Monday, November 7, 2011

Turkey Day Table Talk

The feasting and festivities of Thanksgiving are a week away and even though I know you have talked turkey, have you talked table? As you thumb through the pages of your heirloom cookbooks and seek out the newest recipes from Alton and Emeril, dedicate some of your time to the design of your dining room table. Creating the perfect place setting is key to a well-remembered dinner party as we all know we feast first with our eyes! Our suggestions below will not only entertain but engage your guests at this year's Thanksgiving Day table.

Table Linen- Do you really need one? If your table is a modern glass top or a sumptuous hardwood, you may not require linen. If you are however working with a hand me down dining room set, covered with few water rings and pizza grease stains, let your linen lead the way. Table coverings can be inviting and inexpensive! Better Homes & Gardens has a lovely cost-effective line of linens offered at Wal-mart Stores for under $10.00 a cloth! The Hera of Holidays, Ms. Martha Stewart has her own bevy of brocades and damasks available at K-mart and Macy's for reasonable prices as well. Before you begin looking for linen, be sure you have your table measurements in hand. The same goes if you would like to make your table covering. Stop by the local fabric shop and pick up a few yards of rustic burlap or ecru canvas for a fast cover-up. You may even want to bolster your table in brown butcher's paper. Give your dinner guests colored pens and they can write what they are thankful for this year on the covering. You will be grateful for all the sincere sentiments and the ease of clean-up.

Napkins- Want to really make an impact? Napkin folds! Simple and solid to over-the-top origami, napkin folds can be found all over the web. The secret to making a beautifully folded napkin is your napkin needs to be steamed and starched. This will give it a "back-bone" and aid in keeping its shape. If fanciful folds are out of your league, fret not! This is when the napkin ring is king! Thick gold, orange or brown floral wire twisted and turned in your own circular creation works wonders. No, it's not 1993, but scrunchies with a delicate gold button or small crystal embellishment glued to them will keep your napkin and your crimped pony-tail in place!

Chargers- These over-sized glammy plates are a wise investment for the frequent hostess. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the charger concept, they are large decorative plates placed under your actual dinner plate. Charger plate etiquette and use varies among caterers and restaurants. Chargers can be removed as soon as the guests are seated or after the salad course or entree course are taken away. Since the plates are not actually used to serve food on, we leave the charger removal at your own personal discretion. Creative chargers come in hand-blown glass, rattan, wood, steel, etc. Melamine and plastic are practical and durable options for a charger. They are not dishwasher safe but can be easily wiped down after the big feast with a damp rag and a dose of elbow grease. Melamine or plastic will also be the most cost efficient option- a huge impact for the slightest charge.

Centerpieces- I like the old adage low and long for holiday and formal gatherings. Since Thanksgiving dinners are usually a time for catching up and conversing with your closet family and friends, you don't want your centerpieces to block your line of vision with your dear ones. Varying sizes of pillar candles with apples and leaves intertwined down the middle of the table will give you a clean and classic look. Gold-painted twigs, branches and acorns add some shimmer and shine to your Turkey time. Trust your family florist to design something elegant and traditional using autumnal colored Chrysanthemums, berries and wheat stalks. You may want to forgo the centerpiece all together and let your food be the focus of your fete.

Place Card Holders- Put them in their place! The best way to personalize a table and make your guests feel a part of the gathering is place cards. These cleverly crafted cards are fashionable and functional. Please consider these "gourd-eous" place card holders we have pictured here. All we did was take a mini pumpkin (this one is actually plastic so I can use them for years to come but the real thing is preferred) and very carefully, slit the stem deep enough to hold a place card. The same concept could be applied to a small piece of Indian corn, a Bosc pear or even a pinecone. A freshly fallen leaf with your guest's name written in gold or silver paint pen is a pleasing place card as well.

Hopefully, these tableside tips will guide you in creating a marvelous and memorable holiday for all. We wish you and your families a delightfully decadent Thanksgiving and are grateful to have your love and support throughout the years!