Dress up Thanksgiving
Libby Langdon, expert commentator on HGTV’s “Small Space, Big Style” has come up with a few easy-to-do decoration ideas for sure to dress up any Thanksgiving celebration. Whether you are entertaining a large group or having a quiet dinner with your family, Langdon’s tips will help you add some panache and cheer to your home.
Place card ideas
• Pinecone place card holders:
Simply collect pinecones and place a single small card with each guest’s name on it at their place resting on a folded napkin. It’s so simple but still adds a special touch.
• Indian corn husk place cards:
Buy Indian corn cobs and just make sure the dried husks are still attached to the top of the cob. With a good black or dark green pen write each guest’s name on the husk. Place them on each place setting at the table.
• “Thankful” stone place cards and centerpiece:
Buy a bag of smooth creamy river rocks from your local garden center or home improvement store. Write each guest’s name with a black Sharpie™ pen on a stone and rest them on napkins at each place setting. Fill a large glass bowl or vase with the remaining river stones and place a glass of black Sharpie pens on a buffet. When guests arrive ask them to write what they are thankful for in one word on a stone (they can do as many as they like). Have the table set with a bamboo or cork runner (or any runner you have) down the center and set patches of moss on top of the runner. Ask guests to place their “Thankful stones” down the center of the tables in and around the moss and then complete the table setting by adding loads of little white votive candles in clear glass holders to create a warm glow. This is a fun idea because the stones double as place cards and it’s also a conversation starter that gets people talking at the table about what they are thankful for.
• Artichoke candles
Snip off a 1 1/2-inches of the top of a green or purple artichoke, trim the sharp pointed edges of the outer leaves and cut the base stem so the artichoke will sit on the table. Push open the leaves at the top with a fork and nestle in a votive candle with about three-fourths inch of the candle sticking out on top of the artichoke. Place several of them down the center of the table for a centerpiece or incorporate them with another centerpiece. The next day you can cook the artichokes so they don’t go to waste.
• Cinnamon stick candle
Take a low pillar candle and stick two rows of clear double stick tape around it. Then surround the candle with whole cinnamon sticks placed vertically side-by-side (The tape will keep them in place just long enough for you to secure them with a ribbon). Tie a rust orange satin ribbon around the candle to secure cinnamon sticks and nestle in a sprig of fresh rosemary at the knot of the ribbon. This fragrant candle is wonderful for your table but is also great on a side table in the living room or entryway. This also works well substituting small twigs instead of cinnamon sticks or even brightly colored fall leaves wrapped around the candle in place of the cinnamon sticks.
• Ribbon pillar candles
A fast way to dress up plain pillar candles is to wrap the candle first with a wide ribbon, about 3 inches wide. It can be solid satin or grosgrain ribbon or a plaid ribbon with rich fall colors. Then secure that wide ribbon with a narrow one-fourth inch ribbon and a single knot and nestle in a sprig of wheat or dried grass at the knot.
• White pumpkin centerpiece over a woven ribbon cloth cover
Place a table protector or mat on your dining table and set your tablecloth over it. Buy rolls of ribbon in various widths and in all different rich fall colors. Cut several long pieces of ribbon the same width and length of your tablecloth. Lay out the ribbons one at a time lengthwise and widthwise and spaced apart on the tablecloth about five to seven inches. You will basically be weaving the ribbons over and under each other until you have a large woven ribbon pattern that goes on top of your tablecloth. Secure the ribbons at the edge of the table by pushing straight pins (with the small colored heads), through the ribbon, through the tablecloth and into the table protector or mat. For the centerpiece, set out all white pumpkins and gourds in various sizes and weave in pepper berry vines between them and then place glass white votives in and around all the pumpkins. They will reflect a light, glowing white candlelight and be a wonderful contrast to the bright woven ribbon runner tablecloth.
• Fall feather swags and centerpiece
Group together magnolia leaves, pepper berries and pinecones; they can be wired together or you can simply arrange them together on the table in three places — one large grouping in the center and two smaller “swags” on either end. Once they are arranged on the table, insert some brown and tan feathers, long and medium lengths, into the groupings. You could also add in sprigs of dried wheat or sea grass. The feathers add texture and visual interest as well as a modern element. You can also use an eggplant-colored felt runner under the centerpiece and swags for an extra hit of contrasting color.
• Modern fall table bowls
This can be for those people doing an updated Thanksgiving; it’s a sleeker look but still adds some pizzazz and texture to your table. Just fill low glass or silver bowls with baby artichokes, acorns and polished stones (you can also use pinecones or moss). Intersperse natural vines between the bowls on the table and add lots of white votive candles. It’s full of great texture and the green adds color and life to the table.
• Quick and easy leaf garland
This is a great activity for children that gets them involved in the holiday décor. Send them out into the yard to gather lots of dried fall leaves that still have the stems on them. Have them attach the stems of the leaves to one-fourth-inch chocolate brown or dark green ribbon with small gold brass paper clips. Hang this simple fall garland over a mirror, fireplace or even attach it to a chandelier over the dining room table. Children love to admire their own handiwork and feel involved.
• White pumpkin vase
Cut a five- to six-inch opening in a medium-sized white pumpkin and scoop out the pulp from the inside. Place a small vase, plastic cup or tall quart Tupperware™ inside the pumpkin and fill with water. Then add bright colored lilies or flowers, fall leaves and twigs. The contrast of bright fall colors against a gleaming white pumpkin is really beautiful.
• Natural fall runner centerpieces
Buy a few long narrow trays that fit under a window box planter at your local garden store or home improvement store. Line the bottom of the trays with a layer of greenery or moss. Layer pomegranates, pears and pinecones on top of the greenery, then place pillar candles in varying heights between them. Garnish the rest of the tray with uncracked nuts, acorns and kumquats. Place them down the center of your table to add color and warm candlelight for your meal. Then they can later be re-used by setting them along the top of your fireplace mantle for instant yet dramatic décor.
Published in The Messenger on 11.14.07
Libby Langdon, Thanksgiving