Autumn in our Hudson Valley always brings on an abundant harvest to be thankful for. It signifies that time of year when the coming together of our families, spills over with a cornucopia of blessings, and expressions of our gratitude on Thanksgiving Day.
When we fill our tables with family, food, and refreshment, the one thing that might be missing is a centerpiece. My niece, (our EIC Andrea Graye), asked me if I like creating table decorations/centerpieces with flowers, foliage, etc. for the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day. I do, I have, and there are an array of ideas to tell you about!
As I reminisce about my Thanksgiving tables gone by, there is one that I hold dear to my heart: my Italian grandmother’s long, rectangular table! She would scatter different sized bowls, from yellow-ware to crystal, down the center of the table, and fill them with fruits, nuts, and condiments, such as tangerines, grapes, mixed nuts in their shells, figs, lupines, olives, and cranberry sauce. Having these healthy treats to snack on while waiting for the main course made for a lot of happy people….that, and a few bottles of wine rounded out her table! An added option for more ambiance to her centerpiece above would be to mingle in a few tapered candles or bud vases with a single flower.
If your table is round, use a lazy susan or pedestal cake plate for your centerpiece. Place a candle, flowers in a vase, or a bottle of wine in the middle and surround it with your harvest.
When my children were young, school taught them the significance of Thanksgiving Day with everything from the Pilgrims to Cornucopias (the horn of plenty that symbolizes abundance). So a few times, at our table, we displayed our own bounty in a Cornucopia (a horn shaped wicker basket), filled with vegetables, fruit, and nuts. We then embellished it with ornamental Indian corn, a symbol of the Fall harvest season.
Other things from nature that can be used for your centerpiece are colorful gourds, miniature pumpkins, and fresh cranberries. Fill a glass pedestal trifle bowl (or any glass bowl will do) with an assortment of these, or line the center of your table with a mixture of pillar candles and pumpkins and surround them with anything I mentioned above.
If a floral arrangement is more to your liking, arrange a bouquet of flowers (grocery stores are a great place to buy these because they have pretty arrangements at affordable prices) and foliage in autumn colors of red, orange, and yellow in your favorite vase or decorative pitcher. If you prefer a neutral pallet use white and green. Add berries and mini pumpkins on a stick. Just push a wooden skewer into the bottom of the pumpkin (you might need an ice pick to start the hole for the skewer to go in) and place into the vase or pitcher among the flowers, then add some candles to the table. Another idea would be cutting the top off a small pumpkin and cleaning out the seeds and pulp. Place a small glass or vase, half filled with water, into the pumpkin and add your flowers.
Something a little more personal for your family/guests is to set any type of small vessels (such as a crystal, glass vase, or jar) next to each place setting, and add some water and a flower or two. If you have a seating arrangement, prop a place card among the flowers.
If you want to showcase your food as the centerpiece like my grandmother did, and you prefer your turkey to be the center of attraction, there is certainly nothing wrong with that! In Norman Rockwell’s picture, Freedom from Want; The Thanksgiving Picture, he depicts the turkey as the crowning glory set center stage on the Thanksgiving table! bit.ly/1MEc8fV
Remember, use your imagination and try not to put pressure on yourself to be perfect. Adding a festive touch to your Thanksgiving Day table can be a pleasurable experience!
Now, on Thanksgiving Day, may we all be blessed with family and friends, and thankful for the abundance of the Autumn harvest!