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Thanksgiving Table Tricks


Holiday budget a bit strained? Let’s talk turkey.

spaceanddesignthanksgivingtableAs the grocery store cashier rings up your farm-to-table turkey, organic cranberries and fingerling potatoes, you just might start to rethink hosting Thanksgiving dinner for your family and friends.

When you’ve already broken the bank just buying the basics, decorating for dinner can be discouragingly daunting. We can’t help you save on groceries (that’s a whole different column) — but we can help you keep your Thanksgiving costs down when it comes to setting a festive table.

FIRST THINGS FIRST. Don’t serve on a bare table! Laying a tablecloth is the easiest way to create a celebratory atmosphere (and it helps keep serving accidents from damaging your table). If you don’t have a tablecloth, try repurposing a large bedsheet in a neutral color like white, beige or gray.

A table runner can also add a touch of formal fall festivity — check out local fabric stores for bolts or scraps of fabric in autumn hues like vermilion, burgundy and ocher.

READY, SET, SHINE. Your silverware doesn’t need to be sterling — but utensils should be polished and carefully placed. Try wrapping sets in strands of raffia or ribbon, tying a bow, and laying one in the center of every plate.

BASKET CASE. Make a simple, pretty centerpiece by filling a wicker basket with apples, miniature pumpkins, gourds, and ears of corn. Place it in the center of the table runner.

LEAVE IT BE. New Orleans isn’t known for eye-popping fall colors, so instead of scouring streets for colorful leaves, head to the craft store and pick up a bouquet of faux foliage for about $5. Arrange the leaves around your centerpiece, or float them in bowls of water alongside glowing tea lights.

TASTEFUL LIGHTING. Ideally, the host’s home will be filled with the aromas of Thanksgiving dinner cooked perfectly — fresh pumpkin and apple pies, roast turkey, savory stuffing, and buttery rolls. But just in case anything goes wrong, light a few scented candles in warm, comforting flavors like vanilla, chai or currant.

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. Handmade place cards help welcome your guests to dinner, and can become keepsakes to mark the occasion. Carefully write names on pieces of cardstock and place the cards around the table — or take it a step further, and bake gingerbread cookies in the shapes of guests’ initials.

Even if nothing goes as planned on Thanksgiving, try not to stress out. You’ll still be surrounded by loved ones — and that’s reason enough to celebrate.