This year, my family is embracing the idea of being home for the holidays. We are making the choice to remain hopeful, and positive and to never pass by a chance to celebrate the things that we are thankful for. With Thanksgiving next week, I wanted to share some tips and tricks with you so that you could create a beautiful holiday table at home for your family.
I have learned a few tricks over the years as a floral and event designer to decorate with items that you can source just about anywhere, even from your local grocery and hardware store, and of course our online shop! I am no stranger to trimming twigs and berries from the roadside to add to my centerpieces as that perfect missing piece, or rummaging through that back closet in my house full of random vases and candle holders. To me, it's not about using the perfect pieces, it's about creating a welcoming and natural look that reflects the season. There is always beauty in the imperfections.
So here we go, come along for the ride as I walk you through how to decorate a budget friendly Thanksgiving table.
I like to start with what I call the base layer. This is what sets the tone for your whole table. In this case, I used a farm table that my dad built, but draped it with a drop cloth from our local hardware store to create a neutral background for the other decor. Yes, you read that right, a drop cloth! You can get them in just about any size and weight. They are the perfect affordable table cloth. The one that I purchased was about 12x15 feet and cost roughly $29 at our local hardware store. I also realize many people might not have access to a hand-made farm table from their incredibly talented dad, so you can use any old table you have.
Next, we added a little texture with linen napkins and a cheesecloth runner. We purchased a large roll of the cheesecloth from cheesecloth.com from a wedding we did last year, and had a lot left over. You can easily omit this piece, or if you're celebrating with kids, you can use craft paper or un-waxed parchment paper as your table runner. Add a small bundle of crayons tied with twine at their place setting, and they will love getting to decorate the table during dinner!
Once you have your base layer, you get to start adding all of the fun elements. This is where I utilized the grocery store, and a thicket behind my shed full of snowberries for the majority of my tabletop decor. I purchased Bosc pears and rummaged through the squash bin to find some Blue Hubbard squash. I loved the soft shades of color and texture that they added to the table.
Since there aren't many flowers in season right now, and the grocery store looked pretty bare in the floral department, I decided to take my clippers to the backyard and see what I could find. In the pacific northwest, we have the most beautiful snowberries just about everywhere. I decided to keep my bouquets minimal, and tucked the berries into a set of bud vases from my online shop. A tip that I have for you when designing centerpieces is to not over think it. When you overthink them, that's when they don't look natural, and your attempt at perfection typically ends up looking like a big mess. Instead, try to think of how you see flowers in their natural habitat, usually untamed and effortlessly beautiful. When all else fails, grab a handful of flowers or twigs, and shove them into a vase. You will most likely be surprised at how beautiful it turns out!
Next it's time to move onto the candlelight and any additional greenery or branches you'd like to add to the table. I chose to use brass candlestick holders I have in my wedding inventory (which you will be able to purchase soon over on our online shop!) and beeswax taper candles. I carry these in my shop, but you can also typically find them at more natural grocers like Whole Foods and PCC. Another way to add warmth to the table is with tea light candles if you have some lying around the house. A tip is to use odd numbers when using candles, which tends to be more pleasing to the eye. Three or five candles is a great look!
I added some more texture to the table with small bundles of sage and rosemary which overwinter nicely in my yard. If you don't have any at home, you can purchase it in packs at the grocery store as well. I love the freshness this adds to the table, and the pop of green is a nice contrast.
Now this next step is where you can get fancy! But don't worry, it is actually pretty simple! I wanted to add a little bit more of a "wow" factor, so I decided to cut some big branches from a big Copper Beech tree we have in our yard. I have done many installations with these branches over the years, I just love it! Get creative with what you have around (google it to make sure it's ok to pick if you're unsure!) and see what a fun installation you can create. I chose to cut 3-4 ft. branches to attach to my ceiling rafters. I just draped them over the top and used some push pins to secure them where I could. If you don't have an easy place to attach these to the ceiling, you could always do a large bundle of branches in a vase on a buffet table in the background! I also took some small branches of the copper beech and draped it down the center of the table. It didn't take much, but it added a nice element.
One of my biggest goals when I am setting a table, whether it's for a holiday or for a wedding, is to make it feel warm and welcoming. I want people to feel like they can eat whatever, drink whatever, spill whatever and just have a relaxed time with their loved ones. This year, that might mean putting out a perfectly imperfect cheeseboard, or extra treats on the table for people to enjoy at their leisure. Eat the pie first if you'd like! Or stash a handful of salted honey caramels in your pocket for later. You do you! Enjoy yourself and make yourself at home.
Lastly, remember to enjoy yourself and soak in this slower paced holiday. We might not be able to gather the way we have in the past, but there is a great opportunity to truly embrace your own home and family, and to create some new memories. If you take anything away from this post, I hope it's that your table doesn't have to be perfect. Pour yourself a glass of wine, have fun trying out some new found decorating skills, give yourself a break and think about all that there is to be thankful for. I send you all of my love this Thanksgiving, and I am so very thankful for all of you!
Sources for our tabletop decor
Drop cloth - Local Hardware Store
Cheesecloth - cheesecloth.com
Napkins - Bloom San Juan
Bud Vases - Bloom San Juan
Candles - Bloom San Juan
Candle Holders - coming soon!
Cheeseboard - Bloom San Juan
Canape Knives - Bloom San Juan
Mustard Bowl - Bloom San Juan
Blush Cake/Pie plate - Bloom San Juan
Fruit and Squash - Local grocery store
Shop online at Bloom San Juan here.
Photography by La Vie Photography