How I Turned Store-Bought Flowers into Pretty Arrangements for a Party

Gatherings from The Kitchn

I love flowers, tulips especially. So when I decided to throw a spring dinner party earlier this month, I knew that flowers would be a major part of my decorating plan. But here's the thing: I'm not a floral designer, nor did I have a huge budget to spend on a fancy professional arrangement. So here's how I put together a few pretty arrangements for my table with only a bunch of lilacs and two bouquets of tulips.

I didn't actually know what flowers I'd be using for my table until the morning of the party when I walked over to my local farmers' market. I wanted to see what was available. I knew that I'd probably be able to find some tulips, so that was in my mind, but I wasn't expecting to buy a bunch of lilac. But when I saw it at the market, I couldn't resist! I mean, how pretty are these? And the smell!

I left the market with a bouquet of pink and purple-ish tulips (I wanted some color variation, but all in the pinks family) and the lilacs, and picked up another bouquet of tulips at a corner bodega. Done and done!

The key to arranging store-bought flowers is, essentially, to just mess around with them. You don't want to leave them as they are when you buy them. That's how they can end up looking stiff. So when my friend Nelly and I set out to put together our arrangements, the first thing we did was separate the bouquets, and lay out the individual stems as best we could. (You can't really do this with lilac, so we cut off sections as needed.)

Then from there we just mixed and match till we thought an arrangement looked good! Seriously, that's all we did. Our general working rule was for each vase or jar was to have at least one tulip, one section of lilacs, and a bunch of leaves. We also cut the stems at varying heights to give dimension, but kept them all pretty low so that the blooms seemed to burst right out of the top of the vase.

Some arrangements were "messier" than others, but I actually preferred that! I liked feeling like they were sprouting and overflowing in different directions. That's more like nature anyway.

After we had all the arrangements we wanted, I filled the vases — which were a mixture of mason jars, peanut butter jars, and other glass containers I've collected over the years — with water. Easy!

The spread of arrangements before we moved and set the table!

And that's how I turned store-bought flowers into pretty arrangements for a party. I told you it was easy!

Do you have any simple flower arranging tips to share?

Photographed by Gabriela Herman
Follow Gabriela on Twitter → @gab

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