The idea of the cornucopia, Latin for “horn of plenty,” derived from the ancient Greek and Roman gods through a variety of myths and depictions of gods and goddesses such as Fortuna, Demeter, Amalthea and Hercules holding overflowing cornucopias as a symbol of prosperity and spiritual abundance.
However, the cornucopia is more commonly associated with settlers in the New World and the first Thanksgiving feast. Today in the U.S. the common cornucopia is a hollow, horn-shaped wicker basket filled with a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains—overflowing to symbolize a bountiful harvest. Cornucopias are common centerpieces for festive Thanksgiving dinner tables, and the focus of a number of childrens’ holiday crafts.
Create a gorgeous cornucopia as the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table this year with these simple steps.
How to make a Thanksgiving cornucopia
Start with a simple wicker cornucopia basket, available at your local craft supply store. Aim to find one that is at least five inches tall at the mouth, so that you’ll have plenty of room to fill it with a variety of festive goodies.
Gather the following:
A large serving tray or cookie sheet
An assortment of colorful fall leaves
Raffia or straw
Assorted fresh gourds, fruits, vegetables, and nuts
Optional: ribbon, flowers, stems of wheat or other grains
Line your serving tray with burlap, and create small folds or bundles so that the surface remains flat, but slightly uneven. Tuck corners under the tray, and allow loose edges to fall naturally. Sprinkle a layer of fall leaves on top of the burlap to complete your base.
Place your wicker basket flat side down on top of the burlap and leaves.
Use a handful of straw or raffia to stuff the wicker basket no more than an inch high, creating a soft bed for your fruits and vegetables.
Start to place the largest items into the basket first, such as gourds and flower or grain stems, with the flowers and grains facing outward. Add smaller fruits and vegetables to the outer rim, allowing looser items like grapes and nuts to overflow out of the mouth.
Continue to tuck in fruits and vegetables until the cornucopia is full, and use any remaining nuts or leaves to fill empty spaces or holes between the produce.
As a last finishing touch, tie a bow around the pointed end of the cornucopia to add a splash of color.
Tip: Since fruits and vegetables will spoil, make your cornucopia as close to Thanksgiving Day as possible to ensure the freshest display and most vibrant colors.
Create an edible cornucopia basket
For an edible version of this lovely centerpiece, create a cornucopia out of bread and stuffed with fresh vegetables by using this step-by-step recipe and guide.