Darcy Miller's Thanksgiving Table Brings Kids and Adults Together
Thanksgiving is, of course, a family affair—so how do you set a table that accommodates everyone? For this hallmark holiday, we have returned to our roots of reinventing tradition by turning to an editor whose entertaining style we admire most: Darcy Miller. Judging from her job description, it's no surprise that she has a knack for home celebrations. As the owner of Darcy Miller Designs and Martha Stewart Weddings editor at large, she's the mastermind behind many of the creative ideas brought to life on the pages of Living as well as online.
Here, Miller shares her best ideas for opening your doors to friends with children more than welcome. With her muses, husband Andy Nussbaum and their three daughters—Daisy, Ella, and Pippa—the table celebrates coming together as a family. Family memories come to life with photographs and tokens displayed artfully on the table. Linens and elegantly folded napkins set the backdrop for fall harvest decorations. At each place setting, Miller provides either a gilded miniature pumpkin (for adults) or a paper turkey (for children); both of these ideas double as charming place card ideas for your guests. A flock of tissue-paper turkeys makes for a quick and easily assembled Thanksgiving centerpiece. And above all, her idea of a "thankful" tree encourages the guests to share what they're thankful for in a leaf cutout to be displayed. The menu is a must, but here, guests are free to nibble on bite-sized desserts and sweets: frosted cupcakes, pumpkin truffles, scoops of popcorn, and chocolate turkeys wrapped in foil. Clip-art and printable templates give younger guests a chance to express themselves, while arts and crafts supplies become the tools they need to make their own take-home art.
Try one or more of Miller's ideas for a feast to be remembered.
Give Thanks Together
"This thankful tree is a sweet centerpiece you can craft ahead of time," Miller says, "and it's perfect for teaching kids what Thanksgiving is really about." To make one of your own, forage branches from your yard or source them from a local florist (she used curly willow) and cut paper leaves from construction paper. You'll just need a small piece of double stick tape to attach the foliage to your branches.
When people arrive or just as they sit down to eat, ask guests to pick a leaf and write what they're thankful for. Go around table and read the leaves, then add them to your scrapbook when the holiday is over. As Miller remarks, "It's so nice to read these year after year."
Shop Now: Paper Cuts Studios Paper Leaves, $10.50 for 30, etsy.com.
Welcome Your Guests
A painted gourd is a quick, elegant place card for the table. Write guests' names on a piece of paper and attach it to the stem. They're reminiscent of the other pumpkins at the table—a dish piled with foil-wrapped pumpkin-flavored truffles.
Décor with Punch
One of Miller's go-to craft tools is the craft punch, particularly Martha's. "Create beautiful table décor with a simple craft punch tool," as she suggests, "Just punch around paper and tape to cups and candles." For decorating glass hurricanes, votives, or the vase that holds your thankful tree centerpiece, this punch produces one continuous die-cut border.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Swirling Lace Edge Punch, $26, amazon.com. Eastland Cylinder Vase, 3.25" x 9", $4, save-on-crafts.com. Colonial Candle Ivory Unscented Pillar Candle, 3" x 6", $14.50, colonialcandle.com.
Delight the Kids
Many families prefer to host the children at another table, and Miller is no different. "I like to have a special table for the kids at Thanksgiving," she says. "Decorating is simple: Just have children draw designs on a brown craft paper 'tablecloth' with crayons, stickers, and stamps."
Shop Now: Amscan Turkey Honeycomb Centerpiece, $7.44, amazon.com. School Smart Butcher Kraft Paper Roll, 36" x 1,000', $43.36, target.com. Paper Source Foil Leaf Stickers, $5 for 36, papersource.com. Thanksgiving Stamp Tub, $15, papersource.com. Milk Chocolate Thanksgiving Turkeys, 2.5 oz., $4.29, ohnuts.com.
Personalize Their Place Settings
While younger guests are best served with disposable, unbreakable tableware—bamboo plates and cutlery, and paper cups embellished with glittering leaf stickers—there are, nonetheless, ways to elevate their experience at the dinner table. "Flameless, battery-powered candles will make kids feel like grown-ups," Miller offers as a tip. A simple turkey serves as a place card.
Shop Now: Bambu All Occasion Veneerware Round Plates, 7", $20.55 for 25, ecoparty.com. Party City Gold Paper Cups, $3 for 20, partycity.com. Big Party Pack Orange Beverage Napkins, $6 for 125, partycity.com. Richland Flameless LED Tealight Candles, in White, $8 for 12, save-on-crafts.com.
Talk Turkey with Cards
Once propped up, the paper turkeys can also double as place cards and napkin rings. Simply poke a hole through the center of the turkey, accordion-fold a paper napkin, and thread it through to create the look of a fanned out tail.
Shop Now: Big Party Pack Vanilla Cream Beverage Napkins, $6 for 125, partycity.com.
Treats with a Twist
Miller is well-known for her whimsical illustrations; here, they personalize the kids table. Paper cups filled with candy and popcorn become ships when you adorn them with Mayflower sails. Simply print and cut out the template, attach it to a skewer, then stand it in a cup full of treats.
Shop Now: Oriental Trading Mini Scalloped Gold Snack Containers, $12.59 for 50, orientaltrading.com.
Dig Into Desserts
They also serve as adorable toppers. Simply attach the clip-art—turkeys, pilgrims, sailing ships, and baked pies—to skewers and place them in cupcakes and other treats. They're presented on a pedestal, which is embellished in the same paper-punched gold trim as the other tabletop elements.
Shop Now: Mosser Glass Cake Plate, in Milk Glass, 12", $75, onekingslane.com.
On the Menu
Menu cards are a fun way to let guests know what's to come. You can also add personal touches, like identifying which courses are family recipes.
Shop Now: Paper Presentation Classic Crest Paper, in Natural White, 8 1/2 x 14, $10 for 50 sheets, paperpresentation.com. Thompson Chocolate Milk Chocolate Autumn Leaves, $6.49, thompsonchocolate.com.
Coloring for the Kids
Print these easy place mats and ask kids to write what they're thankful for. (You can also print the black-and-white version so kids can color the place mat themselves—an extra activity to keep them busy during the meal.)
Shop Now: Melissa and Doug Triangular Crayons, $6 for 24, melissaanddoug.com.