Thanksgiving with Angus Anderson workshop raises funds for the United Way

Well known at York University for his work in event planning, but few people know of Angus Anderson’s artistry when it comes to floral arrangements and event décor. Anderson, who is the coordinator of special events in the Office of the President, is the creator of many of the stunning floral displays that grace special events on campus.

On Tuesday, Oct. 8, 37 staff members donated $12 to the United Way for an opportunity to participate in “Thanksgiving with Angus Anderson”, a workshop devoted to harvest décor. In total, the small event raised $331.50 for next month’s United Way campaign.

Over their lunch hour, the staff learned how to set a simple, elegant Thanksgiving table and watched as Anderson transformed a pumpkin into a stunning centrepiece. Also on display were a variety of arrangements and table settings.

They enjoyed a cup of savoury pumpkin soup and a fresh roll donated by The Underground restaurant and finished their lunch with  decorated sugar cookies that were donated by Daniel & Daniel, a Toronto-based caterer.

Two floral arrangements created by Anderson were raffled as door prizes. The lucky winners were Lisa Gleva, director, principal gifts & university development, Advancement Division, and Kathy Thomas, executive assistant to the dean, Faculty of Health.

Angus Anderson’s  Simple Pumpkin Floral Arrangement


Three or four dollar store assorted dollar store floral picks, sprays or stems in harvest colours (one pick should have autumn leaves)
Small red apple, washed and polished
A selection of mini pumpkins and gourds
A small or medium pumpkin
A small or medium potted flower (Mum or daisy)
A coat hanger
Plastic bag or tin foil for lining the bottom of the pumpkin (optional)


Hollow out the pumpkin (reserve the seeds and flesh for soup)
Line the bottom of the pumpkin cavity with a small circle of plastic or tin foil (optional)
Insert the Oasis floral foam into the pumpkin cavity
Remove the flower from its pot and insert into the pumpkin cavity, push down into the Oasis foam
Using pliers, deconstruct the floral picks, sprays and stems and sort
Using pliers, cut the coat hanger into three or four lengths (15 centimetres long, which is equal to approx. six inches)
Insert the coat hanger lengths into the base of the apple and the mini pumpkins and gourds
Then, at the base of the flower, insert the deconstructed picks, sprays and stems, the apple and mini pumpkins and gourds
Water the arrangement
Anderson says it should keep for seven to 10 days.

(The extra mini pumpkins can be hollowed out and are ideal for nesting votive candles.)


The Underground’s Savoury Pumpkin Soup


2 medium pumpkins
Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
8 carrots, sliced
4 quarts of vegetarian stock
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon each of allspice and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 heads of celery, chopped
2 bay leaves


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut and hollow pumpkins and then cut into chunks. Leave the skin on and toss in half of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet or in a shallow casserole dish. Roast until soft, (about 35 minutes).

While the pumpkin is roasting, finely chop the carrots, onions and celery, and sauté in the remaining olive oil until translucent.

Remove pumpkin from the oven and peel off the skin. Add the pumpkin to the sauté along with the bay leaves. Stir well to coat the pumpkin and vegetables with the spices. Add the vegetarian stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Stirring every so often.

Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Using a hand blender, blend all ingredients and adjust seasoning and spices to taste.