrast display.
Rustic romance on the mantel

Photo by Gemma Commas, styling by Jen Everett

Rustic Romance
Cast-iron urns can barely contain the abundant Leonidas roses and fiddlehead ferns. Garlands made with Hypericum berries and bay leaves add a holiday feel.