Using a centerpiece on your table can be a fun and easy way to create a theme and set the mood for your party. It’s a finishing touch but so important. And there are so many different ways to create a centerpiece – there really are no rules – so we’ve collected a variety of different styles for summer that will hopefully inspire you to make one of your own.

Dana and I are going to put our individual creativity to the test and battle each other in an East Coast vs West Coast competition later this month. The challenge? Who can create the best summer-themed centerpiece for $10 or less. And we are going to ask you to vote to pick the winner. Be on the lookout for it…

1. A mixture of flowers and candles create a romantic setting and work well for brunches, garden parties and an afternoon with your girlfriends. You can play with the flower and candle combinations to create different looks and themes. For instance, dark red flowers (think: roses) with candles work well for an intimate dinner, whereas brighter, lighter colors (as in the example) are more feminine and fun.

2. Centerpieces can be made of just about anything. In this example pinwheels add a whimsical touch to what looks like a children’s party (or for the young at heart). This is perfect for summer and for an outdoor picnic or BBQ. And your guests can take one home as a party favor.

3. The floral arrangement, placed in a used fruit-juice can, is unexpected and both beautiful and understated at the same time. I picture a little kid gathering these flowers for his mom on the way home from school (obviously passing by some pretty nice gardens along the way).

4. A basket of fruit couldn’t be more simple, right? It’s summer, delicious fruit is in season, it makes sense to showcase fruit on your table. And this is an example of how you can create a centerpiece on a limited budget. If you are lucky enough to have the space to grow your own produce, all you have to do is grab a handful from your backyard and toss them in a large glass vase, a beautiful bowl or decorative plate or a nice basket.

5. The seashell and sand centerpiece may look a little random if you’re not utilizing that theme in other areas of your party. So you can fill up clear glass vases with sand and place large shells in different areas of your party to create a more festive look.

6. Similar to the concept in arrangement #3, this centerpiece is a contrast of elegant and simple. Dressing down the arrangement with the paper bag can make it more fitting for a casual party without sacrificing the beauty of the flowers.