This year's Thanksgiving was at first going to be quite a large group, then it shrunk to only 10. I haven't had a group that small since....hmmm, maybe 30 years? So to comfort myself, I decided treat the table to a sumptuous setting, using my best decor and dishes that I only have under a dozen. I would set my china plates on gold chargers and use freshly pressed cloth napkins and crystal goblets. But then plans got rearranged, and we are actually going to my brother's house. He has a big, beautiful home but no supplies. With our group having grown to 18, he didn't even have enough silverware for that many, nor plates, glasses or coffee cups. Soooo, I yielded to paper plates and plastic cups! And I didn't even whine. I was actually thrilled that our families could be together, along with an assortment of other unrelated loved ones, and if that meant paper plates, then so be it.
BUT...I will still have a pretty table!
And here is how I will decorate...for free!
1. Bring the outdoors in - Enlist the kids to be hunter/gatherers. Send them outside on an adventure, which keeps them busy and out of the kitchen plus gives them some fresh air and exercise. Or, if you're the one who needs a break from the kitchen (or the relatives!), grab a jacket and a bag and go yourself! Gather beautiful leaves in as many colors as you can find. Pick up lichen-covered branches, twigs, acorns, pinecones, berries and interesting grasses. Use fruit from your own fruit bowl---apples, oranges, grapes. If you have time, run to the grocery store and pick up a couple mini pumpkins...you can get a few for a dollar. Clip the last of the hydrangeas, usually a beautiful burgundy this time of year, and some green laurel branches, if you have those plants in your yard.
|This is nothing more than a pedestal cake plate|
loaded with apples, pears, berries and leaves
|Leaves, fresh fruit and fall flowers|
2. Dig out your candles - If you can light it, use it! The more sparkle and glow on your table, the more festive it will look. Also, candlelight hides sharp angles and imperfections!
|This was a plain glass votive holder and I simply glued leaves|
to the sides, which washed off easily when fall was over
|I placed a little pumpkin on my candlestick|
instead of a candle and then put the leaf
votives around the larger pieces.
3. Find a tablecloth, runner or even a square of fabric - Fabric dresses a table likes clothes dress a person. If you don't have a nice tablecloth or one large enough for your expanded table, use a piece of fabric for the center of the table and place your arrangement there on top of it for the centerpiece.
4. Mix and match - So you don't have enough of the same plates and glasses? That's okay, just mix them artfully. Scatter them around the table equally...a white plate, a blue plate, a white plate, a blue plate / stemmed glass, short glass, stemmed glass, short glass, so that even though everything might not be the same, there is still a pattern. If you're using paper plates, dress them up with pretty fall paper napkins!
|Here are our paper plates! See, they don't look too bad, do they?|
|This is not my table, but it shows how pretty your table|
can look even if your dishes don't match
5. Make name tags - Nothing says "welcome" like a little tag with your name on it! Name tags convey the message that each guest was thought of and expected. It also helps tremendously when all the food is hot and ready and it's time to sit down.
|No fancy chargers to place beneath your plates?|
Use an oversize leaf!
|This is right off Pinterest, but I think it's pretty cute!|
6. Set a kids' table - I know I really loved to sit with my cousins and siblings rather than the boring (and watchful) adults. This will also give you more nice dishes to use on your main table.
|I thought this was a great idea! Everything is disposable, |
but it's still bright and festive...and fun for kids!
I also think it would be super easy just to cover the table
with butcher paper and let the kids color right on the table!
7. Make a buffet table - If you set up a buffet area for all the food, you can keep your table clutter free and also leave room for the centerpiece. If you have an extra table or counter (or even another piece of furniture) not being used, set up a dessert buffet. Display all your pretty pies and cakes and cookies on cake plates, platters, and tiered stands for easy dramatic effect (and to build anticipation of good things yet to come!).