How to Create a Wonderful Thanksgiving Place Setting
One of the joys of any season or holiday is inviting family and friends to your dinner table for a festive celebration. If you love entertaining like I do, you spend a lot of time deciding how you can dress up your dining table to impress your guests. Your turkey may be cooked to golden, juicy perfection. Your cranberry sauce may be a homemade, shimmering shade of burgundy, and your mashed potatoes, yams, and green beans add a delectable, aromatic rounding out of colors. Yet something is missing. That something may be just the right accent, added to create a warm, festive atmosphere. The following are some fun ideas that you can put together with little effort and expense to wow your guests and create the loveliest table of the season.
When creating the plan for your table, consider using a variety of colors, textures, sizes and shapes to create an interesting, provocative appeal that will have your guests talking and secretly planning to emulate your efforts at their next get-together.
Hurricane Candle Holders
If you have a clear glass hurricane candleholder and a large candle to place inside of it, you can find the perfect accents in your own backyard. Surround the base of the candle with a variety of colorful leaves. You can moisten them to reduce risk of igniting them, before placing them into the hurricane. This also helps to bring out the rich fall colors in the leaves. Other items such as pinecones, acorns and pine needles make great accents as well. For added fun, you might try setting your hurricane inside a crown of thorns or dried knotty vines.
You’ll need one pear for each place setting, metallic gold paint, gold elastic ribbon, and small (2x1) cardstock. Assure that each pear has a reasonably sized stem. Use metallic gold paint to totally cover each pear and allow to completely dry before handling. Meanwhile, punch hole in corner of each place card. Using calligraphy pen, thin paint pen, or other high quality pen, script the name of each guest on a place card and allow to dry. Lace a piece of gold elastic ribbon through each hole. When pears are dry, tie the place card holders around the stem of each pear and set atop a burgundy or hunter green napkin that has been placed over the dining plate at each seat.
Create Your Own Table Runner
If you have a plain colored table runner, preferably a beige or cream-colored runner, you can place fall color accents along the runner to create your own design. Scented potpourri makes a nice accent. So do pinecones, acorns, pine boughs, tropical repens protea, Chinese lanterns, dried leaves, chestnuts, crabapples, small clusters of grapes, eucalyptus leaves, gourds, small pumpkins, indian corn and more. Sewing gold or other fall colored sequins to the cloth will add a sparkly, festive touch to your table that is simply stunning when reflecting the glow of candle centerpieces.
Make Your Own Napkin Rings
You’ll need one plain wooden napkin ring for each place setting, a hot glue gun and small items for decorations such as seeds, nuts, berries, pine boughs, and dried floral leaves such as black-eyed Susan, rose petals, etc. Using hot glue, press your accents onto the napkin ring and allow to dry.
You might also try collecting an assortment of dried leaves of varying colors. If desired, find realistic looking dried leaves at your local craft store. Lay a few leaves on each folded napkin and tie into place with raffia. Add a stalk of eucalyptus, red berries on a long stem or long, clean turkey or other feathers under the raffia for added beauty and character.
You may also make jeweled napkin holders by purchasing rings and an assortment of beads at your local craft store and creating your own glittering designs. Using the same method, you can make your own wine glass charms. Each guest could receive a matching set of napkin ring and wine charm.
You can find very small ears of Indian corn at your local farm stores. Simply tie three ears of mini Indian corn together using raffia. Take a small (2x1 in.) heavy card stock card, script the name of each guest on their own card, and lace raffia through a small hole in the corner of the card. Lay the mini Indian corn decorations on top of each napkin that has been laid across the plate at each place setting.
Candles on your table create a warm, romantic glow, enabling you to keep your lighting low and your ambience festive. But candles in and of themselves, will be on everyone’s dining table. You may want to put a fresh spin on the use of candles that makes your table a little more creative. Depending upon the length of your dining table, you will need two to four potpourri burners. Remember that you are creating a culinary masterpiece in your kitchen and you don’t want to burn potpourri that is too strong or will conflict with the aroma of your cooking, so something subtle is recommended. Lavender is often subtle and universally enjoyed. I would suggest two smaller potpourri burners, one about 1/3 of the way from each end of the table. That will leave you room for a larger centerpiece in the middle. If you are planning on a floral centerpiece, consider using small sunflowers, pussy willows, milkweed pods, and ferns to create a lovely autumn bouquet.
Potpourri and also be used to create small bags that can be used as place settings. Select your favorite aroma (such as lavender) and scoop into a mesh bag that will allow the aroma to permeate it, but not to spill out. Tie the top of the mesh with a satin ribbon in complimentary color. You may use a small name plate, made from heavy card stock with each guests name scripted on theirs, and lay each potpourri bag on top of the napkin on their plates. For added flare and charm, add a small strand of dainty beads to each lace ribbon.
Soup Bowl Decorations
Your soup bowls can be used to house decorations that will be sure to dazzle your guests and create a unique appeal. Simply place one large pinecone or small pumpkin or gourde, one round candle and one glass ball ornament into your soup bowl. Light each candle just before calling your guests to the table. You may also add accents such as pine boughs, Chinese lanterns, acorns, rose or eucalyptus leaves for added color and appeal.
Using Baskets or Cones for Food or Decoration
Line small baskets with autumn colored fabric and use to serve bread or rolls. You may also fill small baskets with autumn colored potpourri, dried flowers, or other autumn plant life such as pinecones, eucalyptus leaves, pine boughs, Chinese lanterns, acorns, milkweed pods, pussy willows, crab apples, dried berries and other accents of your choosing.
Another unique twist on the traditional basket servers, is the use of French fry cones. Since they are often crafted from stainless steel or peuter, they would add a nice contemporary look to your table. Line each with a tornado of brown paper and fill with dinner rolls, break sticks, crudités or other finger foods.
Creative Napkin Designs
You can create an inexpensive, creative place setting for each guest by learning how to fold napkins into various shapes. Using richly colored napkins against more subtle tablecloths creates a lovely accent and your guests will appreciate your ingenuity and talent. Check out these links to create your own skillful napkin art.
Pumpkin Place Settings
If you have one small pumpkin for each guest, you can create adorable place settings. First, cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the guts. Scrape until sides are smooth and allow to dry. Place a small Styrofoam half moon in each pumpkin and insert a variety of stemmed items such as eucalyptus leaves, branches with red berries, Chinese Lanterns, thin pussy willows, and pine boughs into the Styrofoam so that it juts out of the opening to create a lovely dried decoration. You can use a larger pumpkin and the same technique to create a larger centerpiece if you desire.
Another possibility is to carve designs into your pumpkins (not jack-o-lantern faces) such as leaf designs or other abstract shapes, and use them as candle holders. Place votive candle into each dried, carved pumpkin and light just before seating your guests.
© 2010 Jaynie2000