1940s Centerpieces

A hurrican lantern on a table.
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As a decade split by contrasts that included the glamour of Hollywood and big bands to the extremes of war, nowhere was this more evident than in the decor styles of the period. For a themed centerpiece from the era, go with glitz, glamour and shine, more traditional options or a bit of baby boomer whimsy with soda pop bottle vases, a hurricane lantern and classic soda pop crate.

Glamour and Shine

A purple orchid.
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With a decade that has distinctively different themes when comparing its first half to its latter half, a glamorous 1940s centerpieces never fails. Three tall glass cylinders 3 to 4 inches in diameter of varying heights with 2 to 3 inches of clear glass beads on the bottom of each vase catch and reflect light around the room. The beads hold the cut branches of blooming orchids or white magnolias in place after leaving 4 inches clear at the top of the vase and filling with distilled water. A floating tea light candle in each vase provides subtle light when the vases are set on a mirrored silver tray with scattered petals at their bases.

Black, White and Art Deco

A field of blossoming white tulips.
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For a formal dinner party, and in honor of the Art Deco of the decade, go with a black-and-white theme for your centerpiece. Build it around a sleekly smooth and shiny black Art Deco cat with his tail curled about his hindquarters. Add three thick black single candleholders of varying heights behind the cat with wrist-thick pure white candles set atop. Three or four white tulips with a touch of green leaves for color in long and angular black vases and dinnerware in black and white complete a coordinated table.

Baby Boomer Whimsy

Three empty canning jars.
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The baby boomer era entered is first years right after World War Ii ended. In honor of the generation that changed the face of marketing, create a playful centerpiece. Start with a vintage wooden soda box as the base, labeled with a brand name soda from the era on its side. Empty soda bottles become charming vases for garden-cut flowers when tied with a white bow and filled with water. Or gather a handpicked bouquet of flowers, tie it with a white or pink satin ribbon and place the bouquet inside a vintage cocoa tin or canning jar placed inside the soda crate. For evening light, a '40s-style hurricane lamp on one side creates a flickering effect.

Classy Glitz

A white magnolia.
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Instead of using a '40s-style three-pronged silver candelabra for candles, re-purpose it as a base for a flowered centerpiece. Insert big hydrangea blossoms rimmed with white magnolias for a scented centerpiece into each of the individual candleholders and hold the flowers in place by hidden floral wire. Drape Art Deco crystal beads from the candelabra's arms to provide weighted balance that also catches and throws light around the room. Lay a single white ostrich feather at the candelabra's base for added glam effect.