Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nurture Your Family - Ideas For Setting Your Thanksgiving Table

Last year my Thanksgiving centerpiece was in a large rectangular wooden box with white hydrangeas, red fall leaves, sticks and white stock all placed in green floral foam.  The place-card holders are from Crate and Barrel, the china is Rosenthal, the glasses are Waterford and the napkins are Kim Seybert NYC. 

It wasn't until I started registering for my wedding that I discovered what a fun and creative project setting a holiday table can be. Most of use the same basics again and again (china, flatware and stemware) and then use accents and layering to change up our tables depending on the occasion. It is always a challenge to take the things I already have (i.e. vases, candle holders, bowls, votives, serving trays, knickknacks, etc.) and use them in different, inventive ways when setting my dinner table for special occasions.  To celebrate Thanksgiving, I'd like to share some inspiration for setting your holiday table.  The one thing all the tables have in common is that they use simple, natural materials combined with things you probably already have in your cupboards.  I always set my table the night before (including cutting and arranging all the flowers, which gives some of the blooms a chance to open) so that on the day of, all I have to worry about is the food!  If you are going to be a guest at a parent's home, offer to help your hostess by adding your own touch to the dinner table with some of these ideas - many of which can be accomplished by a trip to the grocery store.  What is your favorite table?

Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

This is one of my favorites, mainly because of its simplicity.  If you are like me, you haven't been crafting weeks in advance and didn't buy new dinnerware to fit a "Thanksgiving" theme.  Instead, I'm usually working on it a day or two before and all this requires is an inventory of my serving dishes/glass vases and a trip to the market. The natural vibe of this also speaks to the heart of what we are celebrating - all the wonderful things in our lives we have to be thankful for, including the luxury of eating delicious food.

Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Living
Another variation with kumquats, squash and an orange bell pepper.  The use of the white serving bowl really makes the orange pop.

Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

How simple and fresh is this? All that is required is a trip to Michael's or a floral supply store or maybe even your back yard (if you lives somewhere besides Southern California).You could also arrange these same elements in a simple vase for your entry hall or mantel.

Photography by Christopher Baker. Courtesy of Real Simple.
Even something as simple as scattering fall pumpkins, corn, squash with a few votives can have a big impact. It's the texture and color of the vegetables that really says Thanksgiving.

Photo by Laurey W. Glenn. Courtesy of Southern Living

This caught my eye because both the candlesticks (they were vintage glass) and pears (they are real!) were spray painted gold and I love the way they look arranged in a gravy boat. In this photo they used Metallic Gold Decorative Spray Paint by Valspar (available at Lowe's) for the apples and General Purpose Metallic Spray Paint in Gold Metallic by Krylon (available at Michael's) for the candlesticks.

Photography by Ray Kachatorian. Courtesy of  Country Living.

Using natural elements in your house decor to honor the holiday season is better than adding some more plastic chotskies to your already full garage. There is so much beauty in these simple fall leaves.

Courtesy of HGTV

Elevating the small pumpkins on the candlesticks and adding a couple pine cones to the mix is a great idea and I'd love to see these surrounding a beautiful floral centerpiece. The tiny pumpkins also make great place card holders.  Use craft paper to write your guests names, hole-punch them, and use brown twine (usually available at the supermarket) to tie the name cards around the pumpkin's stem.

Photography by Christopher Baker. Courtesy of Real Simple

I have silver and white formal china and the use of the white pumpkin on this table immediately caught my eye.  The green arrangement is fresh sage in a simple glass vase.

Photography by Tria Glovan. Courtesy of  Country Living

Last year I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time at our new home and I set out place-cards for both my grandmother and dad who had passed away the year before.  I hadn't planned on doing it, but as I started to write out my family's names, I realized that they were missing and I wanted them to be represented at our family celebration.  (I've also heard of people setting an extra place at the table for deceased family members on holidays).  The vintage photographs of family members on this table, interspersed with apples, walnuts and pears, really make it personal and would bring a warmth and history to the meal (and are a great conversation piece!).
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