Hosting a holiday gathering puts plenty of additional work on your plate. Cooking for a larger crowd is stressful enough, without the added burden of making sure each place setting is Instagram-worthy. If you’re anything like us, after undertaking a major shopping trip, figuring out how to make mashed potatoes for 10 people, and finding all of the right wines to go with the meal, completing a DIY project is probably last on your list of priorities.
The good news is, even a simple white place setting can be upgraded in a pinch with things you already have around the house. Don’t look to Pinterest for table design inspiration, here are some simple tips to quickly take your table decor to the next level.
- Upcycle Old Decor. If you have mini pumpkins leftover from Halloween around the house, you can easily upcycle them to chic Thanksgiving decor by adding a coat of white paint. An all-white, monochromatic color scheme will feel both contemporary and sophisticated, and decorating using a single color also makes things easier because it takes fewer elements to make an impact.
- A Peek of Foliage. If your Holiday Pinterest inspiration board is loaded with fancy chargers that you simply don’t have in your china cabinet, this idea is for you! Create a captivating table setting with this no-cost upgrade using seasonal leaves you can find outside. We used magnolia leaves found in Savannah, Georgia in our inspiration, but you can use any variety you find in your backyard. Just make sure they are clean and dry. Once you have gathered the leaves you want to use, overlap them in a circle that is larger than the plate so the tips peek out just a little. This is a good job for children or anyone who arrives early and needs to stay busy while you finish cooking the meal.
- Natural Shine. This upgrade makes a simple statement. Find small branches that have a pinecone or two attached and drape the napkin over the branch. If you have time, and want to take it up a notch, use a bit of gold spray paint to add shine. Just make sure the pinecones are clean. You can use a hairdryer to ensure all of the crevices are clean and ready for the table.
- A Taste Of The Season. While shopping for your meal’s main ingredients there is a good chance that you ended up with a few extra cranberries. Use your leftovers to honor this traditional holiday food at each place setting. They bring a pop of color and remind everyone to have at least a taste of your homemade cranberry dressing. We used a tin bucket that we had in the studio for the inspiration shot, but you could also use Champagne coupe glasses, mason jars, or even mini pinch bowls for this place setting. Don’t limit yourself to cranberries, maybe you have some beautiful brussels sprouts or an overflowing mint plant that you could feature instead. Bonus points for adding handwritten name cards to ensure nobody accidentally ends up at the kids table!
Next Level Deco
- Add Glitz With Glitter. Glitter can sometimes be a risk (mostly because of the cleanup!) but it can be really impactful on a holiday table. To recreate this place setting, use thin glue or modge podge to paint on every other section of a mini pumpkin, and then pour glitter over those sections. Once the pumpkin is dry, we used it to highlight each place setting, and folded a piece of sequined fabric into a square for the placemat. Gold is a great compliment to an orange pumpkin, or you can take our earlier monochromatic example to the next level by adding silver glitter.
- Pop of Color. Try using an unconventional hue, like pink, as a festive pop of color in your decor. Choose one color and keep it consistent consistent throughout your design elements, using different patterns and textures to keep things interesting. For this place setting, we started with pinecones again and a bright fabric napkin with a rough edge. Using the napkin as inspiration we chose a slightly darker pink spray paint to give the pinecone an unexpected edge and tie the two together. We love an unexpected pop of color for a place setting that feels playful and retro.
- The Unexpected. What is this on my plate? Sometimes a unique or unusual item can help to start conversation. In this example we used a persimmon, which some might mistake for a tomato at first glance. In Ozark folklore persimmons were used to predict how harsh of a winter people should expect. Before the meal begins, ask your guests to slice open their persimmon and make their winter weather predictions based on the shape of the seeds. According to legend, seeds in a spoon shape is said to foreshadow a cold winter with heavy snowfall, while a fork shape is meant to indicate warmer temperatures. Another unexpected idea that can be a conversation starter is using cookie cutters on each place setting. Choose one related to each person, and give your guests a chance to guess how the cookie cutter at their place relates to them.
For more ideas and holiday inspiration, check out our Thanksgiving #TableTalk from Facebook Live with Libbie Summers, our Creative Culinary Director, and our CEO, Mike McDevitt.
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