How to Make a Floral Arrangement on a $20 Trader Joe's Budget

By Carolyn Stine February 4, 2019 

We get tips from a master floral designer on how to make a stellar floral arrangement on a budget.

Things that keep us up at night: The Haunting of Hill House, being within 500 feet of the Rockefeller Center tree the week before Christmas, and $80 flower arrangements. With the latter, we find that whenever we’re popping out to buy flowers for a gathering we’re hosting, these innocuous blooms consistently cost more than we want to spend, but we do it anyways. Every time. We’re always sorely tempted to pick up that “cheap” bouquet at the grocery store and make it work - but how?

Enter the flower guru, Annie Heath. She owns the boutique floral design company Ida Blooms, and is an expert at making incredibly beautiful floral arrangements on a budget. We sat down with her to talk all things floral design, and how we can hack that dinner party floral arrangement on a $20 budget at Trader Joe’s.


Let’s take a step back - so what is floral design all about?


I know floral design can seem intimidating, but it shouldn’t! Floral design is all about taking something beautiful, and sharing it with your guests. You don’t need to have a big budget, and you certainly don’t need to be an experienced florist.

Still, there are a few things you can do to take a floral arrangement from pretty to WOW. By including a variety of what we call “thrillers, fillers, and spillers” (more on this later on) into your floral arrangement, you can guide your guests’ eyes through the flowers and show off your floral design skills.


Why should we have flowers in our home when entertaining?


There’s something about flowers that really elevates any space. I think a beautiful floral arrangement can say a lot about the type of host you are, and the type of event you’re hosting! Flowers can act as a talking point for shy guests, and improve the atmosphere overall. And I don’t have any scientific evidence on this, but it seems to me that flowers make everyone happy.


What are your top hacks for buying flowers on a budget?


Flowers have a bad reputation for being expensive. While some flowers can get pricey, there are plenty budget-friendly stems! Try to buy things that are in season, it’s basic supply and demand. When farmers have an abundance of one type, the price will drop!

Also, don’t be deterred by so called “cheap” flowers. For example, over the years, carnations have developed a reputation as a very “meh” stem. But, when incorporated into a flower arrangement, they can be a beautiful filler! Lastly, the grocery store is a GREAT place to buy affordable flowers. Sure, they might not be the freshest, but they will definitely last a few days, and they sure are convenient!


Walk us through how to build a floral arrangement for our dinner party on a $20 budget at Trader Joe’s!


So, let’s start with what to buy. When you’re looking at flowers, every stem falls into one of three aforementioned categories: thrillers, fillers, or spillers.

Thrillers are what we call primary flowers. They’re the big ones, the wow factor in your flower arrangement, like peonies, dahlias, or roses. So first, find a sleeve of those. I went with sunflowers for $4.99.

Fillers are flowers that fill out space in your floral arrangement. They’re more budget-friendly stems and usually come in higher volume. Good examples of fillers are: wax flowers or daisies. For this bouquet, I bought a sleeve of mums for $3.99 and mini-carnations for $3.99.

Lastly, spillers are flowers or greenery that add height and drama to a floral arrangement, like gladiolus, eucalyptus baby blue, or amaranthus. For this project, I bought eucalyptus silver dollar for $2.99 and white stock for $3.99.

Here's How To Arrange Your Flowers

1. Once you bring your flowers home, it’s time to choose a vase. For table arrangements, I usually use something low and wide, so my guests can talk to each other without a huge floral arrangement blocking the way. Keep your mind open, because I bet you don’t have to buy a vase! I’ve designed in mason jars, tea cups, water pitchers, and french presses. I also frequent local thrift stores to check out vase selections. That’s where I got this one!

Floral arrangement on Trader Joe's Budget

2. Take a few minutes to prep, before you start arranging. Fill your vase with water, then use clear tape to create a grid across the mouth of your vase. The tape grid will help divide your vase into smaller areas, and keep stems in place while you arrange.

Create a flower arrangement on a Trader Joes budget

3. Next, process each of your flowers. To process a stem essentially means you edit it down to it’s most beautiful and useable form. So, remove all the leaves that will fall below the waterline of your vase, and any distracting greenery, buds or offshoots.

Create a flower arrangement on a Trader Joe's budget

4. Now, arrange! Spread three to five of your thriller flowers across the grid. Start adding your filler flowers at varying heights and directions. Lastly, work in your spillers.

Every flower should be seen. Height for table arrangements should not be taller than elbow to wrist. Don’t be afraid to try – flowers are naturally beautiful, you’re just enhancing them!

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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