How To Set A Simple And Special Thanksgiving Table

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At Party Bluprints, we don’t just talk the talk and show you a pretty picture. We walk the walk in our everyday lives and share with you what works to make gatherings simple for you {the host} and special for everyone {your guests}.

When I host Thanksgiving, I need to create seating for anywhere from 25-35 guests – I like to gather everyone at the table, even if it’s a table that runs from the dining room through to the living room. Although I feel that Thanksgiving is all about family, friends and the feast, it’s still important to me to make my table inviting and festive for my guests. Here’s the inside scoop on how I keep things simple but special while I’m otherwise occupied in the kitchen prepping the feast! – Elizabeth

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Quick Tips: A Simple & Special Thanksgiving Table

Seating strategy – for larger holiday gatherings that go beyond cocktails and appetizers, get a plan for seating all your guests. This is an easy task to tackle early on in planning so you’re not scrambling to squeeze everyone into limited and uncomfortable space. If the number of guests exceeds the seats at your table, create an alternate dining table that accommodates all your guests. Rectangular folding tables and chairs that are easy to store are a smart solution.

Basics – store cleaned and pressed white rectangular tablecloths (60” x 120”) to cover a ranging expanse of tabletop depending on number of guests. Clear glass dinner plates and stemless wine glasses are an inexpensive solution to setting your table with a uniform and clean foundation (store them in between parties.)

Embellish the basics – add festivity and pops of color to your table using flowers, vases, napkins, candles and place setting cards.

Flower power – flowers rate #1 on affordable and easy strategies for simply making your table look and feel special. You can do it too in 5 easy steps:

  1. There’s beauty in simplicity. Stick with one type of flower with a big beautiful blossom, e.g. roses.
  2. Don’t skimp on the quantity. Purchase at least a few dozen roses to give you an ample supply to work with. Bonus: depending on the size of your containers/vases and the quantity you should have extra to pop a bloom or two in the powder room and other areas of your entertaining space(s).
  3. Be economical. Call ahead to a few of your local supermarkets to see what specials they are running Thanksgiving week on roses (in my area, specials range from $9.99 – $14.99 on bunches of 12, 18, 24 roses.) Find the best deal and ask what time the flower shipment gets unloaded and displayed in store either the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Plan to arrive near that time to get a prime pick.  Note: If you have to purchase your flowers two days in advance of party, keep them in a large container of water in a cool spot. Refrigerator space is at a premium leading up to Thanksgiving, so depending on your climate, your garage may be an option. If you purchase them one day in advance, temporarily put them in a large bucket of water as soon as you get home and arrange same day.
  4. Be prepared. Collect a variety of containers from around the house and basement, so all you have to do is line them up on the counter, fill them with water and start arranging. I used vintage canning jars from my grandmother’s/mother’s collection for my containers. I made the decision to serve our Thanksgiving Feast buffet and not family style as the tables are not generous in width. As I had a narrow strip of table to work with, I choose containers with bases that would fit within this area, keeping in mind that I wanted the arrangements to complement not only the table but the dining experience for my guests which means keep it low.
  5. Make it easy to work. Pick a work area that provides you space to spread out your various containers and elbow room to do your thing, preferably outside the kitchen and feast prep. Working one bunch at a time, remove leaves from the stems. Position flower next to container so bottom of rose sits just above opening of container and cut to this length Insert in container to double-check height and continue process until container is filled. Repeat process with remaining flowers.

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Build your centerpiece. Set your table with a place setting for each guest – you should have a final headcount on guests the day before your gathering. Since the table is covered with a cloth and the center offered a narrow space to work with, I opted to use flat rectangular glass platters as a foundation to build my centerpiece that served as a runner throughout. Each platter got a floral arrangement, votive and turkey candle – for the guests comfort, I made sure to offset the floral arrangements so they were positioned in between place settings.

Accessorize each place setting. Open seating is fine, it’s just a tradition of ours to use place cards at Thanksgiving and it’s another opportunity to bring some color and festivity to the table. The final touch was adding a turkey tail feathers inspired napkin to each setting.

Easy How-to Turkey Tail Napkin Fold:

  1. Open napkin and lay flat on table.
  2. Fold in half and rotate so length is vertical.
  3. Fold napkin accordion style ¾ of the way up length of napkin. Take left side of accordion-folded napkin and fold over on itself to the right – folding it in half. Hold folded accordion with right hand and with left hand fold tail end of napkin just under last accordion folded napkin at a 90 degree angle and wrap under itself. With “tail feathers” of napkin facing up to ceiling, place napkin in center of plate – with the tail end securely anchored underneath itself, let the tail feathers open onto the plate.

or try your hand at this one from iVillage.com>

Turkey-636Turkey-Napkin-Fold-Diagram-

. . .  and for the star at your table try our easy how to recipe for Grilled Turkey here>

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