Thanksgiving 2012 – Celebrate Me Home

For the first time in as long as I can remember we won’t be hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year. I can’t even begin to tell you how deeply wounded I am about that. It is hands down my favorite holiday, and I always look forward to my loud, gregarious, hungry family and friends gathering under our roof. Sigh! 😩 I know I just need to put on my big girl bloomers and deal with it, but instead I find myself hitting the “repeat” button on my playlist for Kenny Loggins’ “Celebrate Me Home“.

For my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” class this semester, I created a decidedly contemporary Thanksgiving tablescape. I am a traditionalist all the way when it comes to Thanksgiving, but I wanted to demonstrate to my students that you CAN step outside of the box without completely thumbing your nose at tradition.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos by Sheri L. Grant.)

More often than not, the main table for our Thanksgiving celebration is set up in the family room. The windows face south so there’s plenty of natural light, the crackle of the fireplace adds ambience, and with two 6-ft. tables kissed lengthwise, we can comfortably seat 12. There’s just something about a long, Tuscan-style table that suggests a bounteous celebration.

As usual, full-length linens are used to cover the multitude of sin that is a folding table. I used a creamy, soft ivory to work with the ivory dishes. Burnished gold-tone acrylic chargers with a subtle braided edge from Hobby Lobby anchor each place setting.

Pumpkin-colored napkins from LinenTablecloth.com bring a burst of color to the table. The simple elongated fold allows the napkin to slightly drape off the side of the table to break up the expanse of ivory there. You may have noticed how the kind of bell shape and the pumpkin color of the napkin mimic that of the calla lilies used in the floral arrangements. This is one of those subtle details that, while not starkly apparent, plays on the subconscious to suggest harmony and flow.

I like to provide individual menus for Thanksgiving settings, even if we’re doing a buffet. It’s nice to let your guests know what to expect, and the menu card serves as a nice (and inexpensive!) memento of the day. Notice how the small embellishment on the menu not only provides a bit of color but mirrors the centerpiece theme.

“Why on earth would you use (faux) bamboo flatware at Thanksgiving,” you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you why on earth: because it looks good! Bamboo flatware isn’t just for Asian- or tropical-themed events. It is a year-round, all-occasion staple that adds contemporary flair. You will notice later how the dark color works with the rosewood stands upon which some of the florals are displayed, as well as the preserved curly willow in the arrangements. Using a dark color here also keeps the setting from becoming too vanilla and helps to balance the light and bright of the ivory and pumpkin colors.

Simple, stark stemware is used to keep patterns from getting out of control. The shape and sleek design of the stemware bowls is also congruent with that of the floral vessels.

One of my favorite mediums for decorating is glass. You can just do SO much with it. It becomes whatever color and takes on any shape within its confines that your imagination will allow it to. The round or globe shape of these clear glass bowls adds to the contemporary feel of the table. They are alternately placed upon rosewood stands for a staggered effect. A chunky ivory LED (for safety’s sake!) pillar candle is nestled among swirls of curly willow tips and pumpkin-hued calla lilies. (I used faux callas here for demonstration purposes, but fresh ones work beautifully for this arrangement! They’ll stay fresh for a bit if in a cool room, but you might otherwise want to give them a water stem that can be concealed beneath the willow.) While a more traditional bloom for Thanksgiving might be roses or mums, the calla lily is a breath of fresh air without sucking all the life out of tradition. While this curly willow is now pretty much petrified, you have to start with fresh to swirl it in the bowl without breaking it. It looks great fresh or rigid. One final thing to note with the centerpiece is how, like the stemware, the votive holders are similar to the shape of the vases.

Vivid color is shared at the lowest part of the table with these gorgeous mini pumpkins that are abundant this time of year. Using a mix of colors adds optic interest. Here I went with plain orange as well as cream-colored ones with orange & green stripes. The casual tumble of pumpkins between each arrangement acts as a “connector” and provides visual continuity for the long centerpiece.

I always like to create a foyer piece that contains some of the same elements as my dining table as a hint of what’s to come. Here bittersweet vine is loosely wrapped around the stems of about 40 calla lilies in a large oil rubbed bronze urn.

Find other ideas for Thanksgiving tablescapes on these posts:
Pheasants and Peacocks
Best Laid Plans
Wondrous Wheat
or on the “Autumn” page where you’ll find 10 autumn tablescapes!!!

This week, despite her own losses and inconvenience courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, Cuisine Kathleen is graciously hosting her 1st annual Thanksgiving Tablescape Challenge. So if you’re looking for more great ideas to decorate your Thanksgiving table…or you just want to see talent gone wild from tablescapers all around the world…scoot on over to Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” anytime after 6:00 p.m. CST on Wednesday. I’m also joining the Style Sisters for “Centerpiece Wednesday” and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” anytime after 9:00 a.m. CST on Thursday.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Blue & White 30th Birthday

No, silly…not my 30th birthday! We just hosted our 3rd and final child’s 30th birthday party this past Sunday. I’m putting this photo first because seeing 3 of them through to 30 deserves a celebratory drink…or two…or three! 🙂
(All photos by Sheri L. Grant. Click any image to enhance/enlarge it.)

The guest of honor requested Chinese food for her party, so cool….Asian cuisine and decor it is! As guests arrived they were invited to enjoy a virgin Mai Tai (with “fuel” provided on the side for those of us who like it leaded!!! ;-)) A mix of pineapple & orange juices splashed with cherry limeade made up the Mai Tais, and I threaded orange slices and maraschino cherries onto fun bamboo skewers from World Market to dress them up and add flavor. These beautiful cobalt blue champagne flutes from Dollar Tree were a perfect companion to our blue & white theme throughout. (Shopping at Dollar Tree and Deal$ – owned by the same parent company – is a smart way to really stretch your tablescaping dollars!) Ralph Lauren “Mandarin” plates are a decorative addition to the foyer table along with mums floating in Pier 1 white ceramic bowls.

One by one, the guests began to arrive. (My stepdaughter/the guest of honor, Robyn, is the one wearing the white sleeveless blouse.)

Because we have such a tiny dining room, we turned the family room into a casual chic Chinese restaurant in blue and white for the evening. I used white outdoor bistro chairs here, but if you can splurge on a bamboo Chiavari or Chippendale chair or even a wicker or seagrass chair…that would be beyond fabulous!!! Let your budget dictate what you use. Bamboo chairs are SO on my wish list!!!

After draping two 6-ft. oblong tables with white full-length linens to create a sumptuously long 12-foot Tuscan-style table, I created place settings using square rattan chargers from Tuesday Morning. I had my sister running all over Minnesota (the closest state to Missouri where there were more of them!) looking for enough of these for 12. Thanks, Barf! Fun monstera leaf placemats from Z Gallerie added depth and color. White square plates from the B. Smith collection (Bed Bath & Beyond) and beautiful rice bowls with a cutout for chopsticks from Old Time Pottery finish off the place setting. We kept the rice bowls on the plates as decor until just before guests were seated for dinner, at which time we moved them to the center of the table and placed the chopsticks alongside the flatware.

I never know who prefers what, so I included both Cambridge dark faux bamboo flatware (Home Goods and One King’s Lane) and stainless steel chopsticks I picked up from an Asian market in Overland Park, KS. The blue & white ceramic chopstick rests came from that same market for a very reasonable price. I bought the beautiful mother of pearl mosaic napkin rings at Old Time Pottery, but I have also seen them at Z Gallerie.

Cobalt blue goblets from Dollar Tree used for orange spice tea match the champagne flutes used for Mai Tais upon the guests’ arrival.

This large blue & white ceramic ginger jar from Home Goods served as the anchor for the extended centerpiece which also included two smaller ginger jars. All were set atop lacquered rosewood stands from Old Time Pottery to give them more prominence on the table.

To lend height, color, texture, and drama to the table, I used clear gooseneck fluted vases to hold oversized monstera leaves from Hobby Lobby that mimicked the placemats. By all means, if you have access to real monstera leaves, go for it with gusto!!! Fan palms or banana leaves would also look really cool!

I wanted the table to have an exotic Far East feel about it, so I added these cool white parrots from Z Gallerie to the mix. (To see another post with these parrots, click HERE for “Caribbean Queen”.) They looked right at home perched in the “shade” of the monstera leaves and pinkish mums.

My original idea was to hang white paper lanterns throughout the room, but the persistent pain of not one but two torn rotator cuffs put the brakes on that in a hurry. All that overhead work would have done me in for sure! So I opted to hang a few in the window (with hubby’s help!) and display more on top of the big, bulky television armoire. If you can’t move it out, decorate it!

It hit 95 degrees this day, so no one opted for hot tea after dinner. A good hostess is always prepared, though! The teapot is from Pier 1, and the little teacups are from World Market. I bought the trio of graduated size bamboo trays from a wholesaler years ago. They were stacked like this in storage, and I thought they would look cool (as well as add height) if I kept them that way.

Robyn’s favorite is chicken fried rice, so that had to be front and center on the buffet table set up in the dining room.

Appetizers included spring rolls, crab rangoon and lettuce wraps.

Another appetizer was skewered chunks of fresh pineapple and strawberries from Costco set on white miso spoons from Pier 1 and drizzled with honey. The spoons are displayed on bamboo trays purchased at Old Time Pottery.

Surely you do not think for a New York minute that I actually cooked all of this food? Ha! I leave Chinese food to the die-hard professionals who know their way around a wok! Oriental Express in Kansas City, MO, has some of the best Chinese food around, and the service always comes with a great smile from beautiful Jie (I hope I spelled that right!). Cooked to perfection every time for a very reasonable price, it’s worth the 25-minute drive from our house! Many, many thanks to everyone there for providing such a wonderful meal!!! (Full disclosure: The spring rolls and lettuce wraps were a last-minute addition from Costco.)

Oriental Express on Urbanspoon

The back buffet was simply decorated with another ginger jar on a rosewood stand flanked by two (faux) bonsai trees (TJ Maxx) and bowls (Hobby Lobby) of fresh floating mums.

After dinner, Ramon presented Robyn with her beautiful (and delicious!!!) cake from Patrick Snuffer Cakes (816-452-7590). He free-handed a cherry blossom branch in icing to go along with our Asian theme. (Do you see how Ramon is holding that cake…making it sag in the middle??? I’m going to have to give the little Mr. a good talkin’ to! :-))

After dinner and dessert, we played a fun (and slightly naughty!) fortune cookie game called “In Bed.” One of my silly former colleagues introduced me to this game about 20 years ago. Each person opens their cookie and reads their fortune aloud ending it with the words “in bed.” Try it sometime….as you can see from the expression on the guests’ faces, it’s hilarious!!!!!!!! 🙂 (Poor Mike was sweatin’ bullets reading that in front of my husband and me!)

The birthday girl and her beau, Mike, looking like the cats that ate the canary. They have a LOT of teeth, don’t they? The teeth just go on for miles, and miles, and miles, and miles….!!! 🙂
Happy 30th Birthday, Robyn!!!

More Asian-inspired tablescapes on this blog:
Mandarin Bling
Year of the Rabbit
Peaceful Peonies
Copper Zen
Mikasa ‘Daylight’ Giveaway
Mum’s the Word
Zen Garden

More posts using paper lanterns:
Under a Paper Moon
Easter Brunch

More posts on this site using cobalt blue:
Daffodillyicious
Peony Power
Surf & Turf Dinner
Brilliant Italian
Summer Blues & Greens

I am joining Susan over at Between Naps on the Porch for “Tablescape Thursday” anytime after 9:00 a.m. CDT. Join me, won’t you?

Bling Wedding – Lauren & Darren

Some may recall the horrendous Thanksgiving table construction disaster of 2011. I will never forget it. Ever. You’d think I had learned my lesson, but no-oooooo!!! My husband and I got up at the (pardon my French, ladies & gents) butt crack of dawn to create this table outdoors before the 100+° heat chased us back in. Ah! Great plan! Until…..I was so horrified this time that I couldn’t even take pictures of it. A sudden gust of wind swelled from out of nowhere, and…I think you can easily guess the rest! The sound was so deafening that…well…let’s just say I had to trash the shorts I was wearing! 😉

You’ve heard variations of the quote “God looks out for fools, drunks and old people”? As I would be defined as the trifecta where that’s concerned, I apparently received special dispensation on all 3 counts because, despite the 20-car pile-up look-alike on the table, nothing actually broke. Luckily, I had gotten quite a few shots off before the wind sneezed. I wasn’t going to take any further chances, though, and we promptly whisked everything back indoors. I reset the table and took the final shots in there. So if it looks like these photos were taken in 2 different places, it’s because they were!

Without further whining, here’s an all-white table that could be duplicated for a wedding reception or anniversary party. I dedicate it to my friend, Lauren, and her husband, Darren, who just celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary. So please sign the guest book, come on in, and have a seat at…where else?…Table 21!!!
(Click on any image to enhance/enlarge it!)

I love the look of an all-white wedding reception! It’s so clean and crisp and, well, wedding-y! 🙂 Lauren & Darren’s actual wedding colors 26 years ago were pink (or was that called “mauve” in the 80s?) and white, but this is what I would envision for their anniversary celebration if I could be there in ol’ St. Louis to do this for them.

White full-length linens are reminiscent of Lauren’s sweeping white gown in 1986. Silverplate chargers are the foundation for place settings created using my sister’s Noritake “Whitebrook” china.

I created menus that incorporate more “bling” via the wedding ring clip art and a teardrop-shaped faux gemstone brad at the top.

Estate silver from my personal collection accompanies Godinger “Chelsea” stemware with its diamond design (implied bling!) and starched white hemstitch napkins in a simple square fold atop each bread plate.

At the bride’s place setting, a trio of full-blown creamy white roses are nestled into a Baroque silver bouquet holder.

These teardrop pearl and rhinestone-studded frames hold place cards for each guest.

Lots and lots of flowers in shades of creamy white grace the center of the table. Besides the very prominent towers of cascading dendrobium orchids are six small rose and cymbidium orchid arrangements in 6″ glass goose neck vases and four all-rose arrangements in silver Revere bowls. Each rose has a rhinestone pin stuck in the center for a little extra bling. At two intervals, suites of 4 silver Revere candlesticks with 25″H white candles surround the smallest floral arrangements. Introducing the tall silver candlesticks breaks up the sea of glass at that level on the table created by the taller vases. Having 4 heights of floral arrangements creates drama at many different eye levels. (It’s 4 heights because the tower vases are a single 31″ in the center flanked by two 24″.)

These tall & graceful goose neck tower vases have enjoyed a long 30+ year run in the decorating world. It’s all about making the overall arrangement a little bit different to breathe new life into them. Here I used lots of green-tinged white dendrobium orchid stems. For this demonstration, the orchids are faux (just $1 each on sale at Hobby Lobby!!!), but a profusion of the real deal on a wedding table…heavenly!!! I used curly-Q ornament hangers to get the arrangement dripping with bling. Not satisfied to stop there, I visually (and literally!) strung together the tower vases using 6-ft. bling garland. Just hook the ends to the lip of each vase with the hangers! I bought all my bling at a wholesale place, but you can find something similar at places like Hobby Lobby or through your florist. Actually, the single teardrop bling for chandeliers can be purchased at places like Home Depot or Lowe’s in the lighting & fan department! If you’re really ambitious, string together your own unique combination of bling! (Hint based on my wind-blown experience: If you are planning an outdoor event, make sure that tall, top-heavy arrangements are either heavily weighted or have sufficient protection from wind gusts. Don’t try to fight Mother Nature…she always wins!)

So…did you follow the sort of theme going on here with the teardrop shape? In the menu card brads, the place card frames, the floral bling. It’s important to do that to instill continuity at the subconscious level of the brain where people kinda think, “I love it! It all just flows!” Well, yeah, it flows! It flows because you’re subtly repeating a theme. The same applies to the repeated elements down the center of the Tuscan-style table. It just…say it with me, everyone…flows!

Congratulations to Lauren & Darren! I wish you many more years of wedded bliss!

Other posts suited for weddings on this site:
“Purple & Pastel”
“Roses in October”
“Autumn White Wedding”
“Something Blue Bridal Luncheon”
“Peonies & Pearls”
“White Hot”
“Get Me to the Church On Time”
“Showered in Pink”
“Blushing Bridal Shower”
Rhapsody In Blue

I’m joining Cuisine Kathleen for “Let’s Dish!“, The Style Sisters for Centerpiece Wednesday, and Susan for her 200th edition of “Tablescape Thursday” this week! You can also find me at BeBetsy.com!

Summer Orange Tablescape

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the mid-summer heat and humidity doesn’t rob you of all your energy and drench you from head to toe, this saucy orange tablescape might work well for your next casual dinner party. As for me, I’m campin’ out in the big produce cooler at Costco! 😉
(Click on any image to enhance/enlarge it!)

If your outdoor tables are unsightly like ours (average Joe folding tables), just add a full-length linen to cover up the scene of the crime. It masks the ugly and adds a touch of class a la Carolyne Roehm! LinenTablecloth.com is a good place to start your search for linens that fully cover all sizes in white, ivory or black. (Their customer service re: returns/exchanges is not the best from my experience, so choose carefully!)

I skipped chargers this go round. Instead, each place is set with just an orange dinner plate with a meandering white floral design and a salad plate with a reversed color palette. These melamine plates from Target’s 2010 summer collection are just one of so many great patterns available these days at very affordable prices.

The sheer simplicity of Hampton Silversmiths’ “Patriot” flatware works well with so many settings!

Simple clear glass stemware from Old Time Pottery is both inexpensive and functional, and the austere design won’t clash with even the busiest dinnerware pattern.

There are so many great reasons to opt for a long Tuscan-style table for your entertaining needs. Many tend to think that round tables allow for conversation with more guests, but that’s not necessarily the case. If you measure the distance between 6 guests seated at a 72″ round table and compare it to that of 6 guests seated at an 72″ oblong, you’ll see what I mean! The decorating possibilities are extended, too, both literally and figuratively because you can create wonderfully lush centerpieces in the spirit of fabled King Arthur’s era!!!

I used a number of elements to fill out the center of this table. The central component that lends height and allows for candlelight at an elevated level is a pair of white metal hurricane lanterns from Z Gallerie. Flanking 2 sides of each lantern are pots of grass that add both color and texture to the tablescape. Note that the votive holders used are the same shape of the cylinder in the hurricane. Similarly shaped decorative pieces create a subtle sense of order and uniformity.

Whenever possible, I like to place multiple small floral arrangements across the table. Grouping some and leaving some as singles adds visual interest and forms a kind of “link” between elements down the entire length. Here clusters of inexpensive white alstroemeria are displayed in fun pear-shaped orange ceramic vases from Old Time Pottery.

When we dine in the yard, I like to create an outdoor lounge area for guests to chill out before and after the meal. Here I arranged our wrought iron set much as you would in a living room with silk pillows and a “sofa table” (actually just an ugly old 4′ folding table from the garage!) behind the settee. (Cushions are MIA due to a sudden hailstorm of bird poo that had to be vigorously scrubbed off! :-()

The sofa table is covered with a full-length white linen to better show off the orange accessories on top including an actual lamp brought out from our dining room. (Just run the cord to the nearest outdoor outlet! No outlet? Consider creating a cordless lamp using a shade on a glass vase with a battery-operated candle or uplight as seen HERE.) Use a “bug light” rather than a white bulb. It will not only ward off pesky insects, but the amber shade is very flattering and adds to the ambience! Cocktails – in this case, fuzzy navels made with peach schnapps, a splash of triple sec, and fresh-squeezed orange juice – are served from the table.

I’ll be really glad when I can fold up my tent and vacate the Costco produce cooler. Meanwhile, I hope you’re finding a way to stay cool and enjoy your outdoor entertaining!

Other summery tablescapes on this site using orange to jazz it up:
Orange You Glad You Came to Dinner?
Mandarin Bling
Oranges & Blossoms
Raining Orchids
Hot Tropical

I’m pleased to once again join Cuisine Kathleen for Let’s Dish! starting Wednesday anytime after 6:00 CDT and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” starting anytime after 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.