May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
My mother loves the holidays. She especially loves that fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving is her time to shine in the kitchen. One month before the big day, she begins to compile the “feast”. With cookbooks strewn across the kitchen counter, the race begins to find a recipe for creamed onions that is better than last year’s.
A fond memory of Thanksgiving is after the menu has been designed; off to the grocery store we go. Up and down the aisles with our list in hand, we would search for the ripest squash and the most plump turkey. The produce aisles were always a favorite. All those vegetables and herbs would make the house smell like Thanksgiving.
With our grocery cart full, we would head back home and make our wonderfully delectable treats. Belt buckles would loosen and we would forget about that no carb, low-fat, gluten free diet and consume wonderfully made turkey, candied sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie!
With the holidays fast approaching, many of us will welcome family and friends into our homes. For the first installment of the Design Lab, I wanted to create some festive design ideas for our homes. I realized my grocery shopping memories were a great mecca for design and decoration! So, here is a quick, easy and affordable idea for dressing up a dining table…with food!
When approaching this table design concept, my biggest concern was that the elements used in the decoration were easy to find and adapt to your tables, but were not your run of the mill pumpkins and gourds. I also wanted to make sure that you did not have to spend last week’s salary on something that would be appreciated for all of a couple hours or ‘till the last creamed onion was consumed.
With many wonderful fruits and vegetables in season right now, I thought a farmer’s market was a great place to start. Most of the items I found are likely available at the supermarket down the road. I visited Wilson Farms in Lexington MA for my supplies. This wonderful family-run emporium of products has been around since 1884 and is a two-time Best of Boston winner. Most of the products are locally grown and represent the finest quality foods at prices that won’t break the bank.
Here is a list of the items bought and used:
Ingredients for your table-
- Mustard Greens
- Collard Greens
- Tuscan Kale
- Crab Apples
- Asian Eggplant
- Fava Beans
- Manzanita Branches
I chose these items for their color and their complimentary shapes to one another. I loved how the red mustard green leaves were large and floppy which made them hang well over the lip of a vase. I loved the pure red color of the crab apples against a silver colored pewter dish. I also loved that to purchase all these items, it cost under $30.00! A bargain when you consider what a flower arrangement can cost from a local flower shop.
After collecting you autumn bounty, the next step is to choose how to arrange and display the wonderful colors and textures of these items. Also pull out your plates, glasses, flatware and linens and begin to piece together what will be used.
Start with your vessels. Pull out a variety of glasses all varying heights and scatter them along the table. I used a smattering of water goblets, white wine glasses, vases and pewter trays and boxes. Mixing different heights and sizes of the pieces will create visual interest, so place a short goblet next to a taller vase, or a small tray next to a taller glass. Once you have a nice arrangement (leaving room for the platters of food!) play with the vegetables and see what looks best in the various vessels. I liked the way the Red Mustard greens draped over a stemmed goblet and found that the chestnuts fit perfectly stacked in a pewter box.
Many of these containers and accessories I used were selected from the ever inspiring home accessories shop in Weston MA called Trove which is a wonderful place for unique and signature items. And I mixed it up with my own pieces. Do you have old china or interesting pieces passed down from generations past that are gathering dust in the closet? I used my basic white basket weave edged everyday dishware and paired them with bone handled flatware
One important consideration is to keep the colors of your table similar. This keeps it visually consistent to the eye. Look at your plates and dishes and stay with that color for your linens. Here we used shades of brown and green. We threw in some bursts of red vegetables as accent color.
Lighting is a great way to set the ambiance. We used 4” votives here and scattered 5 of them intermittently throughout the table. The light gave the vegetables a nice glow and enhanced the color of the persimmon and chestnuts. A tall glass cylinder has millions of uses. We lined this one with Mustard greens to camouflage the bottom of the Manzanita branches. The branches were bought at a local craft store but there are plenty of branches probably outside your home that can be clipped off and used instead.
Finally, a dining room usually has more than 1 surface to decorate. This dining room had a beautiful buffet table situated at one wall of the room. We placed some italian eggplants in a gorgeous silver compote and lined it with red mustard greens to add another focal point.
Thanksgiving is a great time to showcase your table and home to family and friends. A time to dine and get festive. So put the “party shoes” on that table and treat your guests to a festive and creative table that will get them in the spirit!