The memory of the ubiquitous FTD cornucopia, festooned with a somewhat random candle, sprig of wheat or cinnamon stick, is a familiar one for many of us. If I think back to the 70’s and Thanksgiving holidays from my youth, Charlie Brown tv specials and commercials featuring the iconic golden messenger promoting the odd-shaped basket stuffed full of carnations are the b-roll that play on a loop in my mind. A nice nostalgic moment, but this is not necessarily what I want on my Thanksgiving table.

Oh, my. Sorry, Hermes, these do nothing to “pick-me-up”. (Image: FTD sites)

The historical significance of the cornucopia and its allusions to Zeus’ giant goat horn or the Holy Grail make it the perfect motif for celebrating this season of abundance. And yet so often, this horn of plenty has wound up looking more like a cone of shame (see above photos), hardly befitting any modern pilgrim’s Thanksgiving table. Having been lured by my own sentimentality this year, I began an earnest quest to find a cornucopia that’s NOT, well, corny. As you’ll see in the photos that follow, the solution to one problem has created a new one: an abundance of choices! (A good problem. I’ll take it!) Here are just a few of the ones I loved:

Of course, Martha presents an idea for a handmade raffia stunner. (Image: marthastewart.com)

This contemporary design shows an interesting interpretation on the theme. (Image: BHG.com)

This one looks doable, though not sure where to find an attractive wire-framed version. Definitely liking the idea of setting it atop a silver platter, maybe perched on the sideboard. (Image: HGTV Magazine)

Though magazines, websites, and, of course, Pinterest, provided great inspiration for my quest, I needed a more hands-on approach to figure out how to turn my idea into a real tablescape. I stopped by Lucy’s Market to ask owner Kim Wilson how she constructed her fantastic cornucopias. She recommended a few simple steps:

First, gather all your materials, considering the autumn palette and the elements available during the season: leaves, berries, sticks, pinecones, Indian corn, gourds, etc.

Next, layer the pieces in the basket, according to size.
Think of the cornucopia as a vase on it’s side–put longer pieces on the bottom, bigger elements in the back.

Don’t forget about green. Magnolia leaves fill up dead space in the back, and artichokes tumble down front with the gourds.

Consider a mix of good quality “fakes” mixed in with the real thing, depending on how long you plan to display. Rotting gourds and oozing pumpkins are not the least bit festive.

Bottom line, making a cornucopia centerpiece is really simple, I’ve discovered. And keeping it simple prevents it from appearing hokey or dated. I’m ready to conquer!

Thanks, Kim!

Lucy’s Thanksgiving abundance overflows. Look at that adorable topiary turkey and his gobbler pal made of pinecones and twigs.

SB Note: From bountifully-sized baskets to bittersweet branches, Lucy’s Market carries everything needed to build these showstoppers. If you’re not confident about your own abilities, there’s still time to order one of Kim’s creations. Head over to the Buckhead store or check them out online at www.lucysmarket.com for more details on  products, menus, and specials.