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Small changes can make big impact at Thanksgiving table

  • McClatchy-Tribune
  • Published Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at 2:20 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, at 8:15 a.m.

A Thanksgiving table can be a lot like the family sitting around it. For example, there’s the “Brady Bunch” table: the coming together of two serving-ware patterns. Or the “Modern Family” ensemble: an eclectic and quirky combination of dishware and decor. Or the ever-recognizable “Duck Dynasty” spread: a pairing of nature elements and cozy familiarity. Whatever shape, size or type of family graces your table this Thanksgiving, the following tips are sure to help make it a meal to remember.

Boost your dishes

With so many family and friends, and often so little time, how can a host make the most out of a Thanksgiving table? Instead of reinventing the wheel (or table), Aimee Beatty, in-house stylist for Pier 1 Imports (www.pier1.com), suggests supplementing existing dishware with new items. “Try introducing colors to match with plates you already own,” Beatty said.

Jenna Pizzigati, founder and owner of Pizzigati Designs – ecochic interiors, www.pizzigatidesigns.com – recommends combining colors that will boost an autumn aura. “Try using chocolate brown with pops of white or aubergine and highlights of burnt orange.”

Once a popular liquid-serving dish in the 19th century, the charger, or large plate underneath the dinner plate, has become another creative and typically cost-effective way to dress up a dish. “Chargers are great for creating a unique table setting, and there are lots of designs and colors to fit any style, from casual to elegant,” Beatty said. “They can also be easily matched to existing dinnerware collections.”

Use what you have

When it comes to decor, Beatty recommends keeping it simple. “Start with a nice table runner and serving ware that is unique and dynamic, and then layer in candles and small decorations,” Beatty said. “Purchasing new centerpieces or focal decor items can update the look and feel of a table.”

For a casual and laid-back ambiance, seek decor from your own backyard. “Using nature to accent your holiday table is an easy and effective way to embellish your table,” Pizzigati said. “In-season pumpkins and gourds are easily accessible and give your setting a fun burst of fall color.”

If fall foliage isn’t at your fingertips, search your linen closets and kitchen cupboards. “Use traditional elements such as candle holders and vases in an unconventional way,” Pizzigati said. “Use candle holders as pedestals for mini-pumpkins and gourds, or fill vases with colorful autumn leaves.”

Or try placing a few Ball mason jars from the Ball Heritage Collection in the center of the table with a candle, flowers or twigs inside.

Small additions can go a long way. “Simple changes can make a big impact,” Beatty said. “Use small statement pieces to spruce up the table, like new napkin rings or table runners.”

Beyond the table

Accent other spaces in your house in harmony with the theme of your table.

“Make a first impression that captures your guests’ attention,” Beatty said. “This can be as simple as dressing up the entryway with a wreath, decorative pumpkins or other Thanksgiving-themed decor.”

For large gatherings, the addition of a buffet table can be yet another opportunity to extend a Thanksgiving theme. “Depending on the size of the table, it can be decorated elaborately or simply to match the main table,” Beatty said. “Mix and match serving dishes with centerpieces to make a bold statement.”

Subtle seasonal scents can further enhance the atmosphere of a room.

The kids’ table

Many a Thanksgiving event includes at least one child, or 12. If you’re providing the notorious kids’ table, try to make it one they’ll never forget.

Beatty suggests using an ornament tree, like Pier 1’s glitter pumpkin ornament tree ($17.95, pier1.com), for a kids’ table centerpiece. “Fill it with ornaments children can choose from as their take-home party favors.”

“For an educational twist, use a map as a tablecloth,” Pizzigati said. “Use a Mayflower for the centerpiece and have kids trace the route of the pilgrims.”

You can also buy chalkboard placemats for doodling – a creative diversion for little hands during that long wait until it’s time to eat. Good for big holiday meals – or every day. They’re $36 for four (with chalk) online at bafriend.net.

Name cards

For an added personal touch to your table, provide simple or decorative name cards for your guests. Mini-pumpkins and pine cones can be used for sturdy and ornamental card anchors. Or tie name cards around individual candles for your family and friends to take home.

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