Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Project: Lay the Table

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, you've probably got your menu and shopping all sorted out, so it's time to start thinking about the details: you know, the wine, the dishes, the silver, and how you want your table to look. Maybe this is the first time you're hosting Thanksgiving, or maybe you're getting ready for a nice dinner at some other time in the holiday season, but amid all the drama of serving the perfect salmonella-free turkey, it's worth taking a few moments to consider the stage upon which that drama is set: the table.

I'm building my table around my wedding china, crystal and flatware.

1. I love this Marimekko Luminjara tablecloth (on sale at Crate and Barrel). The taupe and pink color scheme will go well with my china, and the print reminds me of the rowan tree in my neighbor's garden on frosty November morning. In addition, the pattern is busy enough to hide gravy stains, which is an issue at my house.

2. These candlesticks would look great in multiples, dotted along the length of the table, and I like the dramatic effect of the dark candles, which will echo the dark branches on the tablecloth, and pull the whole thing together.

3. Further echoing the nature theme are these sweet bird placecard holders and nest napkin rings, which will look sweet on the table. Add some leaf-shaped salt cellars in dull silver, and you're all set for a sumptuous autumn feast.

4. I don't know how she does it, but I'm always inspired by Martha Stewart's flower arrangement skills, and this autumnal arrangement of buff roses and berries in silver vessels is no exception. I think it would look beautiful either on my table, or set along the mantelpiece in the dining room.

But seriously, the most important part of a well-laid table is having all the pieces in the right place. Not many people have occasion to set a formal table on a regular basis, but I think Thanksgiving is definitely one of the times when you absolutely have to. Just in case you don't have your own butler, here's helpful diagram of the proper way to set a formal table:
If you're having more courses, the forks and spoons just build outward as you go. In England you will also see your dessert fork and spoon laid above the dinner plate when you sit down, but that's not typical of a formal American setting. Either way, you're really just saving yourself a lot of time by having everything laid out when dinner begins, so even though it looks like a lot of merchandise on the table when you start serving, you'll be grateful later, when you don't have to rush around digging pieces out of the silver chest.

Now all that's left is to cook the turkey!

How are you planning to do your tables this year? I'd love to hear.

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