Since Thanksgiving is the culmination of the harvest season, it seems only “natural” to find tabletop inspiration in nature. With a few materials and a bit of creativity, fruit, vegetables, leaves and nuts can be fashioned into charming place cards that add a personal touch to your table – even if you don’t have a lot of time.
For our American readers who will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, I collected four easy yet impact full ideas that will leave you plenty of time to socialize with guests and snack on stuffing and squash.
+ Simple is often the most sophisticated. Crisp leaves get a glittery touch by writing your guest’s names in gold ink in these two very different tabletop looks. The high contrast of sculpting your own conifers against a brown leaf – like Kate Pruitt did for Design*Sponge (top picture) – is fresh and contemporary.
The warm, tone-on-tone approach of writing the name on a simple leaf is more suitable for a casual gathering with friends.
+ Pinecones and acorns are in abundance at this time of year. Pair them with a note of gratitude – either handwritten or printed on card stock – for a thoughtful place card option.
+ Miniature pumpkins are a versatile option for festive Thanksgiving decorating. Use a harvest-hued marker to write guest names on chic miniature white pumpkins, they layer them at each setting with a pretty napkin and scatter a few leaves. Alternatively, guests can claim their spot at the table with personalized flags created from festive ribbon or card stock. Cut them to size, glue them to a toothpick and stick in a gourd or pumpkin.
+ Finally, the Pilgrim caps were done by painting terracotta flowerpots.
+ Clay Conifer Placecard from Design*Sponge
+ Leaf Placecard from Sunset Magazine
+ DIY Pinecone Placecard Tutorial from Honey We’re Home
+ Felted Acorn Placecards from Southern Living
+ Ribbon Placecards from Better Homes and Gardens
+ Pilgrim Cap Place Cards from Better Homes and Gardens
Custom designed paper goods like invitations are typically the first piece of an event puzzle. In addition to all the necessary details – like when and where – they also provide guests with the first taste of an event’s theme and formality. But, like most things custom, personalized printing often comes with a hefty price tag.
That’s why we loved this clever hand printing technique from Christine Schmidt, co-founder of the San Francisco-based design studio Yellow Owl Workshop.
With just a few supplies, including a blender pen, transparency sheets and access to a color photocopier, it’s easy to create your own customized invitations. This project works for any type of event and is a great way to boost your Thanksgiving dinner or Holiday party theme.
You’ll find instructions on the process from Sunset magazine – plus templates for placecards, an invitation and wrapping paper featuring these lovely vintage-looking fruit and veggie graphics.
+ Hand Printing Instructions from Sunset Magazine
+ Download the placecard template
+ Download the invitation template
+ Download the wrapping paper template
+ Yellow Owl Workshop
Stamps are ideal to create unique invitations and place cards. Looking at the latest collection of Yellow Owl Workshop gave me the urge to host a BBQ with old-fashioned outdoor activities, to host a tea party with my girlfriends or if you are really romantic, you could invite the love of your life for a weekend in Paris or in the Big Apple.
Experiment by creating several scenes on regular sheets of paper cut the same size of your good paper. Buy a few extra of the good paper. You can complement the scene with your own drawing or a big text. I suggest that you buy several colors of ink to give you a chance to try different palette.
+ Yellow Owl Workshop Stamp Set starts at $11.50 USD
If you have a little time on your hands, consider crafting a gingerbread cottage place cards for each of your guests. The gingerbread house stands on its own.
With the right cut on the card, you can simply deposit the place card on the roof. Whatever technique you used, make sure to not cut the gingerbread cottage. This way, next year you could use them for a village vignette. You could make a few extra cottages and spread them along the table as centerpieces.
Learn how to make a basic gingerbread cottage on Kate’s Paperie. If you feel like it, you can cut and glue holiday decorations to fill the inside of the house.
+ photos: Kate’s Paperie
The best hostess knows that it is up to her to find ways for her guests to interact. When you host a big event, you cannot be there to introduce everyone. To avoid awkward moments or to explore new conversation topics, why not plan a conversation starter game. With games that look as great as those ones, everyone will want to participate.
The three games I selected involved some do it yourself tasks. You probably have recognized her style. You will find the detailed set of instructions on Martha Stewart Weddings site.
I Knew you when…
During cocktail hour, each guest sticks a flag where they written their name into the year she met either the bride or groom. I imagine doing this at a milestone birthday party. Everyone later share how they met. Since you need something that you have no problem pinning the flag, ask the print shop for an oversize print to be mounted on foam board. It will be a nice souvenir for the guest(s) of honor.
Change is Good
You put vintage coins on a cute box wrapped with a ribbon. Each guest opens their box. One by one they tell the story of something good that happens to them on the year of the coins. Shown here are the chic Semikolon gift boxes. I bought the same collection to neatly store my magazines.
This is a game that will occupy the kids. Equipped with their own portable or digital camera, the kid who took a picture of the most challenges on the list win. This is why I think a cheap digital camera will work best for this game. It is called I spy but it could have be named I shot.
DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS FOR:
+ I Knew you when – including
+ Change is Good
+ I Spy
This is my daily collection of noteworthy stuff that I saw online.
+ You should never underestimate the value of colors to fresh up a room or to hide outdated fixtures. Then, let the accessories take a leading role. Look at how the stylists of Real Simple succeed in rescuing bathrooms with 1950s tile or a 70s sink. Via anh-minh
+ Twelve days ago, we had to let go our very old cat because he was too sick. My husband and I are deciding what race of cat we would prefer for a sister or brother to our Bengal cat. We are considering the Abyssinian cats. The cat in the bookcase is taken from the house tour pictures of the mid-century house where artist Matte Stephens Dave of GrainEdit lives with his wife and their cat. My confusion came from the fact that Dave interviewed Matte Stephens earlier in August. Sorry about that Dave! Matte designed the owl placemat and the monster placemat for Modern-Twist. I own both and I adored them. Via More Ways to Waste Time
+ If you are looking for place cards for a dinner party or a shower, the Etsy seller everyjotandtittle designed cute Have a Seat tags. She does all kinds of cute tags and labels to bring fun and function to your agenda, calendar and gifts. Via daisy chain
+ Look at the curious game of chess at the Lomas de Tzununá hotel, in Tzununá, by Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. It is so a propos with my Alice in Wonderland birthday theme. Photo by Amiran White for The New York Times
+ Finally, you can see Quynh of QlinArt and me shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables at Atwater market
I will watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics in bed before falling asleep. My husband and I were at a BBQ yesterday night. And the mosquitoes had us for dinner.
This week I made two boards. The first one celebrates autumn at the cottage. It reminds me of the spectacular views delivered by the Canadian forests at this time of the year.
1 | Hostess with the Mostess for New stuff at Zanisa
These natural slate boards available at Zanisa become markers. Little wooden pegs let them stand vertically or horizontally. Use a chalk to identify dishes at a buffet or use them as nameplates at your table. Pretty cool accessories for the party celebrating the end of the cottage season. These markers are from the new collection at Zanisa featured by Hostess with the Mostess this week.
2 | Shelterrific for on the table: flowers, fabric and more
I am a proud owner of similar birch tubes from Small Stump. Naturally, I am a fan. The On the table: flowers, fabric and more post displayed them all dressed up with a ribbon next to a wooden birdhouse as a table marker.
A charming setting that was realized by Angela M., the founder and editor of Shelterrific. The flowers reveal the typical Fall color palette of our forests.
3 | Housemartin for Willy Wonka’s bathtub
Some great modern vases are styled against vintage, rusty tools. I like the textured wooden vases filled with wild flowers. These pictures are from the Autumn Winter 2007 / 2008 catalogue of Zara Home in Europe.
About Willy Wonka’s bathtub, it is quite industrial. Not really what I have in mind when it came to a bathroom design.
I should publish my second weekly mood board featuring posts from other bloggers tomorrow Monday.
Buy online: Slate markers at Zanisa – price: $16 USD for 10
Buy online: genuine birch bark tube mini-set tubes from Small Stump – sold out
Buy online: Autumn Winter 2007-08 Catalogue at Zara Home
Tonight I leave you with a set of inspirational shots. I took it from The Knot Web site. You can reuse these ideas for any milestone party. It gives me the chance to tell you a few design secrets.
Place cards and table-number centerpiece
The top left picture is so simple and beautiful. Start with a well designed printed table identifier tag. Do not hesitate to hire a graphic designer and to personalize designer tags. You can glue on both sides the printed label on a white foam core. Finish the top with a nice satin ribbon. I will insert a green flower tip to have more flexibility in fixing it into the grass. Select the style of the container to fit with the rest of your table décor. Voilà!
Fruits or vegetables make lovely place cards. You probably have seen it before but I like this idea. It is usually more elegant to print the information on a colored paper in the same hue as the fruit or vegetable. The key is to use the most beautiful waxed fruits you can get. That means that it is best to not use organic food because it lacks the preservative coating.
How to distribute party favors
The middle picture on the first row is an interesting party favor. As guests left, they picked up a letter-shape sugar cookies iced in white and pink or green. On the back, the sticker closure provided the newlyweds’ new address.
Bags must always be neatly presented in a container. Here, presenting the party favors in repetitive rows on a wood tray add a touch of class. The server job is to make sure that the plan stays intact until the last party favor is distributed. In fact, you see on the previous shot how the bags become a mess if they rest without a container.
Green and pink makes a wonderful festive color combination. It can be dress up or down. A lovely idea for a girl birthday or a bridal shower is to give away flip flops as party favors. You prepare a metal bucket per sandal size. And write the number of a stick.
A touch of traditional elegance
Finally, I want to show you the pure elegance of the classical entertaining style. Even if I am a modernist, I can fall in love with traditional settings like these. You can ask your mother to borrow her stuff or hunt the antique shop to stock a few authentic pieces. There are a must for when you host a formal event.
Inspirations: Several weddings taken from the Real weddings section on The Knot Web site – you need to be a member to see them