I grew up working in my family’s Chinese restaurant, the “Hong Kong Cafe,” so I know Chinese takeout containers really well. For everyone who likes to serve Cantonese cuisine at home, here’s a festive floral arrangement in a takeout container that’s a “wok” in the park to make. I’ve made these for birthday presents, hostess gifts, and even centerpieces. The only problem with this arrangement is that half an hour after creating it, you’ll be hungry to make another one.
What you’ll need:
1 quart takeout container
1 pint plastic deli container
- Get a takeout container
The foundation for this arrangement is a 1-quart, or 32-ounce, takeout container. You can purchase takeout containers in different colors at crafts stores like Michaels or Joann, as well as packaging retailers like the Container Store. Stores even sell themed containers for the different holidays. The red fabric-covered takeout container I’m using here is from Pier One.
- Carve floral foam
Instead of sitting directly in the container, which would leak water, you’ll insert your flowers into floral foam inside a plastic deli container. (I recommend getting a pint of potato salad at the deli and washing out the tub afterwards.) Purchase a brick of floral foam at the crafts store, and carve it with a knife to fit in the deli container. Make sure you select floral foam that is made especially for fresh flowers rather than the kind for artificial flowers.
- Soak the foam
Immerse the floral foam in water for about a minute, so the foam will absorb the water. Put the wet foam into the plastic deli container, and then place both into the Chinese takeout container. You’re now ready to insert flowers into the foam.
- Select flowers
I find that the easiest way to choose flowers for this arrangement is to purchase a ready-made bouquet at Trader Joe’s (or any supermarket). This way, you can have an instant assortment of color-coordinated flowers, plus greenery, for less than $10. Cut the flowers’ stems so that they’re all about four inches long, then insert the stems into the wet floral foam.
- Fill container with flowers
Keep adding flowers until you’ve covered the entire top of the floral foam. Add the greenery that comes with the bouquet, or grab some from your yard, to help fill out any empty spots where the foam is visible. This photo shows the arrangement partially finished, so you can see how the stems look going into the foam.
- Finish with chopsticks
The finishing element that really makes the arrangement is a pair of chopsticks inserted amid the flowers, right into the floral foam. Go for a decorative pair of chopsticks, not the plain wooden ones you get with takeout. Gorgeous chopsticks are available at Cost Plus World Market as well as specialty stores in Chinatown or Little Tokyo. And when you’re done with the arrangement, treat yourself to a fortune cookie.