The cornucopia, that symbol of abundance and the harvest, has graced the Thanskgiving 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 some creative time set aside, 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 co-ordinating vessel adds style.
For instance, West Elm has an ivory cast-terracotta cornucopia that would look lovely filled with cream- and caramel-colored goodies. Think wheat sheaves, golden apples, pears and mini white pumpkins for a display that's sophisticated yet still warm and homey. (www.westelm.com, $39)
Pottery Barn has a selection of realistic-looking faux pumpkins, gourds, dried artichokes and figs which can be reused each year. You could mix them or use multiples of just one. (www.potterybarn.com, $14.50 and up). Consider incorporating a few pheasant feathers and, to amp up the flair, some copper or bronze glitter.
Martha Stewart's craft editors suggest making mini cornucopias out of chair caning, or larger ones for door decor. The small ones, stuffed with tissue and a handful of nuts, make clever party favours. The big versions, filled with pear branches, seeded eucalyptus and dried flowers, would look great right through to winter's holiday season. (www.marthastewart.com)
Craft suppliers stock grapevine horn-shaped baskets; they're available in sizes from 12 to 48 inches (www.brena.com, $22 to $263.30), and even mini place-card or table-favour 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 mould 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) or, if you'd like to place yours on the Thanksgiving dessert table, make one out of chocolate that can be filled with berries and grapes. (www.thechocolatebelles.com)