A branch centerpiece can give a table a dramatic, modern look. Branch centerpieces are durable--they won't easily wilt, like floral arrangements. They are also an excellent budget choice, especially if the branches come from your own back yard.
Purchase artificial branches or cut branches from your own trees. Choose branches with curves and shape variations. Branches that are wider at the bottom and tapered at the ends will create a more interesting arrangement. It's best to gather more branches than you think you'll need.
In the spring, choose flowering branches such as forsythia, quince or cherry. Even if you don't have your own flowering trees, you can often buy fresh flowering branches at local green markets.
Choose a clear glass vase, or other container, that is wide at the top, so the whole branch is visible, and the branches can spread out from the center of the arrangement. Tall, cylindrical glass vases are also good choices.
If you use flowering branches, display them in their natural state to let their beauty shine through. However, if you have artificial or plain branches, you can paint the branches with spray paint. This will emphasize the beautiful lines of the branches and create contrast against your table setting. Choose white, gold, silver or glitter paint for a wedding or party display. To paint your branches white, choose white spray primer instead of spray paint, for better coverage. It's safest to spray the paint outdoors. If that's not an option, cover your work area with a painter's drop cloth or newspaper and wear a ventilation mask so you don't inhale paint fumes.
If you plan to paint your branches, first allow them to dry for a day or two before you paint them. If you're using flowering branches, store them upright in a container filled with an inch or two of water.
To make a large branch centerpiece using plain branches, select the three longest branches and set them aside. Place one of the long branches in the right side of your container, allowing it to fall toward the left. Then place another long branch on the left side, allowing it to fall to the right. Place the third long branch in the center of the vase, using the first two branches to stabilize it so that it points straight up. Then fill in the arrangement with smaller branches. During the arranging process, make sure to pause and step back to view the arrangement from a distance. Also remember to rotate the container, to view it from different angles.
If you are making a display out of flowering branches, fill the bottom of the container with an inch of water. Create a display the same way as with the plain branches, or create a minimalist arrangement by displaying a single branch in one vase. Another option is to display a flowering branch inside a tall, clear glass cylinder vase, and clip the branch to the same height as the vase, so that it can be seen through the glass.