Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Celebrate the Beauty of Nature this Holiday
We’re not hosting Thanksgiving this year – a very unusual circumstance that we are enjoying immensely. Normally this week we would be planning the menu, buying the provisions, organizing party rentals and of course, COOKING. Since we’re not doing all those things, it gave me a little time to put together some of the tips I use to create a beautiful and natural Thanksgiving table that welcomes guests and makes them feel cozy and comfortable.
So here they are, 7 tips for creating a nature-lovers Thanksgiving table:
1. Start with a color theme. You don’t have to buy new china or linens for Thanksgiving. Think about what you already have, and build around it. If your dinnerware incorporates fall colors, great. But if it doesn’t, you can build a rich palette around blues, greens, or even purples! We’re lucky to have these plates we bought years ago at Pottery Barn, which feature colorful fall leaves, setting up a warm gold, rust and brown color scheme.
2. Create a unique centerpiece. Old wood boxes and drawers make great rustic holders for candles and decorations. We love the look of combining tall thin tapers with chunky pillar candles for visual interest. Remember to keep your centerpiece low so guests and see each other across the table. (This long drawer and several great old wood boxes perfect for centerpieces are available at http://vintageadirondack.com.)
3. Fall foliage brings nature indoors and it’s free! You can add texture and color with collected leaves, berries and pinecones. Celebrate nature’s autumn bounty by adding a few miniature pumpkins and gourds, and voila, your centerpiece is done without spending a fortune at the florist.
4. Mix old and new. Our dinnerware and glasses are fairly new, but we love nothing more than bringing out my mother-in-law’s gorgeous sterling silver from the 1940s for occasions like Thanksgiving. Elements with family history make your table more personal and give you great stories to tell over dinner!
5. Throw in a few surprises. Give your guests something a little unusual or interesting to look at and comment on. Our quirky vintage quail is a real conversation starter. (He is available here: http://www.http://vintageadirondack.com/product/vintage-quail-planter/)
6. Pine cones make great place card holders! Some may think place cards are passe, but we like them because they make the setting more personal and help you avoid the game of musical chairs when dinner’s ready.
7. No napkin rings? No problem. Tie your napkins with a bit of twine and stick in an herb sprig, colorful leaf or dried berries. It will complement your nature theme and the herbs add a welcoming aroma when your guests sit down.
But the best advice I can offer after over 25 years of cooking and serving Thanksgiving dinner for anywhere from 12 to 28 people, is to plan ahead, do everything you can in advance, and then let it go. Things happen. Dishes get over cooked, guests get into arguments, chairs break. One year my father’s chair fell over and he hit his head on the radiator, bleeding all over his handsome cashmere sweater. Another year something burned on the bottom of the oven, causing the smoke alarm to start shrieking. My husband ran to open the window to let the smoke out, which slammed down on his fingers. The guests were recruited into the kitchen to finish the meal preparation with me while he sat in a chair directing the operation and holding an ice pack on his hand. I think we ate at about 10 PM that year.
So relax and enjoy it! It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be from the heart. We wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!