After decades of attending and holding banquets, centerpieces are always notable for their expense, distraction, interest or absence.
Focused on centerpieces at banquets since it was an office discussion today. Dilemma of what can hold up the Beatles CDs that will be our convention banquet centerpieces. Routinely try to do unique things around a theme ... for a low expense ... all $4-$12/table. (Would rather spend money on instructors or the food.) Inexpensive things we've found: a) going off season to a souvenir shop in that area and buying discount items related to the location (toy lobsters, carved/painted sea figures, lanterns) ; b) medium-sized potted plants such as cactus with something painted on pots; c) glass jars/vases from a dollar store filled with Oreo cookies and black/white ribbon tied around the top (black/white event); d) unique boxes of different designs/shapes; e) carved animal figures; f) small state or U.S. flag on holder; g) dollar store, party or craft store items; h) pottery on clearance - various sizes and types. Battery-operated flowers that danced every time someone made noise was not the best idea (loud) but attendees really enjoyed them. Ask the facility if they have anything no cost to use - sometimes other groups leave things behind. (We don't bring anything back.) Whatever you select needs to be large enough to look like a centerpiece.
Things to consider about flowers, candles, or doing nothing:
1. How much flowers cost
2. With increases in allergies, that "allergic-free flowers" becoming necessary
3. Floral display overkill -- Shocking how many events have extravagant displays where it's impossible to see others at the table
4. Candles equal fire. Learned not to mix banquet attendees, candles and wine
5. If you want flowers or candles anyway, look at wedding sites for inexpensive ideas
6. Anything is better than nothing. A fifty-cents plastic beach pail or putting lemons in a glass container is better than only having salt and pepper in the middle of the table