So, there are a few things I'm ashamed of lately and I figured this was as good of a place as any to get them off my chest and come clean. One, after secretly watching every episode of Jersey Shore in it's first season and believing that it was part of the train wreck syndrome, I now have to confess that I actually just like it. I can't believe I do, but I do. Those darn kids, while utterly questionable in their decision making, really just seem like nice kids trying to have a bit of fun and make some money at the same time. Well, except for J-Wow. She's got some serious anger management issues and might just end up in jail. Okay, that's one. The other confession I have to make is that, in part because of my Jersey Shore obsession, I was really looking forward to watching the first episode of Dancing With the Stars this week. Mike "The Situation" was on it, Bristol Palin and the bozo otherwise known as David Hasselhoff were all sure to bring some entertainment value. And they did, I guess. But the highlight of the night is when one of the judges came up with a fabulous phrase that certainly applied to the night and to much of my life..."It's never too early to panic!". Hilarious and spot on.
I do have a point here, by the way. I had a reader contact me the other day who is having 36 people over for Thanksgiving dinner and while her husband is a chef, she asked if I could help her come up with some ideas for the decor and the tablescape. Now, some of you may balk at the idea of such early planning when you probably haven't even transitioned from summer to fall in your minds, but others of us like to go the slow and steady route so were not scurrying around the day before trying to create the perfect setting for our guests. So, a week before my planned Halloween and pumpkin decorating post, I'm happy to help out a fellow planner and show you some of my favorite Thanksgiving decor ideas. It's easy to take them and adapt them to any time of year, particularly just general Autumn decor.
Don't underestimate keeping things simple and clean. Depending on the time of day you'll be sitting down to eat, something like this could be so elegant with just the glow of candlelight running down the table.
Burlap is one of my favorite fabrics this time of year and at less than $3.00/yd you can afford to buy it in bulk. Of course it comes in the camel color we associate with burlap, as well as ivory, black and brown...but did you know it also comes in red and yesterday I just found a great burnt orange? You can see above on the left how they used it for both the napkins and the table cloth. By pulling the treads on the edges to give yourself a bit of "trim" and personalizing them with metallic pens, you can create a custom and personalized look. I also really like just using it as a runner and you can even diy it and make some chair covers.
Instead of putting people on the spot after sitting down for dinner and asking that everyone say what they're thankful for, why not write a bit of a favorite prayer, verse or even chapter of a book on each person's place card and then, in order, you can each go around the table reading your part. I also like to have a station near the front door with paper and pens and a sign asking that people write down what they're thankful for...it takes the stress off and allows people to be a bit more thoughtful. Then you can either tape them up on the wall or hang them around the fireplace where everyone can read them.
This "chandelier" is easy too make with a wreath and a bit of wire and chain which can be hung from a plant hanger above a buffet table or use multiple above the dining table. For the pumpkin candle holders, just use a melon baller to create a space large enough for a tealight. The pumpkins on the right are done the same way but use a knife and then just scoop out all the pulp. You can then insert floral foam or a glass or plastic container inside to put anything from snacks to fall foliage.
Nature is your friend. Just step outside and collect some leaves or branches and get creative.
This is still one of my favorites. It's charming and warm and you can really tell that most of it was handmade. By just wrapping pillar candles in felt and cutting out felt letters for the candles and the personalized place settings, you've got alot of look for little money. Take it a bit further and cut out leaves and even a runner.
Mix and match! This is the way to go if you want the table to feel collected and heirloom. Everything from the plates, bowls and chargers to the silverware and glassware should be lovingly different...staying in the same color range helps alot to keep it cohesive. Also, not the use of gourds simply stacked on stands and how the flowers are in what might be vintage ice buckets. Lovely.
Things don't have to be all earth tones and twigs. If your style is a bit more modern, feel free to use unexpected fabrics and colors. This white and black theme is crisp and clean and the painted white pumpkins remind you it's time to be thankful with a twist. Notice the small metal bird they've used...just look around the house and I bet you can find some great things to incorporate.
This was probably meant for a book club dinner, but I love how they used pages from books as placemats and the books as risers for things.
Pull out all those old black and white photos of your grandparents and great grand parents and use them in your tablescape and buffets. Not only are they conversation starters, but they're a reminder of what the day is all about...family.
Elegance in the evenings is as simple as candlelight.
Now this is my kind of Thanksgiving table. Take it outdoors!
Traditional, simple and easy to accomplish.
Pears. My favorite place card holder. Love the artichoke candle holders, too.
Don't forget to make the kids table fun and interactive! Love the maps on the table with the paper boats.
Food is a beautiful option to use as decor. And coffee beans are delicious looking when used as a base for candles on the desert table.
Craft paper, felt, nature, edible items, candles and found items around the house are really all you need to create a setting that will not only wow your guests but make them feel special and thankful to be a part of your day. Good luck!