How to Make a Turkey Centerpiece from Flowers

When it comes to Thanksgiving centerpieces, this turkey made from flowers will gobble up all the compliments. Although this turkey is made with chrysanthemums, a bird of paradise, a palm frond and cattails, you can substitute different flowers, depending on what's available in your area. After all, there's more than one way to prepare a turkey.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Things You'll Need

  • Floral foam
  • Knife
  • Bucket
  • Platter
  • Scissors
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Palm frond
  • Cattails
  • Bird of paradise flower
(Image: Jonathan Fong)

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Step 1: Carve the Floral Foam

Floral foam comes in standard-sized bricks in the floral supply section of your local crafts store. Carve the floral foam with a knife, rounding out the edges until you have an oval shape.


  • Purchase floral foam that is designated for fresh flowers, as stores also sell floral foam for artificial flowers. Only the foam for real flowers will absorb water.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 2: Soak the Foam

Place the carved floral foam in a bucket of water. You will know that the foam is completely absorbed with water when it turns dark green. Then place the wet floral foam on a platter.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 3: Cut the Chrysanthemums

Reddish-brown chrysanthemums are plentiful during the fall season, and the petals make perfect turkey feathers for your arrangement. If you don't have access to chrysanthemums, any flower with petals of a similar color family will work. Chrysanthemums are inexpensive and typically come in big bunches of about 25 buds. You will need about three bunches of flowers to cover the floral foam. Using scissors, cut the stems to about 1 inch.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 4: Insert the Flowers

Insert the stems straight down into the floral foam, starting at the top and working your way down. Push the stem all the way in until the bud reaches the foam.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

As you move down, insert the flowers at an angle to create a dome shape.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

When you're done covering the floral foam in flowers, you will have what looks like a meatloaf — a turkey meatloaf.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 5: Cut the Palm Frond

A palm frond creates the turkey's tail feathers, as the leaves splay out like plumage. If you don't have a palm frond, you can use ferns, pine branches or even stalks of rosemary — just as long as they fan out like a turkey's tail. Trim the stem of the palm frond, leaving about 2 inches. You may also need to cut off some of the bottom leaves of the palm frond if it's too long.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 6: Insert the Palm Frond

At the back of the turkey body, insert the palm frond. At this point, it looks more like a pineapple than a turkey, but don't worry, it will look like a turkey soon enough.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 7: Trim the Cattails

To add more dimension to the turkey tails, add more fall botanicals that will help shape the plumage. Cattails are used in this example, but you can also use wheat stalks, foxtails, lavender, corn husks or any other natural element you can arrange in a semi-circle in the back. Whatever you use, trim the individual stalks to about 12 to 14 inches.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 8: Insert Cattails

Insert the stems of the cattails into the floral foam directly in front of the palm frond.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 9: Cut the Bird of Paradise

For the turkey head and neck, a bird of paradise is ideal because it already looks like an aviary creature. Cut the stem to about 12 inches with scissors. If you cannot find a bird of paradise, look for another flower with a long, thick stem and a large head, like a calla lily. Or use a thick branch and place a chili pepper on the end as a head. Or, there's nothing wrong with cutting out a paper head and neck and attaching it to the front.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 10: Insert the "Turkey Head"

Insert the stem at the front of the turkey's body, pushing aside a few flowers to fit the stem in. If you feel the neck is too long compared to the feathers, trim the stem a few more inches until you're happy with the proportion.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Display the turkey centerpiece proudly on your table, or make one as a hostess gift. Thanks to the floral foam, the arrangement will last for about a week. And whoever receives it will certainly be giving thanks — to you.

(Image: Jonathan Fong)
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