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Project

Setting a Thanksgiving Table

Introduction


Whether your style is traditional or modern, your guests young or old, one of our dramatic tables is sure to be a hit.

Just like the scenery in a well-staged play, the components of a well-set table create a mood. Carefully considered details reinforce that feeling, and when everything is in its proper place, everyone is drawn in. With imaginative crafts and inspired tabletop ideas, however, setting a festive Thanksgiving table needn't be a production. First, consider your audience (children, say, need extra attention). Choose props, from centerpieces to napkin folds, that are in keeping with your style, the room, and the menu. Then on Thanksgiving, have everyone take their places. After not so much ado, it's curtain time.

A Whimsical Table

This table in fall hues -- orange fringed paper napkins, golden drinks, and Bakelite utensils -- will hold kids' interest, with style (but adults, too, might like a centerpiece of chocolate turkeys). Draw turkeys on a fringed paper tablecloth for coloring between courses; brown-paper goody bags tied with beaded-leather cord hold the crayons.

Tabletop Turkey Template

Print out our turkey template at desired size (or enlarge on a photocopier) so image will provide an outline for dinner plate. Cut out turkey to create a template. Using a black marker, trace it on paper tablecloth at each place setting. To keep marker from staining the tabletop, place a large piece of paper under the tablecloth before tracing.

A Modern Table

This distinctive contemporary table begins with an emphasis on light and form. A homemade Ultrasuede table mat adds color and interest; it's cut with a rotary cutter just smaller than the table to create the illusion of a border. It protects the table without feeling fussy, and it's practical, since Ultrasuede can be machine-washed.

Sleek hurricanes filled with fallen leaves show off colors that contrast with the otherwise monochromatic palette. The clear glass of the goblets and hurricanes keeps the look clean. A leaf in the folds of a napkin and a handwritten place card -- a strip of paper inscribed with a white-gel pen -- welcome each guest to dinner.

Paper-Leaf How-To

Add these leaves to bowls of gourds, or lay a few along a tablecloth. We used light-green paper, but you can use any color you like.

1. Trace or print the leaf template onto the back of a piece of decorative paper, and cut out as many leaves as you want.

2. To give the leaves more dimension, fold them outward at notches and inward along lobes.

3. Use a length of paper-covered wire for a stem, and use hot glue to affix it to the center back of the leaf. Let dry.

4. Coil the wire stem around the handle of a wooden spoon or a pencil; slip off.

Modern-Table Napkin Fold

We used linen napkins for this project.

1. Crease napkin into thirds horizontally.

2. Fold following the creases.

3. From the center point, crease the napkin down on the left side at a 45-degree angle; repeat on right.

4. The napkin now has a tentlike shape.

5. Flip the napkin over; roll up both overhangs.

6. Holding napkin, including rolls, flip it.

7. Fold the right and left corners up at 45-degree angles.

8. Place a napkin at each place setting.

A Timeless Table

Elegance can be found in familiar places. Here, formal china is set out with "homemade" hollowware. Hot-glue a large bowl to a smaller one (or a plate to a teacup) to create pedestals from inexpensive tableware; use one for bread and others for roses (cut the stems short and insert into wet floral foam cut to fit the bowls).

Handsomely folded cloth napkins fit in with the table's traditional feel. To make photo place cards, copy childhood photographs of family members in black-and-white or sepia; then glue the images to card stock, and trim with deckle-edged scissors.

Compote How-To

Simple white porcelain serving pieces, such as soup bowls, sake cups, salad plates, and ramekins, are ideal for this project. You can experiment, using brightly colored ceramic pieces or mismatched china from flea markets or tag sales.

For best results, use pieces with bottoms that are similar in diameter; the base piece should be large enough to provide a sturdy foundation. Do not place in dishwasher once assembled. To separate, microwave on High for 45-second intervals until glue softens.

1. Invert a small bowl or cup to serve as a base.

2. Using a hot-glue gun, apply glue to bottom of a large bowl or plate.

3. Position larger bowl on top of the smaller one, centering as needed.

Timeless-Table Napkin Fold

We used damask napkins; other kinds work well, too, but for best results, avoid using napkins with a border pattern.

1. Crease napkin into thirds horizontally.

2. Fold following the creases.

3. Fold down the right corner halfway in from edge.

4. Flip napkin; fold corners of underhang up and in, to form two small triangles.

5. Fold that side up and to the right at a 45-degree angle to form a square.

6. At the rightmost point of square, fold under right side of napkin.

7. Place a napkin at each place setting.

A Harvest Table

Set a celebratory table with bold splashes of color from the garden or farmers' market; gourds, fruit, and nuts come in golds, yellows, oranges, and a range of browns and greens.

Transform a variety of dried gourds into tableware by hollowing them out and piling them high with pears and walnuts as centerpieces; fill others with candles in glass votives, and still more with salt and pepper.

Napkin rings of small grapevine wreaths (available at crafts stores) tied with velvet ribbon are unexpected and simple to assemble. For a feast with just a few friends or a crowd, this attractive setting inspired by nature will evoke the warmth of the season.

Paper-Leaf How-To

Add these leaves to bowls of gourds, or lay a few along a tablecloth. We used light-green paper, but you can use any color you like.

1. Trace or print the leaf template onto the back of a piece of decorative paper, and cut out as many leaves as you want.

2. To give the leaves more dimension, fold them outward at notches and inward along lobes.

3. Use a length of paper-covered wire for a stem, and use hot glue to affix it to the center back of the leaf. Let dry.

4. Coil the wire stem around the handle of a wooden spoon or a pencil; slip off.

Harvest-Table Gourd Crafts

Work outside; wear goggles and a dust mask. Before placing food in gourds, apply a sealant such as Behlen's Salad Bowl Finish; let dry.

1. For a bowl or saltcellar, mark a horizon on a dried gourd. Pierce it with a serrated hobby knife, insert tip, and saw along line. Remove top and seeds; use a sculpture tool to scrape out any pulp. Sand inside and edges with sandpaper.

2. For pepper shaker, cut hole in gourd for a cork; clean as in step 1. Sand inside and edges with a Dremel drill.

3. Drill holes.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, November 2004