So over the years I have found creative "twists" to make them a bit more interesting. From students bringing in their own items so they "buy into" the project, to setting up visual puzzles like working on top of black and white striped paper (Like HERE). But the major "thing" that tends to become a problem is space and a lack of it. A still-life has to command a space, and should not be moved to avoid complaints about how it looks different over several viewings...
An interesting solution I have tried is to make tiny personal still-life sculptures. Each student gets a 4 x 4 inch piece of cardboard or foam-core and covers it with some decorative paper, then adds 5 objects I have set up in buffet-style bins. They have to add a tiny sixth object that has personal meaning. (I grade that as a homework and they have to say what it means.) It should be tiny and not valuable but hold some personal meaning. Here are some samples of our mini-sculptures:
Once familiar with their objects they did their final drawing on watercolor paper in light pencil and then in oil pastel. When complete they did either watercolor on top or black ink watered down. They were encouraged to choose their own point of view, but that the work should fill the page as best they could.
Daily, the mini-sculptures were kept in a copy paper box lid, and placed out each period for kids to retrieve and work. Students had individual pieces, and the work was all very unique with a personal element included. I think I will do it again. I loved not having to set up and take down a large display when other classes had to come through. It was a real sanity saver I will repeat.
This was for a mostly 9th grade class of general ed students. I think this same approach would work well for lower grades, and you might get better still life compositions from AP students.