Your family will enjoy the terra-cotta place settings, dried floral arrangements, and bountiful grazing board of seasonal crudités.

By Alexandra Churchill
November 20, 2020
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terra-cotta holiday table
Credit: Jessica Lynn Photography

Thanksgiving is, traditionally, a time for giving and gathering. We indulge in each other's company, good conversation and games, and a hearty, home-cooked feast. Of course, this year's holiday has us thinking differently while current state-by-state traveling restrictions may mandate against us reuniting 'round the table with far flung friends and family. Even if your holiday plans this year are reserved to hosting the members of your own household, it's all the more worth it to make things special. Enter: this décor idea, enlisting the help of several creatives.

An Inviting Setting

Coziness, warmth, and home-for-the-holidays comfort was the idea for Jacquelyn Kazas, owner and lead designer of Beijos Events, in designing her tablescape. "Terra-cotta was the main inspiration, along with a boho touch," she says.

Here, she layered a rust-colored tablecloth from Party Crush Studio with knotted napkins from Hostess Haven, rattan placemats, and a beautiful set of heath-colored plates and amber glassware from Cherished Rentals. At each place setting, she designated a seat for everyone at the table with calligraphed terra-cotta place cards by Proper Letter. This warm, earthy-toned color palette evoked the warmth of Southern California. "I love a layered look for a table and including pretty details."

Hanging overhead, she added neutral elements like the custom macrame pieces by The Neutral Knot and TORARED Pendant Lamp Shades ($19.99, ikea.com) from Ikea. Kazas adds, "I find these colors to be perfect for a fall gathering."

For the dried floral arrangements, they pulled some of their favorite varieties—creme brûlée phlox, koko loko and honey dijon garden roses from psalter farms in San Diego, as well as dried wild grasses. "I chose neutral-hued blooms to complement the overall palette of the tablescape," says Alex Shannon, owner of Third & Park. For their display, she arranged them in handcrafted pottery from Leila Ray Ceramics.

terra-cotta colored bar
fall crudites
Left: Credit: Jessica Lynn Photography
Right: Credit: Jessica Lynn Photography

Sips and Snacks

For a pour-your-own-drink bar, Katie Doyle, owner of Bottles and Blooms, concocted two signature beverages: a Harvest Peach cocktail (she combines the sweet and savory flavors of amaretto liqueur with fresh peach juice and yakult) and Desert Rose Blush Sangria. "This fun play on a traditional sangria combines a crisp rosé with fruit juices, a delectable apricot brandy, all topped off with a spicy ginger ale and macerated fruits," says Doyle, adding, "Who doesn't love a good sangria?"

Aislinn Minardi, owner of Proper Letter, crafted the custom signage."For the bar signage, I hand-lettered the words in my signature calligraphy and then digitized everything on the computer," she explains, engraving and laser-cutting the acrylic by hand.

Of course, no holiday gathering is without a proper feast. But for a smaller crowd, a grazing table may be in order, as suggested by Sarah Kuhlberg, creative director of Colette's Catering. The menu consisted of butter poached shrimp with white cheddar grits, fig and gruyere grilled cheeses with shallot confit, and what she calls "the most inspired dish of all"—fall crudités with roasted pepper hummus. "The mini crudités included tri-colored baby carrots, Romanesco florets, heirloom tomatoes, French radishes, and purple cauliflower, all of which reflect a true Southern Californian harvest," explains Kulhberg. "Of course, we had to incorporate the color scheme into the overall food display and plating, to round out the entire vision."

terra-cotta cake
seating arrangement of velvet chairs and poufs
Left: Credit: Jessica Lynn Photography
Right: Credit: Jessica Lynn Photography

A Sweet Ending

On a marble cake stand, the artful dessert ended the holiday meal on a sweet note. "The flavor is our most popular, velvety lemon cake with raspberry filling and raspberry buttercream frosting," says Diana Murguia, owner of Sugar Crush Sweets, adding that, "the buttermilk in this cake makes the cake extra moist!"

To transition everyone from the dining table to the living space—and make even that a luxurious experience—they rearranged furniture with high-low seating. "By not going full bohemian with all low seating, we've combined sumptuous velvet high-back chairs that complement the pouf and pillow arrangement," explains Marnie Schnabel, owner of Sweet Salvage Rentals. "Pair that with some tables in varying heights and you've pulled off the perfect 'seating landscape' that makes each person comfortable."

There's beauty to be found in the intimacy of a small gathering. When asked for her advice, Kazas suggests enlisting the help of other household members by tasking them each with a different dish to prepare. "That way, the day of you can focus on entertaining and being in the moment," she says. "As much as you can make things pretty and delicious, the most important thing is to be together and share in the fun!"

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