Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thankful Table

I started writing this post, with all the negative, funny, cynical things that families and friends go through during the holiday know....the family dynamics come out in full force. There's the over-served, the under-served, the under-the-table, the competitive grandparents or deep rivalry between siblings.....But, this year I'd like to focus on the true meaning of thankfulness. Let's have a Happy Days Thanksgiving! Let's let the Cunninghams take over and have some good old fashioned "family fun". (My husband always teases me about always wanting family fun, like an old re-run on TV). Well, I'm certainly going to give it a shot, and at the very least, my table will be thankful (and our bellies).

There were a lot of beautiful ideas for Thanksgiving this year, (not like Halloween, yuck).  The merchandisers had great table settings this year and nice ideas for flowers, napkins, place cards and other decorations. I decided to take a mono-chromatic color scheme.

When we moved to Charlotte, I told myself I wasn't going to unpack all of my dishes, which is really killing me. I miss my china, and some of my special plates. But I did NOT cave. I am using my everyday, Heath plates, handed down from my mom. I love them and they are the perfect color for an earthy Thanksgiving setting.

To glam it up, I am using some bronze touches here and there. I have bronze/mercury votives that I will intersperse throughout the table.
I love using lots of votives.

I also love the idea of the huge hurricanes, brimming with lots of beautiful fillers, pomegranates, nuts, cranberries, kumquats, you name it.
"Is that you over there Aunt Louise???? I can't see you over the huge mound of fruit!!"

But who can see each other over these mountains???? Inevitably, someone ends up moving the hurricane, and then my heart starts palpitating. you know how long it took me to figure out which nut went in what place and where exactly to place the glass??? Just use the hurricanes for other areas. I usually keep it low on the table.

I also decided to use the extra pumpkins from Halloween, you know my mummy pumpkins....well I sort of mummified them, for real!!! I took my bronzing kit, and used the bronzer only, making them look like metal. This keeps my scheme really mono-chromatic.

I am also going to add a few pheasant feathers here and there also to tie into the "turkey" theme, and keep the colors neutral.

For the flowers, I usually use the same containers when I am entertaining a big crowd.

These "fish bowls" are so versatile, so I can change up the theme easily, from one occasion to another. They are also low, so as long as I keep the arrangements fairly small, we keep the line of sight from guest to guest (and also ensures that Uncle Todd isn't going to pick up my flowers and move them!!!) Because I am using a neutral palette for the decor, I decided to punch up the color in the flowers. Because the fish bowls are glass, I love filling the bottoms with something natural. In keeping with the holiday, I decided to fill them with cranberries.
I only filled one bag per bowl. When the container is filled with water, the berries will create a ring around the center.

(Pottery Barn actually has faux cranberry fillers, which will last time after time, but I just bought a few bags of the real deal. BEWARE, after a few days, they do start to "stink", so I usually take them out afterwards.) After I have place the cranberries inside, I tape a criss-cross on the top rim of the bowls, I suggest using floral tape, but I ran out so scotch tape it is. This makes the flowers stay in place easier.
Don't use scotch tape, really. It doesn't really work too well. Even with these arrangements I had a gooey mess on my hands. Invest in floral tape and clear rubber bands to hold bunches of flowers together.

I bought a bunch of greenery,  Hyperacum (berries) and Leucadendrum (who what??) I am not a floral expert, I usually just go off color and shape. I originally wanted to use some rich color hydrangea, but every body's out, so I bought some beautiful roses that will hopefully open up by Thursday. I use the 4 "quarters" of the bowl to place the flowers in groups, and then I am done.

I filled in some of the empty spots with extra berries.

Lastly, we need the name cards. You don't have to do name cards, but it makes it easier sometimes to get people to sit down. It also ensures that everyone is sitting by someone they know, and someone they may not know too well.

One idea I found that was a really nice touch, was setting a thank you card for each person's place setting. This goes along with the "really thanking people" on Thanksgiving theme. This can be easily done by buying a pack of thank-you notes, or by printing out something yourself. I sort of decided on a rustic, monochromatic color scheme, so I printed out names on brown craft paper, and combined it with a cream paper on the inside (content inside) to tie in the cream napkins.

I used a brown raffia ribbon to tie the two papers together. Then I tied the raffia to pine cones that I bronzed to keep with the color.
Quick, Easy, Free and Simple Elegance.
 You don't even have to go as far as bronzing and printing. I have bought cards in the past and stuck into a tiny pine cone from outside.

 So here's how our table will look this Thanksgiving.
I added some red porcelain pears at the last minute. I couldn't resist.

Tiff's Tip: If you can, set the table the night before. It really makes a huge difference in your stress level. If I leave this time consuming detail to the last minute, I am always frazzled.

Tiff's tip #2: I usually have drink markers avail so that everyone knows which glass is whose, but if you don't have any, use your childrens' silly bands. At least you'll get some use out of them!!!

Hey, let's not forget the little munchkins. They LOVE holidays, and doing things with mom to decorate the house. I made a more playful floral arrangement for the kids table (IF POSSIBLE ALWAYS HAVE A KIDS TABLE, I LOVE' EM  BUT LET'S HAVE SOME PEACE).

My daughter, the artist, and I made turkey place cards and we will fill them with candy or a mix of kids snacks. A little cheesy, but fun for the kids nonetheless.
We painted  egg carton sections brown, glued a yellow beak, red turkey "dingle-dangle"(I know there is a correct term for this but that's what we call it in our house!)  googly eyes and few feathers.

I printed out names onto craft paper and tore the paper instead of cutting for a more rustic edge. Then glued the paper to a toothpick. Insert in Turkey and it's eatin' time!

Rainbow Goldfish, now comes in natural coloring (thank goodness), and are a toddler staple.

So, that's it. There is no guarantee that we'll have the Cunningham Thanksgiving. But I am setting the foundation. I am truly thankful for all that we, beautiful and healthy children, wonderful parents and great family and friends.

And hopefully my table thanks me too.

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