Bring the outdoors inside to create a beautiful setting for your holiday meal
By Debbie Eisele
Thanksgiving is a time of celebration with family and friends. I love to offer a relaxing, comforting environment as it helps the gathering last longer, at least in my home. One thing I have always tried to do is provide pleasing aesthetics that make people feel welcome and comfortable. You can create the same feeling on with your Thanksgiving table–without spending a fortune.
Although the ideas listed below will help you create beautiful Thanksgiving table decorations, you may incorporate many of the same principles for other holiday gatherings: Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah, and so many others.
What to look for–fall beauty
In the fall you may be thinking: where am I going to find beauty? Well, there is plenty! Look for shrubs and trees in your yard, or a friend’s (who is willing to share).
Look for stems with berries. Options range from Nandina (Heavenly Bamboo) to Callicarpa (Beauty Bush) to Pyracantha (Firethorn) to Aronia (Chokeberry) to Ilex verticillata (Winterberry) — red, orange, purple and even on some, blue. All of these combine well with other natural items to showcase the colors of the season.
Snip some bare branches. Using branches, even without foliage, within an arrangement creates a wonderful natural texture. Some deciduous trees and shrubs offer beautiful bark or texture that may dress up any table. For instance, the red twig dogwood, sycamore, ninebark and many others have either color or a unique feature that is stunning to the eyes and table. Also, red twig dogwood stems make a great, natural pop of seasonal color.
Cut some flowers. If a hard freeze hasn’t killed off all your blooms yet, you may be able to clip some from your yard to include on your table decorations. Wonderful options include goldenrod, asters, mums, and the October blooming daisy (if they are still in bloom; they are dependent on whatever Mother Nature sends our way). You may even include some dried flowers from your garden, such as a few stems off a hydrangea with a dried bloom intact.
Gather some foliage. If you love the colors of the fall season, why not gather some freshly dropped leaves or snip some off a tree that is still hanging on to the last bit of fall? Showcase the beauty of autumn by incorporating the foliage into a floral arrangement, or even just place the leaves in a glass bowl.
Purchase some color. What is fall without some gourds or pumpkins? Traditionally, many tables are set with some of these natural items incorporated onto the table or around a buffet. The seasonal beauty of the gourds offers an inexpensive way to bring the outdoors in, as well as create the familiar sense of tradition.
Gather some fruit and spices. Apples and cinnamon allow your sense of smell to be enticed. Simply slice the apples and place in water along with some cinnamon sticks and cloves and simmer on the stove. Fresh oranges with cloves pierced through them and placed in a decorative bowl also provide a similar enjoyment for your sense of smell. Of course, neither of these options will overpower the main delightful aromas of your Thanksgiving meal.
Putting it all together
Once you have gathered all the items you find appealing, look for some vases or other decorative items that would create a beautiful display. Certain baskets, mason jars, milk jugs, pottery, or even galvanized containers will all display the colors of the season in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Really, it is up to you to select the best way to showcase the natural beauty.
One thing I suggest is a simple clear glass vase with some jute tied around the glass as a natural element: arrange the branches, then add the berries and fill in as needed with other items found in your yard. You can even add interest by adding some black walnuts or acorns you find lying around your yard.
If you prefer several small containers, you can use bud vases or the small mason jars along the middle of your table. The benefit here is that people can see over them easily and they leave more room for the food on the table! The mason jars may be tied with jute as well for the natural look.
Happy Thanksgiving, and remember to appreciate the beauty of the season as well as your time with loved ones. I hope you enjoy implementing some of these ideas.
About the author:
Debbie Eisele is the senior editor and a writer for Piedmont Lifestyle Magazines, and a former Master Gardener and Certified Virginia Horticulturist. She enjoys the outdoors and the beauty it offers whether it be outside or inside the home.