Last year we celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents summer house on Cape Cod. Our kids were so excited to be at the beach for this holiday. We usually don’t visit in the colder months so this was something new. And since we were at the beach, we knew our Thanksgiving was going to be a fun, casual dinner. We didn’t want anything too fancy or formal. And that included the table setting. Thanksgiving tables can be so formal that it takes away from the warm inviting feel of the holiday. And a lot of times these place settings cost a small fortune. We wanted our Thanksgiving to have a more casual feel and since we were going to be at the beach, we were adding a slightly nautical twist.
Even though we may not be at the beach for Thanksgiving every year, I fell in love with the whimsical, nautical feel of our Thanksgiving table and could do this look every year! It was a bonus that it cost close to nothing to create too.
We started with a roll of brown kraft paper as our base and rolled a long piece from one end of the table to the other, allowing for a little to hang over the edges. We brightened it up by then laying a narrower roll of white drawing paper over the kraft. I originally wanted the white paper to have gold polka-dots on it but I couldn’t find this anywhere so I took a gold sharpie and drew my own dots on the white paper. I think this added a fun homemade look to the table and the gold made it a bit more chic. I like how the dots mimic the dots on the vase I got at Target!
We used the paper table coverings for a few reasons. 1) easy clean up. 2) It only cost $10 – with lots of paper to spare – and 3) we wanted our family to write on it!! We gave everyone a sharpie as part of their place setting so they could write what they’re thankful for right on the tablecloth. And they could also doodle too. We added some colored pencils to the centerpiece if anyone’s feeling extra creative! The guys were not so keen on this idea but we had fun with it.
I created these simple place cards, wrote the names of each person on the cards, cut 2 slits in them and inserted the sharpies. I included these place cards as a freebie for you all!
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Then we shopped the house for the centerpiece items. We didn’t put all the food on the table since there is always. so. much. food. So creating a busier centerpiece was ok. We gathered everything that was gold, white, cream and I also added a little orange because it’s fall and well, I love orange. We added some sea shells since we were at the Cape. I didn’t include any flowers or foliage but between the shells, the sticks and the gourds, I think we have the natural, organic elements covered.
A couple of other details we added were two paper napkins per person. I don’t like cloth napkins, plus clean up is easier with paper. We used our simple China plates and silver chargers I got from Michael’s. I loved the combination of gold and silver on this table – adding just the right amount of fancy. Gold plastic turkeys were a nice addition to each place setting. We found these turkeys at Michael’s too and spray painted them gold. I also spray painted some pinecones and acorns gold too. Gold spray paint can really transform any item!
After making my circles on the paper, which only took about 20 minutes, I just started placing all the elements together until it looked ok.
A few tips on arranging centerpieces:
– keep some consistency to the pieces you select such as color palette, theme or shape.
– vary the heights of the pieces, stack things up using cake stands or even books make good pedestals.
– vary the textures: feathers, sequins, seashells, sticks, fabric, netting, pinecones… can all work together if they have a common color palette.
– keep the pieces close to each other so they work as a unit. Adding an actual connecting element helps. For this it was the gold netting. You can also use ribbon, sticks, branches, etc.
– add a bit of the unexpected – I added the seafoam color of the gourd and place card, which gives the white, gold, orange and beige color palette a bit of a kick. Or use unexpected items like a jewelry box, a candy jar, or a mini chalkboard to achieve the same goal.
– trial & error – just keep moving things around until you like it.
So in addition to this table setting having a purpose, it is also very cheap, perfect for clean-up, and gravy spills won’t be a big deal! It had a great homemade look with a touch of nautical and chic. When you’re setting your table this Thanksgiving, think about what has meaning to your family. Shop your home and your yard too – you’ll be surprised what you can do with some candles, fabric, a variety of vases and natural items. And don’t forget the importance of the day – to be thankful. And writing or saying what we’re thankful for can be a fun activity especially when they get to write on the tablecloth! Enjoy!
Checkout this article in the November 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. If they say it’s ok to use wrapping paper as a Thanksgiving tablecloth well then it must be ok!