Home Style: Set Thanksgiving table with found items
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Raise your hand if you've ever bitten off more than you can chew at Thanksgiving. I'm not talking about that second helping of pumpkin pie. I mean spending hours decorating your home, then cooking up the perfect Norman Rockwell feast for a house full of guests. Sometimes, we work so hard that the thing we're most thankful for at the end of the day is the chance to put up our poor aching feet.
I don't have any time-saving tips on the meal. But I can pass on a few pointers for creating a beautiful Thanksgiving table in minutes.
First, set your table so you'll know how much space you'll have for a centerpiece. Then start designing.
Stay centered. The queen of the "photo finish," I am often tossing together my table as my guests are walking in the door. One year, I grabbed a beautiful bowl from my china hutch and filled it with red pears I found in the fridge. The thrown-together display looked sensational -- simple, but lovely.
If you're going to be tight on time, go simple. Grab a garden urn, add some fall foliage and a handful of faux gourds, and you'll be good to go.
Place a row of different glass compotes, filled with fresh grapes, down the center of your table. Or take it up a notch, inserting pillar candles in the center of the compotes, then filling in the space with fruits or nuts -- anything from the produce aisle that looks lovely and your guests will enjoy nibbling.
Or, pick up a few inexpensive bouquets of roses or assorted fall flowers. Trim the stems very short. Arrange the flowers in compact bouquets in five to seven cordial glasses, again marching them down the table. Want something more rustic? Fill a beautiful vase with branches of faux foliage.
My decorating dynamo of choice is the cloche. Put any item under a cloche, and it goes from ho-hum to majestic.
Put a fall wreath on a cake plate, encircling a ceramic pitcher. Add a bold buffalo-check napkin and cloche-covered gourd to give white plates a distinctive Thanksgiving feel.
You can punch up each place setting. I sometimes substitute trays for placemats because I like how they unify elements. We started with a black tray and mixed up our dishes, using everyday white and holiday-themed green plates and amber glassware. We finished the look with brown linen napkins and a little gourd nestled in the soup bowl.
Or, juxtapose formal and informal items, basing place settings on a rustic wire tray. Top each with white stoneware and blue-and-white transferware plates. The orange pumpkin adds a kick of color.
Or start with a decorative chalkboard as a placemat. A crisp white napkin rests on the dishes and hangs down the side of the table. The show stealer is the gilded pumpkin sitting on a bed of straw under a cloche.
Cloches not your thing? Start with a wicker tray, then layer white dishes and holiday-themed plates. Top it off with a sorbet cup holding a gourd; you might tuck in a few fall leaves for fun.
First Published November 13, 2010 12:00 am