How To Make Calming Holiday Centerpieces

holiday floral centerpiece

Photography and Floral Design: Cambria Sinclair, “Holiday Floral Centerpiece”, 12/2/2020, @cambria_sinclair

Written by Cambria Sinclair | Edited By: Carol Coutinho

December 10, 2020

The holiday season is known for filling our homes and businesses with the warming scent of cinnamon spiced pine cones, the fresh woody smell of spruce and pine, and the lazy wafting of scents from our favorite candles. These comforting scents and flavors can be highly contrasted with the feelings of stress, depression, loneliness, and busyness  that often plague the holiday season. With the increased probability of cancelled holiday events, decreased holiday activities, and stress from preparing holiday festivities and meals, I wanted to see if I could utilize traditional and nontraditional scents and visuals to create relaxing and festive holiday centerpieces. Through research and consultation of experts in the areas of color theory, aromatherapy and aromatics, and seasonal plants, I have put together a guide for creating stunning centerpieces that combat negative emotions while promoting an array of positive ones. These tip and pointers can be used in any kind of holiday centerpiece, not just floral centerpieces. Continue reading to learn how to create beautiful centerpieces for any home or business that will be visually appealing and help you feel good and beat those holiday blues.

What Colors To Choose For Your Holiday Centerpiece?

While we all love to sport the traditional colors of our celebrated holidays; red and green for Christmas, blue and silver (or white) of Hanukkah, and red – black- and green for Kwanzaa, there are many other unexpected seasonal colors that can be used in centerpieces that will give your house a relaxing and modern seasonal atmosphere. Here are some colors to use and avoid, and color combinations to promote relaxation, festive excitement, and comfort. And as always, the perception and psychological effect of colors can vary per person, these recommendations and meanings are based on color theory and color psychology studies that have been medically reviewed.

color theory and psychology infographic

Cambria Sinclair, “Color Psychology”, 12/1/2020, @cambria_sinclair.

For an energizing and festive modern holiday centerpiece, I recommend pairing shades of red with white, green, and a hint of blue. This color combination will help enliven your spirits and get you in the holiday mood.  Look for centerpieces that energise and enliven in the centerpiece library below. If you are a huge fan of cool colors like blue and purple try out the relaxing and calming centerpieces, but be careful because these could influence feelings of sadness and loneliness. 

How To Use Aromatherapy And Scent in Your Holiday Centerpiece

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Marge Clark, the founder and president of Nature’s Gift Aromatherapy, on the emotional and mental effects of essential oils and scents, and what seasonal oils and scents give off calming and relaxing effects. I learned about the difference between essential oils and natural scents from flowers and plants, and I am very excited to share this wisdom with you. One main point that I never thought about before was the actual difference between the strength and fragrance given off from essential oils, and that of plants and flowers. It takes a lot of plant matter to extract the fragrant oil that is used in essential oils, however, this does not mean that aromatic plants can’t give off the same relaxing and calming benefits. This is what Marge has to say on the calming and relaxing effects of flower scents versus essential oils-

In your opinion, can someone get similar relaxing or calming effects from using plants or flowers instead of essential oils?

 “Yes… although I love my oils, there is a visual component in a bouquet of roses, or in a small nosegay of violets, that brings a different emotional response. Also for generations women have been making potpourri out of dried flowers, and scenting linens with them. The effects are different, but I would not say better or worse.” – Marge Clark

When thinking of the mental and emotional affect scents can have on us, Marge recommended setting up a diffuser to have the most impact. When interviewing her she mentioned that inhalation is the most effective way to gain the emotional and mental benefits from essential oils. “The best method of use really depends on your objective, but the most effective way to get an oil into the bloodstream (and hence receive its physical and/or emotional effects) would be by inhalation. We recommend diffusers, to fill the room with aromatic molecules”. Here is a list of seasonal essential oils and scents along with their emotional and mental attributes. Check out Nature’s Gift Aromatherapy for their ethically sourced essential oils, and consider getting a diffuser to put out around the holidays to help promote a happy and calm holiday experience.

aromatherapy for the holiday season

Cambria Sinclair, “Scents and Essential Oils Perfect for Holiday Centerpieces”, 12/1/2020, @cambria_sinclair

Another useful trick to incorporate essential oils into your centerpieces is to hide a cotton ball or essential oil pad in your centerpiece, and add a few drops of your chosen essential oil every few hours. This is helpful for those who do not have a diffuser or don’t want to use one.

winter floral arrangement

Cambria Sinclair, “Essential Oil Use”, 12/2/20, @cambria_sinclair

Which Seasonal Plants And Flowers Are Best For Centerpieces?

Utilizing seasonal plants and flowers in live or cut centerpieces can instantly brighten and enliven  a room, and create a sense of festivity for the holiday season. I interviewed master gardener and co-founder/owner of Buds n’ Bloom Design Studio, Jerad Karcz, about seasonal plants and flowers that visually and aromatically create calming holiday feelings. Jerad recommends having fun with your centerpieces; add in metallic details by painting the back of Magnolia leaves, frost greenery with white floral spray paint, and hang small ornaments off of jutting out willow branches. When creating or ordering floral arrangements Jerad highly recommends you think about placement. If the arrangement is going on your kitchen table- go for a long and low profile piece, if it’s for your mantel the piece only needs to be one-sided. It’s important to note that flower arrangements can last anywhere from 10 days to a month, it all depends on what type of foliage you choose. Greenery like evergreen and eucalyptus will last longer, while cut flowers like roses and stock with have shorter lifespans. 

Seasonal Plants

  • Poinsettia
  • Christmas cactus 
  • Frosty fern 
  • Paperwhites (potted daffodils)
  • Orchid

Seasonal Cut Flowers

  • Winter rose/rose
  • Amaryllis 
  • Magnolia
  • Winterberry
  • Tulip
  • Crocus

Seasonal Greenery 

  • White Pine
  • Black Spruce
  • Eucalyptus
  • Balsam Fir
  • Magnolia Leaves
  • Agonis

Aeromatic Plants

  • Oriental Lily
  •  Eucalyptus
  • Stock
  • Pine and Fir branches
  • Tuberose
  • Hyacinth
  • Gardenia plant
  •  Carnation


Centerpiece Library



Best with Lavender, Chamomile, and Neroli essential oils

buds 'n bloom relaxing floral centerpiece
relaxing holiday centerpiece
buds 'n bloom relaxing floral centerpiece


Pair with Frankincense, Cinnamon, or Balsam Fir essential oils

buds 'n bloom energizing centerpiece
buds 'n bloom energizing centerpiece
buds 'n bloom energizing floral centerpiece


Use Siberian Fir, Black Sprice, Cinnamon, or Eucalyptus essential oils

buds 'n bloom holiday floral centerpiece
buds 'n bloom holiday floral centerpiece
buds 'n bloom holiday floral centerpiece

Buds ‘n Bloom Design Studio, “Floral Arrangements”, 12/4/2020, @budsnbloom

I hope this information on color psychology, aromatherapy and scents, and seasonal flowers inspires you to create the perfect centerpiece for your holiday season. Try experimenting throughout the holiday season, these tips and tricks can be applied to any number of winter holidays. Treat yourself to bouquets for christmas and valentines day, or your solo New Years celebration. Centerpieces should be enjoyed all the time, they aren’t exclusive to large family gatherings or celebrations. Celebrate your virtual christmas with your family this year by all creating matching centerpieces, or challenge your siblings or friends to a relaxing holiday centerpiece competition! We want to see how this article has inspired you, tag and share your holiday centerpieces on instagram with us so we can see your masterpieces!

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