Who says the recessionista lifestyle has gone out of fashion?
I wanted to see what would happen if I took everyday items found at the grocery store and repurposed them as decorative elements in floral arrangements for late-summer parties. Not only would they be eco-chic, but they might save me hundreds of dollars that could be spent on another party component, like great food.
But would they be DIY-fabulous or tacky and cheap? That would be the challenge.
To get started, I collected a stash of tin cans and jars that would be good candidates for centerpiece vessels, and I bought six individual roses right out of the grocery-store florist's bucket, one batch of berries and one mixed floral bouquet. Here are the projects that ensued, and tips so you can try them yourself.
Some cans' labels need not be removed. If you are hosting a fiesta with Tex-Mex flair, look for colorful tin cans. Then, match the flowers. Here, I found La Morena's pickled jalapeño peppers in a festive can. I removed the lid with a can opener (use one that leaves a smooth edge rather than a sharp, prickly one) and rinsed out the tin, being careful to avoid getting the label wet or damaged. I used a few orange-toned roses to match the label, and filled around the roses with delicate orange-colored berries.
If the party's at night, weave a strand of white or colored lights around the bouquets. These are perfect for tables filled with chips and a variety of salsas. Of course, don't let the pickled peppers from the cans go to waste -- use them in a dish or salsa that you serve.
Pop the top of a Peace Tea or Arizona iced tea can, drink up the delicious tea, then use a can opener to take off the top of the can to make a vessel for flowers. The Peace Tea cans used as vases are great for college gatherings. They're light, colorful and, of course, inexpensive to make. Match the tins to the serving pieces you plan to use.
I found a coconut juice by Foco that came in a tall tin with a fun illustration, and it matched my serving pieces for chips and dips. Instantly, my bistro table was fresh and charming.
These large canned drinks make great portable vases for gatherings that require many flowers on a table, with the bonus that you don't have to worry about broken glass. Tall cans are easy to pack up and load quickly with flowers if you are taking your arrangements to the lake, a park or a friend's pool party.
If nothing else, this tip is just a simple reminder that small preserve jars can make very sweet and minimal bud vases, and they look really nice if you need a lot of small arrangements for many tables.
Many jars come with fruit designs in the glass -- a classic, simple look for a vessel of flowers. I like to bundle fresh-cut roses in these; about five will do. You can buy these jars in the canning area of the grocery store if you don't have an empty one at home. The smaller the jar, the fuller the flowers will look.
Milk bottle retro
Starbucks Frappuccino drinks on grocery-store shelves usually come in a boxed four-pack. If you buy two or three, you can easily cover a lot of small tables. The glass bottles look like antique milk jars when the labels are removed. Take off the lid, drink the contents, and fill the bottle with flowers for a simple, elegant way to brighten up tables. Just about any type of grocery-store flower looks good in these simple, retro-inspired arrangements.
Save the cylinders that house breadcrumbs. To transform one into a vase, I removed the top and hot-glued on a bit of burlap material. Then I placed a small jar inside the container to hold the water and brightly colored flowers and sunflowers. Tip: If you are using these outside, drop a rock or two into the container so it won't blow away.
Souped up vases
Soup cans need not be cast aside. I saved six cans and a smaller canned-milk tin. I removed the tops and whitewashed them using a white craft paint. (I brushed on one thin layer so that the tin color still shows through.)
This project requires a power drill and a bit. Drill a hole into each can and use bailing wire to string them together. Leave about 2 to 3 feet of excess bailing wire on each can so that you have extra wire to work with. There is no right or wrong way to do this. I staggered the wired cans so that when filled with flowers and/or votive candles, they wouldn't touch each other too much.
Wrap the bailing wires together until the stem of this hanging art is tight and easily tied over a table, on a tree limb or even lined up on a fence.
You can also wire cans individually and hang them on the pickets of a fence leading to an outdoor gathering.
I envision a collage of soup tins on either side of an entrance gate to a pool area, too.
If you don't want to mess with paint or wire, simply remove the lid on a soup can, wash the can, remove the label and use the can as a minimalist-chic stainless-steel vase.