Flower arrangements exist in many forms. Some are made to be given as gifts or to be carried. Some arrangements are quite formal, while others can be as simple as a few tulips placed into a charming pitcher. Centerpieces are just as their name implies: Flower arrangements designed to sit in the center of a table. The table can be a gift table, an eating table or a decorative table such as a foyer or coffee table. While the details of the arrangement will vary depending on the specific use of the centerpiece, the basic steps needed to create the floral arrangement will remain the same.
Choose a container that will hold water. This can be a traditional vase, a decorative bowl or even an interesting box--such as a Chinese food takeout box--lined with a plastic bag.
Determine how your centerpiece will be used. If it is to highlight a wedding gift table, for example, it should be fairly tall, full and showy. If it is for a formal dinner party, it should be elegant but short enough for people to see each other across the table. Such arrangements should be below chin level, according to the Save on Crafts website.
Add water to the vase or container so that it is filled about two-thirds of the way full, if you do not have floral foam or if you are using a clear container. Use lukewarm water and add floral preservative--available from any florist--to extend the life of the flowers. Alternatively, soak a piece of floral foam in water until it is thoroughly saturated and insert it into the container. You may need to cut it to fit. Do not add water on top of the foam.
Crisscross layers of clear cellophane tape across the opening of the container, if you are not using floral foam to support your flowers. The tape will help keep the arrangement stable and will not be visible after the flowers are inserted.
Arrange the flowers in your hand until you find a design that you like. In general, tall, dramatic flowers should go in the center of the arrangement, while round, full flowers should go in around the taller ones. Fill in with greenery such as fern fronds or broad leaves.
Insert the flowers into the floral foam or into the spaces left by the crisscrossing of the tape. Snip the stems to the length you desire immediately before placing them into the water. Make sure the arrangement looks good when viewed from any angle.
Finish your arrangement by adding a ribbon around the container, or inserting something distinctive among the flowers, such as twisting willow branches, long and slender pieces of ornamental grass or even a patriotic American flag for a picnic table or Fourth of July centerpiece.