The cornucopia, that symbol of abundance and the harvest, has graced the Thanksgiving table or sideboard for generations. While the original version, in ancient Greece, was a goat’s horn, the American cornucopia is typically a horn-shaped wicker basket filled with a colorful array of fall vegetables and fruit.
With a little shopping and creativity, it’s easy to update the traditional cornucopia without diminishing its sense of plenty and celebration.
Instead of the usual variety of produce, consider a group of similarly hued fruits, vegetables and plant material. A coordinating vessel adds style.
For instance, West Elm has an ivory ceramic cornucopia that would look lovely filled with cream- and caramel-colored goodies. Maybe wheat sheaves, golden apples, pears and mini white pumpkins for a display that’s sophisticated yet still warm and homey (www.westelm.com, $39).
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Shop for faux pumpkins, gourds and figs and dried artichokes that can be reused each year. You could mix them or use multiples of just one. (Pottery Barn carries them: www.potterybarn.com, $14.50 and up.) Consider incorporating a few pheasant feathers and, to amp up the flair, some copper or bronze glitter.
If you don’t have a horn-shaped vessel, look around the house or shop for pieces that can stand in – a tiered stand or a wooden trough, for example.
Martha Stewart’s craft editors suggest making mini cornucopias out of chair caning. Stuffed with tissue and a handful of nuts, they make clever party favors. Larger versions can be filled with pear branches, seeded eucalyptus and dried flowers for door decor. They would look great right through winter’s holiday season (www.marthastewart.com).
Craft suppliers stock horn-shaped baskets of grapevine; they’re available in sizes from 12 to 48 inches (one example: www.brena.com, $22 to $263.30), and even mini place-card or table-favor sizes. (www.factorydirectcraft.com, $1.49)
You can create your own horn-shaped receptacle out of all sorts of materials. Artist Natalie Raevsky has instructions on her blog to make one out of papier mache, lined with burlap and wrapped with raffia. (www.nraevsky.blogspot.com)
Or make a mold by sanding a foam cone into the shape of a horn, wrapping it with jute and painting it with glue. When the glue dries, pull out the foam and fill (www.holiday-crafts-and-creations.com).
Better Homes and Gardens’ November issue has a chic, easy twist on the cornucopia: Wrap double layers of shimmery gold-green floral mesh into a loose horn shape and finish with a silky ribbon (www.bhg.com). Gilded or glitter-dusted nuts and fruit would look spectacular among some candles, or go with a simple cluster of dried hydrangea.
For a minimalist, rustic or edgier look, form some hardware-store aluminum chicken wire into the horn and fill with pine cones. Edible versions are a fun project for children to help with. The Idea Room has instructions for one made of bread dough (www.theidearoom.net).