Tips For Making An Ornament Centerpiece

One of the things I decided to try this Christmas when I had lots
of unused silver ornaments was an ornament centerpiece on the
dining room table. I could find pictures of centerpieces using
ornaments but no real instructions. This post shares some tips
I learned through trial and error (lots of error!) in case someday
you would like to give one a try yourself. 

A couple of things to keep in mind...

#1 Ornaments roll around a lot on a flat surface
Sure I knew round ornaments would roll but even the odd shaped
ornaments were very hard to keep where I placed them. Even
when I thought I had them steady, any jiggle to the table would 
send them in all directions. 

#2 Ornaments do not like to support the weight of other
ornaments no matter how light they are. 
There is no stacking of ornaments unless they are forced to
hold up even smaller ornaments. The bottom ornaments just 
roll to the side if any others are placed on top of them. 

Even when I tried the centerpiece on a tablecloth instead
of a bare table, the same things happened. 

To combat these natural tendencies of ornaments I found myself
using two main forces...containment and forced togetherness.

Containment would be a bowl or a tray with an edge to not
give the ornaments a choice about rolling away and then they
have to support the ornaments that are placed on top of them.

Forced togetherness is using wire, ribbon or fishing line to tie
ornaments together by their hangers so they cannot get away 
from each other. When you tie enough of them together you 
can build up some dimension and height. 

Here is what I started with in my Christmas decoration of the 
dining room...
Not all of these ornaments were used on the centerpiece.

I used a round silver tray as the middle of the centerpiece. The lip
on the tray contained the ornaments and kept them from rolling
around. A bowl would be an even better containment device since
the sides are higher but I don't have a silver one. 

A good tip whether you use a tray or bowl is to put your least
favorite or most ordinary ornaments on the bottom of the pile
so that your best ornaments will be easily seen. Also you can
fill in blank spaces in the pile with smaller ornaments. A bowl 
or tray of ornaments is lovely as a centerpiece. If you are happy
with how it looks on your table...bam! you are done!

With either a tray or a bowl pick it up very gently if/when you 
have to move it to not disturb your careful stacking. There is a 
limit to the amount of ornaments you can safely put in a bowl
or on a tray, of course, before they decide to tumble. 

After a lot of frustration in making the ornaments on the sides 
of the tray stay where I wanted them, I tried wiring the 
ornaments together using their hangers and silver wire.

This did help to keep them together and not roll but they flop
away from each other as much as possible. 

I added more ornaments to the original three...

...that was better but still left a big space in the middle.
I kept wiring on more ornaments to the bunch.

I finally felt like I was making progress with the wiring and made
several more bunches similar to the first. This is an example
of the forced togetherness.

It's interesting that the cheapest ornaments were the easiest to
make stay in place because they only had small holes in their
hangers and could not flop away like the ornaments with a 
traditional wire hanger with room to roam.

I thought that once I got the ornament bunches made that it 
would be easy to place them in the pattern I wanted...but, no.

When I tried to place a third bunch of ornaments in the middle
 and slightly on top of the two side bunches, the side bunches
 just slid to the sides of the third bunch. I was wanting the 
design to taper so I experimented some more.

To force the two side bunches to not slide apart I also wired
them together.

With another piece of wire I added the third bunch in the
position that I wanted it between the other two.

Another good advantage of having the ornaments not on the tray wired together is that they did not budge if the table was wiggled
or bumped. Also when I needed to move the centerpiece for any reason it was in three main pieces and did not need rebuilding. 

I gave up on having all the ornaments wired together when
I realized that with the main side structures stable, I could 
add a few small ornaments to fill in blank spaces along the
sides and they were contained by the bigger ornaments. 
Arrows show where non-wired ornaments were placed. 

At night the centerpiece  looked sparkly and warm with
 small clear glass votive candles lit and tucked around it.

The centerpiece was not exactly what I had in mind when I 
started but it turned out to function well in that guests could
see over the centerpiece and it was not so big that it interfered  
with dinnerware like glasses and plates on the table. 

I hope these tips will help you not have the frustrations that
I did when you try an ornament centerpiece. 

To see how the centerpiece tied in to the other decorations
in the dining room, please click on the highlighted text below.

Even though this is not a complete tablescape I am sharing
this page over at this blog party
Tablescape Thursday @ Between Naps On The Porch


  1. I've always just piled a few ornaments in a bowl or a hurricane and called it a day. You've shown me a great way to experiment. Thanks!

  2. Very nice descriptions of the problems encountered. I've also found that very old ornaments don't care to be wired and may just "pop the hanger out" if not treated gently!

    1. Jeanne, you are so right about some of the ornaments having their hanger pop out of the ball if they are pulled too tightly on the " joining" wire. I didn't want to glue the ornaments together so that they could be actually used on a tree again in the future but I would not be opposed to gluing a hanger on an ornament if it was too unruly. Thanks for taking time to leave a useful tip!

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