Fall flowers such as dahlias and chrysanthemums give so much color and texture to a garden and to a dining room centerpiece. Their vibrant shades of every color flower pair perfectly with whatever dinner theme you are creating. Dahlias and chrysanthemums are both fairly hearty (especially the mums) and last throughout colder weather. But beware— never give chrysanthemums to a French person! They use them around All Saint’s Day or Toussaint (November 1) as grave decorations for lost loved ones. For the French, these flowers symbolize death and would be an awkward gift.
Fresh flowers on a table are not only beautiful, they say, “I care. I thought about this dinner and want it to be special.” Even a small bouquet of well-chosen flowers or foliage creates a simple elegance that shows your guests you want everything to be perfect.
This is one of my favorite party decorating tips: I love collecting interesting containers all year and planting my bulbs or flowers in them so they are ready for a party. I have a wonderful collection of big planters for outdoor gatherings, towers for buffet tables, small containers for intimate dinners, and vases of varying heights and styles for cut flowers.
My cookbook Ooh la la! French Inspirations for Entertaining and Travel has many ideas for using flowers to decorate your home.