8 Centerpieces for Your Dining Table When You’re Not Entertaining

This post was published September 2016 and updated March 2020.

Dining rooms are an important part of the home when you’re gathering with family or friends, but the reality is that most of the time, they sit empty waiting on your next dinner party. Which begs the question — what do you put on your dining room table when you’re not entertaining? It looks empty and sad if there’s no centerpiece, but who has time to arrange fresh flowers every week? We’ve pulled together 8 ways to give your dining table some personality without all the maintenance:

10 things to put on your dining table when you're not entertaining

1. A Collection of Urns or Vases

Our Blue and White Chinoiserie Collection makes a gorgeous centerpiece, especially when stacked on top of books and acrylic risers. We’ve made it easy to create this pretty arrangement because the whole collection is sized perfectly with the ideal mix of shapes. Rather than scattering your collection throughout the house, pile them on your dining room table to create a focal point.

A rosemary topiary is the perfect centerpiece when you aren't entertaining

2. Potted Plants

While we love the idea of always having a fresh flower arrangement on your dining table, that’s not a very realistic goal. But a potted plant like rosemary is something we think you all can handle as it requires far less care and attention. Plant a small rosemary plant in a pretty ceramic pot and add some moss on top, and you’re all set.

Stem holder as centerpiece in dining room

3. Stem Holder

There’s nothing more beautiful than putting flowers on display. Our new Rosaleen Stem Holder is a chic way to showcase freshly cut flowers, but don’t worry if you don’t have flowers on hand. We have a variety of faux stems that would look just as beautiful, and a bonus — they’ll never die. 

A pitcher with fall leaves makes for an easy centerpiece when you're not entertaining

4. Foraged Leaves

Some colorful leaves from the yard are another great solution. Just head out with some shears and see what pretty colors and shapes you can find. Throw them into a simple, white pitcher, and you’ve got a centerpiece that should last up to two weeks!

5. Candle Hurricanes 

“Hurricanes lit by candlelight make a welcoming entrance for guests,” says entertaining guru, Bunny Williams. And they also are a great focal point even when you’re not entertaining. To heighten the mood, consider adding multiple hurricanes to make an extra cozy statement. 

10 centerpieces for your dining room when you aren't entertaining

65. Add a Tablecloth

A tablecloth is a great way to give your dining room table a little personality when you aren’t hosting. We love the combination of a striped tablecloth with our blue and white chinoiserie vase and a potted house plant.

A collection of vases in varying heights

7. Vases and Candle Pillars

You’re probably sensing a theme here — a grouping of like objects in a variety of heights is a foolproof option. We love this arrangement because it combines sparkly, mercury glass with washed wood candle pillars. The two contrasting finishes feel unexpected but charming.

Treat your dining room like a library when you aren't entertaining

8. Like a Library

Treat your dining room like a old world library when you aren’t entertaining and pile up your prettiest coffee table books in stacks. Add in a few sculptural pieces, like Suzanne Kasler’s Lamp Slips, and you’re done!

For more centerpiece inspiration, check out these posts below: 

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Suzie Smith

    July 11, 2021

    What do u suggest for over a black grand piano, chandeliers type , in its own room off living room.

    • Reply

      Mallory Thomas

      July 12, 2021

      It’s hard to make a suggestion for a chandelier without seeing your space. We have a team of free interior designers who would love to help you figure out your decorating dilemma. Simply upload images of your room and your question here.
      Happy Decorating,

  2. Reply


    May 27, 2018

    I loved your suggestions for round tables. My dining room table is seven feet long.
    It is quite unusual. It is kinda rugged, gray wood with designs in the wood made out of crushed stone , blends in with the color I’m not doing it’s description justice but isbeautiful.

    Any ideas for a long table?

  3. Reply

    Maria Killam

    August 22, 2017

    Love these ideas and the fact that you’ve shown them all on round tables which I find more challenging to create tablescapes for than rectangular tables where there is more space!

  4. Reply


    November 18, 2016

    Great article and fab ideas…library?? YES!! Such a great idea! Also, the rattan(?) chairs with the bistro table. Are those for sale?

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      November 18, 2016

      Yes, the bistro chairs are for sale. They’re our Paris Bistro Chairs. I don’t believe that bistro table is available. Sorry about that.
      Glad you liked this blogpost! Thank you so much for your comment.

  5. Reply


    October 2, 2016

    Please tell me where to find the medium brown wood chair in the “Like A Library” section. Is that particular chair not sold by Ballard?

  6. Reply


    September 28, 2016

    Love this. I never thought to make a grouping on a table that is seen every day, but used for eating only rarely. I especially love the chinoiserie as I have a collection of delft objects. Thank you.

    • Reply

      How to Decorate

      September 29, 2016

      So glad you like it, Judi!

  7. Reply

    Donna Carroll

    September 22, 2016

    I love this article. However, I love your furnishings. White is my favorite color for walls expecially bright white.