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The Mismatch Game
They’re classic Thanksgiving conundrums: You have more guests coming than matching china or linens, or your inherited pieces feel too old-fashioned. To make your table setting work for you, take another look at what you have, then take a new approach. Combine patterns and colors. Pair modern with traditional. Supplement store-bought with some handmade. Tablesetting problems solved, beautifully.
Botanical dinner plates were the starting point for this table. A fresh color palette pulled from the floral pattern -- yellow, lavender, brown, and gray -- ties everything together. Sleek gray side plates are a contemporary counterpoint to the vintage pattern on the dinner plates. Assorted napkins become a set with the addition of stitched-on crochet trim along one edge. Antique etched wineglasses, plain low tumblers, and purple pressed-glass tumblers round out the old-new theme, while flat place cards with single dried flowers reinforce the color scheme.
Chelsea Botanical dinner plates, mottahedeh.com
Salad plates, in Ash, us.mudaustralia.com
Crown glasses, in Lavender, michelevarian.com
Marta double old-fashioned glasses, cb2.com
Zinc trays, jamaligarden.com
Pots of Style
Arrange plants and squashes in galvanized trays for a display that takes no more than five minutes. (Ours are varieties of coleus and sweet-potato vine in terra-cotta pots.)
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All Tucked In
Bundles of cutlery are easy to grab at a Thanksgiving buffet, and it’s a cinch to embellish them for dinner. Just tie each wrapped set with waxed twine and insert a couple of stems of dried flowers.
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Young at Art
Cover the kids’ table in embellished paper -- or better yet, have them do it themselves. A long roll of green paper from the hardware store takes the place of a tablecloth. Younger children can use rubber stamps and ink pads to give it and their paper napkins a floral motif. Older kids can make place mats from thick paper and craft-punched lacy trim.
Keep little hands busy between courses by setting out colored pencils. Kids can draw, play games, or write their names on their place mats.
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The Write Stuff
Encourage guests to finish the sentence “I’m thankful for . . .” (Write the phrase on colored cards with a white or metallic gel pen, then hand out more pens to guests.) You can read the cards aloud at dinner and have everyone guess who wrote which message.
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Dried-Flower Placecards How-To
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Lace-Trimmed Napkins How-To
The napkins are trimmed on just one edge, which cuts down on sewing and expense. You can use a sewing machine or do the stitching by hand. Cut crochet-lace trim 1 inch longer than the length of one napkin side. Fold the trim ends under 1/4 inch twice, and hand-stitch to secure. Hand-stitch or machine-stitch the trim to the napkin edge.
Helena linen napkin, in Indigo and Mustard, crateandbarrel.com
Festival dinner napkin, in Crocus, sferra.com
Crochet lace, in Mustard, and Cluny lace, in Dark Brown, mjtrim.com
Mélange Torchon lace, in Grey, by Shindo, 212-868-9311
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Dried-Flower Wreath How-To
Tuck clusters of Spanish moss into a grapevine wreath, covering it in a loose layer. Add dried flowers (we used craspedia, margaritas, globe thistle, nigella pods, and canella berries): Trim the stems to 1 inch, tuck them into place, and secure with hot glue as necessary. Hang with fishing line. (We purchased materials for this from teresasplants.com, which is offering a kit with all the supplies needed for this wreath.)
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Table Cover and Placemats How-To
Stamp flower shapes onto green paper. For place mats, cut thick paper to 10 by 15 inches. Cut 2-inch-wide strips of thin colored paper 1 inch longer than each side. Use an edge punch to punch the strips (along with a sheet of copier paper to prevent ripping). Use double-sided tape to attach the strips to the back of the thick paper, trimming and aligning the corners for a seamless look.
Masking paper, in Green, homedepot.com
Canford paper (for mats), 20" by 30", in Drednought Grey, aifriedman.com
Japanese Yatsuo paper (for trim), nycentralart.com
Embroidery Deep-Edge punch, by Martha Stewart Crafts, michaels.com
Assorted floral stamps, the Ink Pad, 212-463-9876