Thanksgiving means different things to different people. It can be a day to celebrate a successful growing season and harvest, a day of prayer, a gathering to infuse hope and belief in the nation and the constitution, or to personally observe the past year and what you have to be grateful and thankful for in your life.
So you know why you’re celebrating, you’ve got your menu set, groceries bought, and liquor cabinet stocked, but what about the table?
After hours of preparing a deep golden brown tender turkey (along with a dozen of other tasty side dishes), to set everything down on a plain table is almost a let down. The table should be just as beautiful as the food that’s being presented on it.
I have a few ideas that will dress up your table, a way to share with your guests why you are thankful, as well as something to keep the kids busy.
For a rustic table setting, cut 1-2″ ‘cookies’ from a log with a chainsaw, to use as place mats or chargers. I lightly sanded and sealed mine, but you don’t need to if you don’t have the time.
Use silk leaves (in fall colors) from a craft store, and sprinkle them around the table. Or collect some fresh ones that morning if they are still around.
Tuck some dried grasses or corn husks inside a folded napkin (I used some plastic wheat sprigs I found at the craft store).
Mini pumpkins are a quick and easy way to create a personalized place card for each person.
Use our free download to create the ‘leaf’ you can write on and attach to each pumpkin stem (I used jute string, but raffia is another good tie to use to affix the leaf to the stem):
Another idea is to use silk leaves in fall colors, and write each persons name on it. You can place the leaf on the plate, or hot glue a thin wire to the back, and wrap around the stem of the wine glass or water goblet (guests write their name on their leaf, so it can also be used to identify everyone’s glass).
The ‘Thankful Tree’ Centerpiece
Start a new tradition by creating your own ‘Thankful Tree’. Take a walk outside and find an interesting branch from a fallen tree or shrub.
If you can’t find any, you can always buy some curly willow from a florist or at a craft store. If necessary, cut the branches to size, then fill a sturdy vase with rocks or sand, and secure the branch in place.
Create a leaf for every person at the table. You can cut them out of construction paper or card stock, or buy silk leaves from a craft store.
Using 24 gauge (thin) wire, hot glue the wire along the underside of the leaf, leaving at least 2 inches on the end to use as a stem (if you glue the wire almost to the tip, you can bend the leaf to look more realistic).
Place the leaf, along with a fine tipped permanent marker on top of each person’s place setting.
Before the meal begins, ask everyone to write on their leaf something they are thankful for this past year. Then have them carefully wrap the wire stem around one of the branches, creating the Thankful Tree.
If you save the leaves, you can add them to the tree for future Thanksgiving’s along with the new leaves that everyone writes up. After a few years you’ll have a beautiful centerpiece bursting with thoughtful sentiments of love.
Whether you have the kids seated at the ‘kids table’ or the ‘adult table’, make it fun and enjoyable for them (which actually benefits you, since you can eat and visit in peace).
Put some crayons and markers on the table, and print off some simple coloring or activity place mats to keep them busy. You could even make it a coloring contest and have prizes (for everyone of course!) to give out at the end of the meal.
Here are a few websites with some different printable place mats:http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/21292/thanksgiving-coloring-pages http://www.whateverdeedeewants.com/2011/11/give-thanks-free-printable-thanksgiving.html http://www.frugallifeproject.com/2010/11/free-printable-thanksgiving-placemat.html
Check out our tips on how to cook the perfect turkey!