Don’t Forget the Flowers on Your Next Grocery-Store Trip

Four ways to make basic blooms feel special.

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Queen of all things leafy green, Kate Berry is our resident plant expert, always at the ready with pro tips (tulips belong in cold water) or, if you’re lucky, a bouquet hand-delivered to your desk. You can often find Domino’s executive creative director traversing New York’s flower district for eye-catching inspiration. Recently, though, at home like the rest of us, Berry had a challenge on her hands: “How do I make chic, elegant arrangements with no access to a proper flower market?” The answer? The grocery store.

Berry went to her local Trader Joe’s equipped with only her impeccable eye—she skips bruised or wilting florals and looks for firm, tight buds with hints of green, indicators of optimal freshness—and left with the supplies for four budget-friendly creations (each under $25!).

Whether you’re setting your table for an at-home spring celebration or a Zoom holiday meal with family far and wide, Berry’s tips for turning simple flowers into elegant arrangements are sure to  impress—and bring a little burst of joy to your home. These days, what more can we really ask for?

Make It Monochrome 

Vases The Webster; Dinnerware KPM; Tablecloth Heather Taylor Home; Silver Georg Jensen. Photography by Kate Berry

Flowers: Alstroemeria, double variegated tulips, roses, mums, mini carnations, carnations, lilies Total price: $22 The story: Instead of avoiding the prearranged blooms, make them your own. “I spotted a less-than-beautiful bouquet with a few stellar standouts and paired them with solid bunches in the same color family (in this case, pink) to instantly elevate them,” explains Berry. With black-and-blush–striped cups as stand-ins for proper vases, a tablescape you can almost smell just by looking at it was born. Pro tip: For maximum eye candy, Berry recommends varying the buds’ size and shape while staying true to the palette.

Embrace the Eclectic 

Vases by Iittala, Alvar Aalto, and Juliska; Candlesticks Caravan; Plates John Derian for Astier de Villatte; Silverware Georg Jensen; Tablecloth Sferra. Photography by Kate Berry

Flowers: Delphinium, baby’s breath, Queen Anne’s lace, mums Total price: $10 The story: While shopping, Berry found herself particularly drawn to a bundle of her wispy favorites, like baby’s breath and Queen Anne’s lace. “I like to experiment with something more unusual when I get the chance,” she says. When she got home, she gathered a bunch of random cups, vases, and candlesticks in green hues, then picked out stems from the bouquets and placed one or two in each vessel. As Berry notes, “Sometimes less is more.” Pro tip: When using color as a throughline, don’t be afraid to mix and match your flowers and vases. You never know what might work when you go for the unexpected.

Let the Unsung Hero Shine 

Dinnerware Mud Australia; Glasses Juliska; Linens Heather Taylor Home; Silver Vintage Prada; Vases Moonrise. Photography by Kate Berry

Flowers: Mini carnations Total price: $12 The story: Although the mention of carnations is often met with doubt from flower fans, Berry considers them floral underdogs waiting for their moment to shine. She opted for three shades split among different vases on a graphic yellow gingham tablecloth, paired with pink-striped napkins. An added bonus? The arrangements sit relatively low, allowing for reaching arms and rapid-fire chatter. Pro tip: “Mixing up the colors is a great way to add variety to your table when you have only one flower to choose from,” Berry advises.

Allow the Flowers to Take the Lead 

Napkins Block Shop; Candlesticks ABC Home; Glasses Nouvel. Photography by Kate Berry

Napkins Block Shop; Candlesticks ABC Home; Glasses Nouvel. Photography by Kate Berry

Flowers: White, yellow, and double-variegated tulips Total price: $21 The story: Sometimes you just stumble across something special. That was Berry’s experience when she eyed the ombré double-petal tulips, which looked far fancier than TJ’s normal offerings. “I was taken aback and immediately inspired,” says Berry. “There was only one bunch, but I had a wide-rimmed vase to fill, so I added a solid yellow and a solid white bunch of tulips to round out the palette.” She paired her single-flower centerpiece with a cobalt and marigold tablecloth, dotted gold napkins, and delicate blue china, to serve as accessories to the star of the show. Pro tip: Once you find your wow-moment blossoms, build your tablescape around the color scheme, not the other way around. 

See more flower stories: You Have to See These Wild, Colorful Flower Arrangements Drew Barrymore’s Latest Flower Home Collection Makes Organizing Easy This Wedding Married India, Pakistan, and Italy in One Floral Fantasia