This centerpiece can take you from Christmas to Carnival

During the busy holiday season, it’s sometimes easy to forget one decorating area until the last minute: a table centerpiece.

In the time it takes to arrange a floral bouquet, you can have a centerpiece that can take you through Christmas into New Year’s Eve — even to Fat Tuesday and the day after. All it takes is some boxwood, a few materials and your imagination.

James DelPrince, horticulture specialist and assistant professor at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, started with fresh flower foam. DelPrince notes that water-absorbing foam should be used; Oasis is a brand name. Make sure the foam is green and hasn’t turned brown. If it’s brown, its water-absorbing capacity has been compromised.

Fresh boxwood was created to make the “tree leaves.”

“If boxwood isn’t readily available for you, there’s an alternative that grows well here that’s also good: Japanese pittosporum, or mock orange. It also fills in the form well,” he said.

Electric or battery-operated lights and miniature ornaments in your colors of choice can be used for a Christmas theme.

Come the end of the year, your centerpiece can get a ritzy remake with floral spray paint (available in the floral department of larger craft stores) and metallic mini ornaments for New Year’s Eve. Consider fresh flowers, too.

“White mums create a little softer, more romantic feeling,” he said. “You can also try red mini carnations.”

With an especially early Mardi Gras in 2018 (Fat Tuesday is Feb. 13), your centerpiece can take on purple, green and gold to celebrate. And hey, why not replace carnival colors with red and white for Valentine’s Day? Boxwood is pretty hardy, and even when leaves eventually turn brown, the spray paint can cover up the color change.

Prefer not to do a tree design? You can adapt these ideas to any shape you choose.

Here are your basic materials.

1 to 2 pounds fresh-cut boxwood or mock orange

Fresh flower foam

Waterproof tape

Wired wood picks

Floral shears


Floral container

Holiday trimmings, such as tiny pinecones, ribbon, garland, electric or battery-operated lights, ornaments

For DelPrince’s step-by-step instructions, go to to download “Boxwood Topiary Design,” which DelPrince wrote for Mississippi State University Extension this year.

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1