What do you put in the middle of a large outdoor dining table?

The Lazy Susan team are looking at what you can put in the middle of a large outdoor dining table to create a focal point, enhance aesthetic appeal, and add to the ambience of your patio area…

We have published several posts recently that discuss the importance of a garden table centrepiece, and whilst we mentioned a few examples, we didn’t go into any detail. In this article, we want to specifically focus on what you can put in the middle of a large outdoor dining table.

In our favourite ways to accessorise a 6-seater outdoor dining table article (we would class our 6, 8 and 10+ sets as large) we quoted the good folks at Homes & Gardens who stated in their rules for a table centrepiece that:

“The centrepiece is the most impactful element in curating a beautiful table-scape – so it is important to get it right. While it may feel hard to go wrong with a timeless vase, candlestick, or fruit bowl – you can accentuate their beauty further with the right advice.”

That article was looking at indoor tables but the same is true for their outside alfresco dining kin too and we would define a garden table centrepiece as:

“A decorative item or arrangement placed at the centre of a table in a garden or outdoor setting. Its purpose is to create a focal point that draws the eye, enhances the aesthetic appeal of the garden table itself, and adds to the overall ambiance of your outdoor space.”

How do you choose what to put in the middle of a large garden table?

How do you choose what to put in the middle of a large garden table?

Choosing a centrepiece for large garden tables can be a tricky one as there's a lot of tabletop space to play with. The obvious choice is to go for a large potted plant or flowers and, to be honest, that is our preference too. It just works, looks great, and requires minimal maintenance!

However, there are other options, and also some practical things to consider to help you get the right plant, flowers or any other type of centrepiece for your larger-scaled outdoor dining table:

  1. Table 
    Work with the size and shape of your outdoor dining table. For a large rectangular or oval table, opt for a longer arrangement or multiple items spaced evenly down the centre. For a large diameter round or square patio table, a single large centrepiece or a clustered arrangement tends to work well.

  2. Theme
    Choose a garden table centrepiece that matches the theme or style of your outdoor space (for example, rustic, modern, coastal, classical, etc). Consider seasonal themes, such as fresh daffodils for spring or potted snowdrops in winter.

  3. Function
    You want a centrepiece that is large enough to complement the size of the table but not so large that it obstructs views across it and prevents the flow of conversation. Low-profile arrangements are ideal for an outdoor dining table so choose a centrepiece that leaves space for food, place settings, and eye contact.

  4. Weather
    Select items that can withstand outdoor elements like wind, sun, and rain. Opt for sturdy heavyweight materials like ceramic, and metal, and if you choose to plant, pick variants that will thrive based on your table's location and the levels of sun, shade, moisture, etc.

  5. Lighting
    Incorporate lighting elements into your centrepiece such as candles, lanterns, or string lights to create a warm ambience, especially for when the sun sets at an evening gathering.

  6. Style
    Reflect your style in the centrepiece and include items that have personal meaning or significance, such as gifts from friends and family or handmade crafts.

Why centrepiece scale matters on larger outdoor tables

Why centrepiece scale matters on larger outdoor tables

We touched on it under the function above, but scale is critical. We are talking about a large outdoor dining-style table, so you don’t want something too small (or too big for that matter) placed in the middle. When choosing a centrepiece for a large dining table because it will directly impact the overall visual balance and functionality of the table itself, so think about the following design criteria:

  1. Proportion
    A large dining table requires a centrepiece that is big enough to be noticed and create an eye-catching focal point but not so large that it overwhelms the table or obstructs views across it.

  2. Balance
    The centrepiece should visually anchor the table setting and tie together the elements around it. An appropriately scaled centrepiece will ensure harmony and cohesion in the overall outdoor dining area.

  3. Function
    A good centrepiece should not impede the flow of conversation across the table and leave enough space for place settings, serving dishes, and movement of tableware during your al fresco meal or BBQ.

  4. Harmony
    It should harmonise with its surroundings and complement rather than overpower the natural or architectural elements of the space itself.

  5. Practical
    An appropriately sized centrepiece will allow for practical use of the table, such as serving dishes and sharing food during meals. It should enhance, not hinder, the functionality of the patio dining space.

In essence, choosing the right scale for a centrepiece involves considering the size of the dining table, the space around it, and how the centrepiece interacts with the dining experience. You want an item or items that enhance without dominating, to create a harmonious and inviting atmosphere for garden dining and socialising.

Our favourite outdoor dining table centrepiece ideas

Some of our favourite things to put in the middle of a large outdoor dining table include:

1. Floral Centrepiece

Floral Centrepiece on a Large Garden Table

If you like to keep things fresh and seasonal, then this Lazy Susan customer has paired our Daisie Garden Table with a simple vase of fresh flowers. Use seasonal flowers in a tall, elegant glass vase or arrange several smaller vases with a few different clusters of flowers in each. If you want to create a more rustic look, then a simple assortment of freshly picked wildflowers in a large, rustic container makes a fab low-cost centrepiece.

2. Potted Plant Centrepiece

Potted Plant Centrepiece on our Large Madison Patio Table

If you want something a little longer lasting, then this customer has paired our large rectangular Madison Patio Table with and assortment of smaller potted plants down the middle. Other options we love include taking a large shallow dish and filling it with an assortment of hardy succulents for the off-season or a group of potted orchids that can bring a touch of elegance to your outdoor dining area in summer.

3. Lighting Centrepiece

Lighting Centrepiece on a Large Outdoor Dining Table

If you like to entertain into the evening when the weather permits, then this customer has paired our 6-seater Alice Outdoor Dining Table with some simple candles to create a beautiful ambience. You could place a row of lanterns of varying heights or group different-sized candles on a large tray, in glassware or on one of our revolving Lazy Susans as they’ve done here.

4. Edible Centrepiece

Edible Centrepiece on our Large Francis Outdoor Dining Table

One of our current favourite centrepieces is the edible variety, and this customer has placed a simple plate of fruit on our Frances Table to dramatic effect. A large, decorative bowl filled with colourful fruits in summer, an assortment of seasonal vegetables in a rustic basket for autumn, or a small potted herb garden would bring style, function and a great smell to your patio dining area.

5. Themed Centrepiece

A Wedding Themed Centrepiece on our Frances Table

A theme is a great way to connect your garden dining table to the seasons or your wider outdoor space. This customer has again paired our Frances Table (but this time in our slate finish) with a beautiful wedding centrepiece. Other popular themes include filling a tray with sand, seashells, and small candles for some beach vibes or decorating your outdoor table with pumpkins and fallen leaves for autumn or Christmas ornaments during the holidays.

6. Functional Centrepiece

A Functional Centrepiece on our June Garden Table

We love good style but function is just as important, be it one of our revolving Lazy Susan servers, drinks, snacks or a charcuterie board that guests can nibble on. This customer has taken our June Garden Dining Table and set it ready for a summer party complete with a champagne bucket centrepiece.

7. Artistic Centrepiece

An Artistic Centrepiece on our Large Rosemary Patio Dining Table

You can also use the centrepiece as a way to express your style and creativity. Get crafty and make something special. Pop a small garden sculpture or decorative statue. Use artistic ceramic bowls filled with decorative items like glass marbles, pebbles, or dried flowers. Make a colourful mosaic tray with small items like candles or plants. The customer above has our large oval Rosemary Patio Table and they have positioned a host of personal elements on a Lazy Susan to create a stunning centrepiece

These are just a few simple ideas to get you thinking about what you can put in the middle of a large outdoor dining table. By selecting items that complement your outdoor setting and style, you can create a beautiful and functional centrepiece that enhances your patio dining experience.

If you have a centrepiece on one of our large outdoor dining tables then we would love to see a few photos for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or Upload Here.

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