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If You Set It … They Will Come (to Thanksgiving Dinner)

As the More is More Mom, I am all about … more beautiful Thanksgiving tablescapes! Who doesn’t love a holiday that is totally devoted to eating? The only way to make it even better is to set an equally decadent table to enjoy the experience; good food, good wine, good company, and good times.

Last month, I was the featured speaker at a meeting of the International Furnishings and Design Association at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. I was thrilled to share my passion for entertaining, while I demonstrated my philosophies about how to set over the top buffets and tablescapes for the holidays. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to show you some interesting ways in which to make your table a little more enchanting.

While Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, I was inspired by more of an elegant woodland theme. Layering gives your table a luscious feeling. I like to pile on the linens (Bed, Bath & Beyond thanks me …)! A tablecloth is the perfect foundation, setting the tone from the get go. If you have a round table, there is nothing more sophisticated than a tablecloth that touches the ground. It’s so grand! Don’t have one? It’s as simple as renting one from a party rental store. Here I selected a chocolate brown because it’s neutral, it coordinates with everything, it shows a little imagination and the dark color hides a multitude of sins (think gravy).  

A table topper is a must because it adds some personality. I love to use throw blankets as toppers. Some are washable and others are simply beautiful works of art. I had to have this gorgeous, nubby gingerbread, eggplant, terra-cotta, and sage throw. Customarily, my next layer would be a traditional placemat. I like the idea of delineating everyone’s personal space. To make my woodland theme more authentic, I chose to incorporate berry wreaths as placemats. Talk about interest and dimension! The hues in the berries compliment the weave in the throw beautifully.  

Formal tablesettings definitely require a charger. In order to keep up with all of the other textures, I selected brown leather chargers rather than a gold leaf. It felt more rustic. I do not happen to own a set of formal china because I prefer the option to mix and match my dishes to create more interesting designs. I am head over heals for my gold buffet plates from Pottery Barn. Their rustic nature blends beautifully with my woodland theme. They are actually very practical and I’ve had them forever. They are perfect for just about every occasion other than Valentine’s Day. How about that for versatile? Whether I need it or not, I always set my table with a decorative salad plate. It’s an opportunity to tie your whole tablescape together. Here I am using my pear plates with an apple green and gold leaf edge. To coordinate with the pear plates, it would be a great idea to place a real pear at each place setting, with a place card tied to the stem of the pear with raffia. Seating arrangements are a way to control chaos (or just an excuse for an additional layer on your table).

I love proper cloth napkins at a formal table. They just scream special occasion. Here I used a golden, textural woven, simply slid through a copper ring. As an alternative to breaking out (and polishing) the good silver, I have selected flatware with a honed, pearl handle as an additional compliment. Rather than use a standard clear glass, I placed an amber glass footed goblet at each place setting. The amber offers a lovely warm glow.

Every table needs a centerpiece. I know that this one is over the top, and it should be. When a guest comes to an event in my home, my intention is for them to be swept up by the magic. Green is my favorite neutral, which is why I was completely drawn to this fabulous urn. For height, I filled the urn with willow branches. They have an elegant, wispy quality. To reinforce my woodland theme, I selected evergreen branches with pines cones. The hydrangeas in purple, gold and red add a pop of color nestled in at the base. Now I do recognize that this arrangement is too tall to keep on the table during dinner (unless there are relatives on the other side that you would just as soon not see), so when it’s time to eat, whisk it off the table and set it aside. That might sound like extra work, but I’m not about simple, I’m about meaningful …

It’s time for the finishing touches. Turkeys and pumpkins are so predictable. I prefer to feature more elegant pheasants during the fall and winter seasons. I have three gold gilt birds scattered around the table. What a treat it is to dine by candlelight. I have chosen leather candlesticks, in varying heights with taper candles. To capture the candlelit sparkle, I have also included mirrored candlesticks with pillar candles.

Pop in the turkey and all the fixings, light the candles, turn up the music, and enjoy dinner with your family and friends.

More extravagance, more beauty, more breaking bread, more gratitude …