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Getting Creative with Carnations

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carnation centerpiece ideas

Carnations seem to get a bit of a bad rap when it comes to the floral “status quo” – but the truth is that there are plenty of beautiful – and even cool – looks you can achieve with this budget-friendly flower.

Because of the price point and shape of carnations, they allow you to create soft, lush, and substantial floral arrangements – and just like anything else, it’s all about playing up their strengths and “packaging” them the right way. Here are a few great examples from floral designers who did just that….

Pictured at top – pretty carnation design ideas from

carnation centerpiece ideas

Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Mini carnation bouquets from; Todd Oldham™ Triple Scoop bouquet from FTD; a budget-friendly idea from Martha Stewart with a contemporary, yet feminine flair; and Todd Oldham™ Sweet Scoops Sundae bouquet from FTD.

Pictured below: This gorgeous “dome” design featuring all-white carnations & crystal strands is the epitomy of glam, but a similar arrangement works just as well at a casual beach wedding when paired with a simple, chic cake stand and “best wishes” notes from guests.

carnation centerpiece ideas

Pictured below… going beyond the centerpiece: This California bride had her bridesmaids carry pomanders of red carnations (which also hung from chairs lining the aisle) instead of the usual bouquets.

carnation centerpiece ideas

Last but not least… how cool is this(!): floating styrofoam balls covered with red, fuchsia and yellow carnations made a colorful splash in the pool at this St. Helena, CA reception.

carnation centerpiece ideas


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POSTED BY:jenn s.JENNIFER SBRANTI is the Founder and Creative Director of Hostess with the Mostess®, a hip and modern party planning resource.

35 responses to “Getting Creative with Carnations”

  1. DayOldNews says:

    I love the look from Martha Stewart. Those white vases look really great with the color of the carnations!

  2. amy @ stem says:

    Jenn –

    I love this so much. I used to be a total carnation snob but now they are one of my favorites. I love working with them en masse. (Still not a fan of them as “filler” in your everday boring arrangement but still….)

    I just sent a photo of the carnation balls atop a tray of wheat grass to a friend planning an event yesterday. I’ll have to send her this post!

    I’m sure you have, but have you (and your readers) seen this? I have been dying over Eddie’s simple cake and use of the candlestick as of late.

    I think one of the best parts of this post is that EVERYONE can recreate these designs. Don’t be intimiated to try them!

    Gorgeous eye candy! Thanks!

  3. nat says:

    eddie ross recently posted a great how-to for arranging carnations in bunches like this:

  4. nat says:

    wow, amy beat me to it by one minute! :)

  5. Leika says:

    Love it! I’m glad that carnations are finally started to get some recognition — I hated them forever, but finally came around to seeing the possibilities…in fact, my bridal party will be carrying them at my June wedding!

  6. jenn s. says:

    The Martha look is one of my favorites too – budget-friendly AND super easy… love it :)

    Amy – I actually hadn’t seen that post of Eddie’s yet and it’s fabulous! Thanks for sharing! :)

  7. Taylor says:

    Love ice cream cone and sundae. I just love!

  8. Trina says:

    These are beautiful! I’ll admit i’ve never been a fan of carnations, they’ve always been considered “cheap”, but these absolutely change my mind.

    I’ll have to pick some up for myself tonight!


  9. Caitlin says:

    I used bunched white carnations for my bridesmaids to carry in my November ’07 wedding – they ended up looking like a mass of peonies (which is what I would have LOVED to have if it wasn’t for the pesky fall/winter season). Really beautiful and my bridesmaids loved them!

  10. Kim O. says:

    Wow! I thought that I hated carnations, but these are really cool! :)

  11. Gabreial says:

    Wow, these are gorgeous. What a fabulous idea.


  12. Coupon Queen says:

    those are really great decorations for weddings.
    Anyone have any good wedding gift coupons?

  13. Jennifer says:

    Stunning ideas! Thank you!

  14. Sandra @ Ribbons and Favors says:

    I have always loved carnations an felt they got kind of bum wrap – until now. At times even the florist looked at me like I was crazy when I said “Carnations please” – so who’s crazy now….these are beautiful. Finally this simply little flower is “showing off” !

  15. These are beautiful! I made carnation kissing balls for my sister’s wedding several years ago in citrus colors. They looked fantastic, but they took more flowers than I thought they would for that lush look. Don’t underplan (cause the grocery store might not have a bunch of extra carnations hanging around in the right color in the middle of the night. :-))

  16. jomygoodness says:

    i love this post! it’s funny because I was going to post something about carnations today too since they’re showing up everywhere… instead, I posted about orchids! =)

  17. Jess says:

    You know, I’m not usually a huge fan of carnations, but these arrangements make them look ultra-appealing. Nice finds :)

  18. Andrea says:

    I’m gonna have to echo everyone else…until I saw these pictures I have always disliked carnations. Receiving a single long stemmed carnation always seemed like a bit of a disappointment [i.e. in school].

    I love the creativity shown here and the way you reminded us to play up the strengths…
    THAT’S GREAT ADVICE [for many situations]!!!

  19. Andrea says:

    The deep fuchsia in the first picture looks delicious!

  20. celeste says:

    I love these! I plan on using a few of these ideas this summer!

  21. Julianne says:

    I love carnations, they are totally underated and always look so much better bunched together!


  22. I adore this post!! The carnations look FABULOUS in every picture!! Great flower inspiration!!

  23. You know… I have been running from carnations for a long time. This has shown me that you can really add flare with these under represented flowers! Cheers to the Carnation!

  24. Our sorority flower is the “wine carnation” and we were always bummed to have such a plain jane flower. You really show how carnations can look [email protected]!

    I love this, I’m going to send it to all my Pi Phi sisters! thank you!

  25. i’m amazed of how carnations can look so pretty and classy. very nice done :)

  26. Very well done. I love all the colors too!

  27. Heather says:

    I have always liked the look of carnations, even when everyone told me they were funeral flowers! I especially love them when clumped together in a ball-type bouquet. Those bridesmaids bouquets are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the carnation love.

  28. Sarah says:

    This is fantastic…and welcome back carnations! They smell wonderful and are truly beautiful.

  29. lea says:

    i agree that carnations get a bad wrap. these look really beautiful and I think you can get really creative with them.

  30. ana says:

    Hi ! I love your blog you have such great ideas, and this in particular is fantastic, I’m just wondering how to make the carnation balls ??? I’m going to help a friend decorate her party and I would like to do this carnations balls myself could you help me???

    thanks a lot
    from Mexico

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