One of my favorite parts of teaching entertaining classes is showing people how to set and decorate the table. A lot of people are intimidated by it, but doesn’t have to be a difficult or expensive affair. With Thanksgiving later this week, I thought it’d be a good time to share a few of my favorite pointers:
Don’t worry so much about where things go, just be consistent. Not sure which direction the dessert fork goes? Just pick a side and stick with it. Undecided about napkin placement? You can go left, right, on top of the plate, under the plate, on the chair… just keep it the same for everyone.
Add a wild or foraged element to the table, even if you’re using store-bought flowers. A few sprigs of fragrant rosemary, some draped vines, or tree/bush clippings can make all the difference (plus they’re free!). For my Thanksgiving centerpiece, I used magnolia leaves because they cover a lot of space and don’t wilt quickly.
Utilize as many reusable elements as possible to reduce the cost and waste. If you don’t have vases, try mason jars or drinking glasses. Basic candlestick holders or pillars can be dressed up in many different ways. Whole fruits or vegetables are beautiful and don’t go to waste because they can be eaten later. This time of year, try apples, pie pumpkins, pomegranates, or acorn squashes (as pictured).
Cloth napkins feel special. Yes, even if you’re using the $0.79 IKEA dish towels like I do.
For my Thanksgiving place cards, I used dried “strawberry corn” with baker’s twine and kraft brown cardstock. I wrapped the corn with plastic wrap, then spray painted the husks gold for a little extra flare (that’s obviously optional). Multicolored “Indian corn” work just as well. A few quick cuts and hole punches are all it takes to make cute name tags; you could also use premade tags to save some time.
For the centerpiece, I used:
- about 6 small branches of magnolia leaves
- 6 brass candle sticks with white candles
- 3 small vases with magenta celosia flowers (1 bunch)
- an assortment of fruits and vegetables, including: pomegranates, pie pumpkins, and other winter squash
All of the fruits and vegetables went into our grocery budget since they’ll be eaten later, so the total cost was less $15 for the flowers, candles, and dried corn place cards. You can totally do this!
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!