Submitted by Kathleen Wilson
Thanksgiving is a special time in our homes, when we all take a little time to appreciate the gifts and blessings in our lives. My number one blessing, as yours, is my family and friends. So let's find some great ways to make your home a warm, inviting place this Thanksgiving for all your loved ones, including you!
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Use a natural theme. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people spend big bucks trying to glitz up this holiday. It's about the harvest; being thankful for this beautiful earth we live on, and the wonderful food we are so blessed to be given. So let's celebrate that. It also happens to be a great way to decorate on a small budget. Bring nature into your home, and be thankful!
Most people just focus on the table for Thanksgiving decorating, and while that is indeed important, don't forget to bring the beauty of autumn splendor into other areas of your home.
Some quick ideas include picking up some silk garlands (right now they are on clearance to make room for Christmas stuff, check your craft store) of autumn colors and drape them over doorways, windows, mantels, and artwork or mirrors. Collect leaves on your next walk in the neighborhood, and then press between paper towels and a book. Because they were already drying outdoors and were low on moisture, this will only take a few days. Now use your leaves to sprinkle over the hearth, the countertops, under candle displays, under glass top tables, tuck into picture frame edges, make them a picture in a frame. You get the idea.
Gourds anyone? These are a wonderful traditional decoration, but here's a little money-saving tip. If you have produce stands near your home, these are much cheaper than the grocery stores for gourds, squashes, and pumpkins. Don't limit yourself to the little mini ones, pile full size versions next to your front door, line a windowsill, fill baskets or fill the planter boxes or a wheelbarrow on the porch with great harvest vegetables!
Consider setting out simple ceramic or wooden bowls lined with a pretty cloth napkin or scrap fabric, and fill with some treasures from your next nature walk. Texture abounds with natural elements, and will warm up a tablescape, a coffee table, and a fireplace hearth. Try getting out the hot glue gun and affixing your items to the candles you packed away at the first sign of summer. Small glass jars make great votive holders when dressed up with a few pressed leaves and acorns. Fill a bowl or plate with goodies around large pillar candles and use as a centerpiece.
If you can't find enough natural material near your home, check out the bulk grain section at your supermarket. Fall is about harvest, so any grain can be used to add that element to your home. Even cracked corn meant for the bird feeder can look great in a jar as a base for a candle.
Now, we aren't going to forget the Thanksgiving table! This is your opportunity to show your loved ones how important it is to you that they are sharing your table this year. If you don't have tablecloths, pick up a couple of green or gold sheets from Wal-Mart or a discount store for less than $3. You can even layer a couple of them if you wish. Don't feel shy about pressing coffee tables or card tables into service if you need more room, just use those cheap sheets! If you run out of chairs, push a table up to a couch on one long side, and you will only need chairs for the other side.
Set your table with all your dishware. It doesn't matter if it all doesn't match, or you had to borrow salad plates from a neighbor. Just keep the arrangement of each place setting the same, and it will tie it all together. For instance, dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, repeat with next place setting. Distribute the different styles of dishware evenly throughout the tables, much the same as you would do with accent colors in a room.
Use cloth napkins, fold them into accordion pleats and place them in the water glasses. Don't have cloth napkins? One twin flat sheet, a pair of scissors and some iron on hem tape (you could sew hems if you prefer) and you will have elegant napkins you can use again and again. A good size is 18x18 inches.
The highlight of the event? Your centerpiece of course! This is where your creativity comes most into play. Keep the centerpiece low so that guests can easily converse. I know many designers make beautiful tablescapes on lifts, and talk about height in an arrangement, but aren't the people what it's all about?
Use your nature theme, gather up some pretty dishes and pitchers, and pick some fall flowers or grasses from the yard. Pile up gourds on platters, fill bowls with nuts and insert a pillar candle, add pretty dried grasses to a wonderful vase, use bowls of apples, lemons, or limes. Take small bunches of flowers, wrap a wet paper towel and some plastic wrap around the stems, and insert randomly into the bowls of produce. Float some mum flower heads in a clear bowl of water, or add some greenery between the other items on the table.
Experiment with what you have available, what is affordable in your area, and what creates warmth in your heart. Try things several different ways, until you find a combination you like.
Above all, remember this is not about impressing others; it is about making a statement about how much you care they are in your home, and in your life. Enjoy your family, enjoy being creative while saving lots of cash, and enjoy the beauty of nature. And give thanks.
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Copyright © 2004 by Kathleen Wilson. All rights reserved.