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DIY Thanksgiving Tablescape

Create your own colorful, unique seasonal centerpiece

by Aldona Bird

 Thanksgiving quickly approaching is the perfect time to get out and take a walk or hike. Bring a basket to fill with leaves, seed pods and other natural materials on your way.

 This walk will serve two purposes — it will give you some time to meditate and enjoy nature before the hubbub of the holidays, and you can gather materials to use in creating a beautiful tablescape.

 Whether hosting Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, serving just your immediate family or even just yourself, a beautiful, unique table can elevate the experience, making the holiday even more special.

 While you can buy lots of items to use to decorate the dinner table, you can also use natural materials and items you probably already have around the house. Doing so can make your tablescape more DIY and unique and more environmentally friendly while also avoiding hectic shopping in busy stores.

 To make your tablescape, you will need items such as, but not limited to:

  • candles and candle holders
  • dishware and flatware napkins
  • tablecloth and/or runner
  • vases and flowers (dried or fresh)
  • natural materials such as seed pods, pine cones, leaves, branches
  • paint
  • small pumpkins, gourds, apples or other seasonal produce

While collecting materials, don’t skimp. You want to have plenty to work with. Fall leaves, dried magnolia pods, various nuts, pine cones and needles (green or brown), interesting twigs, dried tulip poplar flowers, other seed pods, rose hips, and dried flowers are all good materials.

Decide on your colors as you look through your materials. Remember that sets of threes are visually pleasing — three colors, three types of items, three groupings of items. On the other hand, remember this rule can be broken with success.

Start with a clean and clear table. Decide on your base. If you choose to cover your table, iron or steam your tablecloth. If you want to use a runner, consider using a scarf or a roll of paper (brown, or wrapping paper) if you don’t have a table runner.

You may choose to arrange your centerpiece first or work on the place settings first. Placing your centerpiece first can help you immediately set the tone, but place settings first can define the limitations of your available space.

 Consider an asymmetrical layout for your “centerpiece.” If placed it in the middle of the table, it may block diners’ conversation.

 Lay items which you want to use as the foundation (such as colorful leaves) out first. You can put them straight down the center of your table, in a meandering path or scattered across.

Add more materials to build up your tablescape, until you are satisfied with the results.

If you are using natural materials you can spray paint some pieces to add a pop of gold or any other color, or leave them natural.

During construction consider how you will be using your table for the event — will you be serving food from the dining table or a side table or counter? If you are serving from the table be sure to leave room for serving dishes — even place them while arranging your tablescape.

If you are serving from a side table or counter, consider creating an additional vignette with complementary materials on that surface as well.

Tablescapes can be created days in advance, giving you time to enjoy the process and the result, adding only joy and no worries to the day of celebration.

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