How to Make Easy Thanksgiving Centerpieces with Pumpkins and Fresh Flowers

Thanksgiving centerpieces with pumpkins provide the perfect focal point to set the mood for your delectable feast. This DIY guide will show you how to make a floral vase from pumpkin with several variations to choose from. We’ve also included centerpiece ideas using white pumpkins, and succulents. Mix and match candles and flowers such as sunflowers with Autumn leaves, cranberries, pine cones, and even seasonal vegetables. Check out our Inspirations section for more creative table decorations ideas – the steps are the same no matter what materials you use.

How to Make a Pumpkin Centerpiece with Flowers

A Step by Step DIY Tutorial

How to Make Easy Thanksgiving Centerpieces with Pumpkins and Fresh Flowers

This DIY Thanksgiving centerpiece is perfect for anyone from crafting beginners to crafting pros. Shown here (see below) are two versions using fresh flowers – the final outcome depends on which flowers and pumpkins you have selected. Use flowers and greenery with strong, straight, stems that will be able to pierce the florist foam without breaking.

A farmer’s market is a great place to search for pumpkins – usual or otherwise – they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, not just the orange ones we’re used to seeing at Halloween. Get fall flowers from a florist or if you are a gardener, start with your own yard and see what you already have that will work in your floral arrangement. Craft and dollar stores are ideal for those finishing touches such as ribbons and borders, candles, and twigs and pine cones.

The Final Creations

An easy Thanksgiving centerpiece with big pumpkin, fresh roses and mums
Thanksgiving centerpiece using pumpkin and sunflowers

Supplies and Tools You’ll Need

Making pumpkin centerpiece using yellow pumpkin, a bouquet of flowers and cranberries

Please note: shown (above and below) are three different ideas. The first two illustrations use similar materials and tools. Both centerpieces are designed to showcase a bold arrangement of autumn flowers. In the second picture, blue delphiniums are added. Using complementary colors (oranges, reds, and pinks that complement blue) in a bouquet is pleasing to the eye.

However, in the third photo, a whole different vibe is created by combining muted colors with bright accents like the sunflower and red peppers. Use pruning shears when stems and branches are more than a pair of scissors can handle.

Make a pumpkin centerpiece using fresh Roses, Mums and blue Delphiniums
Create Thanksgiving pumpkin centerpieces with Sunflowers and white Phlox

You will need:

  • Fresh pumpkin
  • Fresh flowers, berries, leaves, succulents
  • Floral foam
  • Clear plastic
  • Scissors
  • Pruning shears
  • Sharp knife
  • Small scoop or large spoon
  • Finishing touches – candles, ribbons/bows/borders, pine cones

Step 1. Cut the Top Off

Cut the Top Off
Cut closer to the top

Start with a healthy pumpkin. There should be no bruises, holes, or soft spots.

Cut the top off with a sharp kitchen knife. Depending on how high you want the container to be, make the cut closer or further from the top. Hang onto it – it can become an integral part of your arrangement. To be safe and sound, always cut away from you rather than toward, as demonstrated above.

Step 2. Scoop Out the Insides

Scoop Out the Insides
Ensure all the pulp has been removed

With a small scoop or a large spoon, scoop out the insides. Gently scrape the side to ensure all the pulp has been removed. When the pumpkin is one of an edible variety, save the flesh (make a pie) and seeds (roast for a healthy snack). If you plan on using the top, don’t forget to clean it out too.

Step 3. Line the Pumpkin

Line the pumpkin with plastic wrap

To protect the inside of the container from excess moisture, line it with plastic wrap, cellophane, or a plastic bag. You’ll want the extra protection for when you water the floral foam every day.

Step 4. Cut the Foam Block to Fit

Cut the floral foam block to fit the pumpkin

Florist foam typically comes in blocks. To get an idea of how much you’ll need, place the block over the opening. Mark it with a knife and cut the foam on a board or other flat surface. It will cut easily.

Step 5. Soak the Foam

Soak the floral foam with water

In a bowl or a sink, soak the floral foam for at least 30 minutes to allow it to become porous.

Step 6. Insert the Foam

Insert the foam into pumpkin

Place the foam inside the pumpkin. Press down until it fits snugly.

Step 7. Remove Excess Plastic

Remove Excess Plastic

You’ll want to trim the plastic liner so that the edges are smooth and out of sight.

Step 8. Trim Stems

Trim flower stems

There are several preferred methods for trimming stems for floral arrangements. As shown here, the cut is made with scissors at a slight angle. This increases the amount of water the flowers absorb and prolongs how long they last.

Step 9. Placing the Flowers

Insert the first flower into the floral foam

Before you begin to place the flowers mentally divide the foam into three “rings.”  Reserve the center for the stars of the show; place flowers of contrasting colors or textures in the area around the center; to fill out the display “drape” greenery or small filler flowers from the outer edge.

Start adding the flowers from largest to smallest.

Keep adding the flowers

Step 10. Add Another Flower Variety

Now add Mums and Cranberries

Step back from the pumpkin vase. Are all the layers of texture – the colors, shapes, and materials – working beautifully together in the way that you want? Look for balance; there should be no gaps, but the arrangement shouldn’t appear overcrowded.  Make any additions and subtractions you feel is necessary.

Just look at it! Combining mums and roses makes a beautiful festive centerpiece. But not without added cranberries.

Step 11. Those Little Extras

For a final touch, add Delphiniums

Add extra filler flowers, greenery, or a sprig of berries. Last chance to make your centerpiece really shine! Wrap a ribbon around your pumpkin vase. Place it on a runner with short pillar candles on either side.

You’re done!

Create your own DIY designs by applying the same steps to these different ideas below.

More Ideas and Inspirations for Thanksgiving Centerpieces Using Pumpkins

Thanksgiving Centerpieces Using Pumpkins Ideas - two pumpkin vases

Two pumpkin vases are used to create attention-grabbing contrast. The large orange pumpkin is overflowing with bountiful blooms including stunning purplish pink and orange flowers The small white fruit has a more rustic appeal with its green-striped skin and containing one type of flower with filler flowers and greenery. Enhance the autumn theme with acorns and fall leaves.

Candle in pumpkin centerpiece idea

The pumpkin makes a great vase because of its deep ribbing and mottled markings. Remove the stem by carving out just enough space to insert a pillar candle. Include it in the display above to make it into a three-part centerpiece.

Make Thanksgiving centerpiece using white pumpkin, succulents and twigs

The fairytale pumpkin starts out its life as a dark green but as it ages, it becomes a lovely buff orange. This variety makes an excellent centerpiece because it sits low, allowing people to see one another across the table. While the twigs give the illusion of height, they are arranged in such a way they don’t block the view. Perfect for late fall, succulents are combined with wispy plants and grasses.

Pumpkin centerpiece with succulents ideas

This little gem begins with a more compact variety of fruit (yes, the pumpkin is a fruit), but still with gently curved ribbing. Taller succulents add height while  “star” shaped plants keep things interesting. The end result of the almost monochromatic appearance of the bouquet is a calming composition.

Amazing painted pumpkin centerpiece idea - combining white flowers with succulents

For a richer visual experience paint the pumpkin vase purple. The unexpected design pairings of white flowers with succulents will make your holiday table unique. Baby’s breath and other long-stemmed plants such as seeded eucalyptus, fiddlehead ferns, and heather make great filler flowers and greenery. This is a great display for outside, but also a good choice indoors on a large sideboard or buffet.

Awesome Thanksgiving pumpkin centerpiece with vegetables and flowers

Enhance your Thanksgiving theme with a bounty of fruits and vegetables. This larger-sized pumpkin is the perfect height for a porch step or an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner. Its bumpy round shape echoes the roundness of the oranges, apple, and lemon, but offsets the elongated profiles of the peppers and pears. Adding red flowers and leaves brings an element of surprise to the display.

Thanksgiving centerpiece with pumpkin and pine cones idea

An orange pumpkin with deep ribs is ideal for this Autumn motif display. Using lots of deep greens (leaves) and mellow browns (pine cones, nuts) helps the red currents shine. The pronounced ribbing makes it relatively easy to shape its top into a flower – the finishing touch that makes it so memorable. This beauty will look good indoors or out.

Pumpkin centerpiece with a candle in the center

Reminiscent of a traditional Thanksgiving cornucopia, a deep ribbed pumpkin is the base for this festive grouping of foraged seasonal materials. The centerpiece has a central piece – the “crown” is actually a candle. Be specific in the layering around it. Arrange berries from the opening; add vines, evergreen clippings, assorted nuts and acorns, and fruit such as apples and pomegranates.

Light up a candle on your pumpkin centerpiece - what a great idea for a table decoration

Anchored visually by coiled vines, the pillar candle is positioned at the perfect height, just at the base of the protective crown. The flickering flame of the candle will still be seen.

Thanksgiving pumpkin centerpiece made with seasonal fresh flowers

Select flowers with multiple blooms on one stem in shades of yellow, orange and red. Dark green leaves and baby’s breath balance the riotous colors. Placing the top of the pumpkin creates the illusion of wild flowers escaping. For an even more dramatic effect add pomegranates and large fall berries.

Thanksgiving centerpiece made with red-orange pumpkin

A feast for the eyes, this arrangement uses roses, and feathery white-headed and deep pink blooms, punctuated by the distinctive Oxford blue. Oak leaves and grasses fill out the bouquet. The focus, however, is on the beautifully textured rind of the red-orange pumpkin.

A pumpkin centerpiece with fall leaves is placed on a pedestal cake plate

Autumn is definitely the inspiration for this pumpkin vase. The rustic centerpiece features colored berries combined with white flowers and fall leaves. Elevate the display by placing it on a pedestal cake plate – now there’s more room for those finishing touches such as more leaves, more berries, succulents, and pine cones.

What a cool idea - a centerpiece uses two different sized pumpkin vases

The handmade (by you) centerpiece uses two different sized pumpkins, one as a vase and the other as a decoration. Flora in shades of red tones and white flowers used in the bouquet are repeated in the decorative pumpkin as a garland. Place on canvas or burlap mats with a sprinkling of greenery and dried flowers.

Pink flowers, purple and green leaves give the pumpkin table decoration a festive look

This display is all about texture. Use a large pumpkin with pronounced ribbing. Purple and pink flowers are interspersed with slender buds, yellow wild flowers, and a bow or two. Purple and green leaves give the floral arrangement an understated sophistication while the painted grins of the munchkin pumpkins add a touch of mischievous fun.

A classic pumpkin vase idea

For a fresh looking flower arrangement, start with a pumpkin vase (don’t throw out the top). Place a combination of fall yellow flowers such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, and zinnias with their orange counterparts. Then put the lid on it!

About Heather Brown 8 Articles
Heather Brown is a freelance writer from Vancouver, British Columbia. Knowing only the basics about furniture and design, she wrote copy and edited web pages for an online furniture company. She started small with product descriptions and buying guides for beds, dressers, cribs, and office desks. Eventually, she became head copywriter/editor, managing six corporate blogs ranging from nursery ideas to bedroom furniture to home décor to garden and patio design. In no particular order, she is passionate about interior design, reading, movies, and unique housewares.