For the first time in as long as I can remember we won’t be hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year. I can’t even begin to tell you how deeply wounded I am about that. It is hands down my favorite holiday, and I always look forward to my loud, gregarious, hungry family and friends gathering under our roof. Sigh! I know I just need to put on my big girl bloomers and deal with it, but instead I find myself hitting the “repeat” button on my playlist for Kenny Loggins’ “Celebrate Me Home“.
For my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” class this semester, I created a decidedly contemporary Thanksgiving tablescape. I am a traditionalist all the way when it comes to Thanksgiving, but I wanted to demonstrate to my students that you CAN step outside of the box without completely thumbing your nose at tradition.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos by Sheri L. Grant.)
More often than not, the main table for our Thanksgiving celebration is set up in the family room. The windows face south so there’s plenty of natural light, the crackle of the fireplace adds ambience, and with two 6-ft. tables kissed lengthwise, we can comfortably seat 12. There’s just something about a long, Tuscan-style table that suggests a bounteous celebration.
As usual, full-length linens are used to cover the multitude of sin that is a folding table. I used a creamy, soft ivory to work with the ivory dishes. Burnished gold-tone acrylic chargers with a subtle braided edge from Hobby Lobby anchor each place setting.
Pumpkin-colored napkins from LinenTablecloth.com bring a burst of color to the table. The simple elongated fold allows the napkin to slightly drape off the side of the table to break up the expanse of ivory there. You may have noticed how the kind of bell shape and the pumpkin color of the napkin mimic that of the calla lilies used in the floral arrangements. This is one of those subtle details that, while not starkly apparent, plays on the subconscious to suggest harmony and flow.
I like to provide individual menus for Thanksgiving settings, even if we’re doing a buffet. It’s nice to let your guests know what to expect, and the menu card serves as a nice (and inexpensive!) memento of the day. Notice how the small embellishment on the menu not only provides a bit of color but mirrors the centerpiece theme.
“Why on earth would you use (faux) bamboo flatware at Thanksgiving,” you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you why on earth: because it looks good! Bamboo flatware isn’t just for Asian- or tropical-themed events. It is a year-round, all-occasion staple that adds contemporary flair. You will notice later how the dark color works with the rosewood stands upon which some of the florals are displayed, as well as the preserved curly willow in the arrangements. Using a dark color here also keeps the setting from becoming too vanilla and helps to balance the light and bright of the ivory and pumpkin colors.
One of my favorite mediums for decorating is glass. You can just do SO much with it. It becomes whatever color and takes on any shape within its confines that your imagination will allow it to. The round or globe shape of these clear glass bowls adds to the contemporary feel of the table. They are alternately placed upon rosewood stands for a staggered effect. A chunky ivory LED (for safety’s sake!) pillar candle is nestled among swirls of curly willow tips and pumpkin-hued calla lilies. (I used faux callas here for demonstration purposes, but fresh ones work beautifully for this arrangement! They’ll stay fresh for a bit if in a cool room, but you might otherwise want to give them a water stem that can be concealed beneath the willow.) While a more traditional bloom for Thanksgiving might be roses or mums, the calla lily is a breath of fresh air without sucking all the life out of tradition. While this curly willow is now pretty much petrified, you have to start with fresh to swirl it in the bowl without breaking it. It looks great fresh or rigid. One final thing to note with the centerpiece is how, like the stemware, the votive holders are similar to the shape of the vases.
Vivid color is shared at the lowest part of the table with these gorgeous mini pumpkins that are abundant this time of year. Using a mix of colors adds optic interest. Here I went with plain orange as well as cream-colored ones with orange & green stripes. The casual tumble of pumpkins between each arrangement acts as a “connector” and provides visual continuity for the long centerpiece.
I always like to create a foyer piece that contains some of the same elements as my dining table as a hint of what’s to come. Here bittersweet vine is loosely wrapped around the stems of about 40 calla lilies in a large oil rubbed bronze urn.
This week, despite her own losses and inconvenience courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, Cuisine Kathleen is graciously hosting her 1st annual Thanksgiving Tablescape Challenge. So if you’re looking for more great ideas to decorate your Thanksgiving table…or you just want to see talent gone wild from tablescapers all around the world…scoot on over to Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” anytime after 6:00 p.m. CST on Wednesday. I’m also joining the Style Sisters for “Centerpiece Wednesday” and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” anytime after 9:00 a.m. CST on Thursday.