In making a gourd centerpiece decoration, one of the first things you must decide is whether you want to go traditional or comic. Either way can capture the essence of the holiday. For example, you can do a lovely horn of plenty using, in part, local foliage and berries, or you can use your gourd to make a representational piece like a turkey, for an example.
To some the turkey may sound much more difficult, but I assure you, for the beginner, the converse is true. You usually have clear cut directions when you do something representational; that is, there is only one place for the turkey’s wing for example, to go. But when making a traditional centerpiece you must rely on your own judgment and creative eye. This can be a little daunting in the beginning, but when you realize that there is no such thing as a mistake, you can relax and enjoy the process.
Using gourds for Thanksgiving basket decorations is like using them as mini cornucopias. Therefore, you need to think, what would you put in a cornucopia? Thanksgiving should evoke images of autumn and it’s colors, of the harvest, and of nature in general. Hence, the first place you should be looking for ideas is in your own back yard and general surroundings.
Look for colored leaves and other interesting foliage, brightly colored berries still on the branch, and any other item you can find that screams nature. Just make sure the item is clean; hence, bird feathers are out unless you buy them. Yes, that blue jay’s feather is pretty, but remember, this gourd is going to be on your dining room table, and some people are going to be offended by what they perceive to be unsanitary. And in this instance, they’d probably be right.
Let’s not forget the base of the gourd! You won’t want to fill this thing up like a vase and then have nothing surrounding it. Pine cones work well here as do ears of colored corn as both can be laid casually around the gourd as if nature left them there.
Make sure you get a dried gourd. If so, you can use this same gourd year after year after treating it with polyurethane. Just remove the top with a drill (using a knife is not recommended as you are more likely to ruin the gourd) remove the insides, (expect some dust), and you’re ready to begin. Let the polyurethane dry for at least four hours before you start your arrangement.
Another way of making your basket is with candles. Here you will turn the gourd into a candle holder. Drill lots of little holes into the gourd, paint it, then polyurethane it and put a little sand in the bottom for balance, and instead of stuffing the inside of the gourd with the leaves and berries you will put a candle in it and put your leaves around the gourd. Just don’t leave the gourd unattended once the candle is lit if you plan on putting anything around it as you don’t want a fire. Otherwise, you should be able to safely use the gourd as a candle holder.
Remember, the most important aspect of decorating your gourd basket is to focus on images of autumn whether those images be comic or serious, or whether you use your gourd as a cornucopia type centerpiece or a candle holder. Just use your gourd in any way that pays homage to the harvest, to autumn, and your gourd basket will be a success.