When I decided to start The Art of Living Beautifully back in April, I knew I wanted to write about a Thanksgiving tablescape. It wasn’t until recently, however, I decided to bring my favorite Thanksgiving brunch recipes to you as well. We began this tradition seven years ago with several families from our neighborhood. I think anyone can easily pick up a copy of Southern Living or Martha Stewart magazine for their gourmet interpretations of turkey and dressing, but Thanksgiving brunch is a refreshing change I hope you all will enjoy.
When setting a formal table, I typically have three goals I always work to achieve. First, I ensure each place is set properly. My mother taught me to set a formal table when I was a girl, and doing so is as important to me as the flavor of the food I serve. Every hostess must know how to set a table, but have no fear if you’re confused by which fork goes where. Emily Post to the rescue. Every hostess also needs this book!
Second, I work to create an elegant and sophisticated setting. I want my guests to feel excited about sitting at my table. Ninety nine percent of our meals are eaten on the run or even on paper plates. Don’t you feel so special at a dinner party when invited to dine at a beautiful tablescape?
And third, I never want my tables to seem stuffy or unwelcoming. Creating a formal setting that is still inviting is a bit of an art, and has everything to do with the harmonious combination of china, linens, menu and of course a warm and gracious hostess.
Setting tables is one of my favorite hobbies, and I always start with identifying a source of inspiration. For this table, the beautiful cornucopia my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday in July was the source. The Horn of Plenty is a traditional symbol of Thanksgiving, and such a representation of how blessed I feel this year. I stuffed it with colorful flower branches, curly willow sticks and fake fruit. [This is one of my quirks. I love fake food! I have no clue why, but anytime I see a good interpretation of sustenance, I’m all over it.] I sprinkled a Fall trail mix around, as if this Horn of Plenty had actually burst it was so full, and left a little dish nearby for guests to enjoy.
I also knew I wanted all of the food to be served on the table as opposed to setting up a buffet line. Well-plated food is beautiful to see, and its appropriate for all our favorite dishes to be the star of the table–especially considering this particular holiday is centered around a meal and is literally celebrated while eating. The idea of holding hands around a table, and saying a Thanksgiving blessing is heartwarming and an important part of the celebration for my family.
I chose to use white serveware as not to clash with the beautiful colors of the food. My pieces are random from over the years, but Pier 1 has lots of beautiful white serveware right now.
Regarding my linen choice, a central runner printed with a grand gentleman turkey at each end brings a bit of whimsy and charm to the setting. I knew space would be tight because of my decision to serve at the table so I decided against using placemats, but ran runners across which marked four places. For two additional seats, I used twig chargers I purchased at Patina Green several years ago. Alternating red and blue kitchen towel napkins kept the aesthetic relaxed, but still sophisticated. Don’t be concerned if not every place is exactly the same. It gives the table depth and makes it more interesting.
Each place was set with my wedding china, crystal and sterling silver. I chose white china when I married because I knew it would be versatile for any occasion, and I have never once regretted this decision. I love combining the elegant plate with the more casual linens and accent plates. Several years ago, I found the fruit plates at Pier 1 and bought four of them. The colors are perfect for Thanksgiving! I used them as well as salad plates by Blue Willow on top of the white dinner china, and ended up ADORING the mixture. Sadie has used Blue Willow as her every day pattern for as long as I can remember, so nothing says home to me as much as the Johnson Brothers’ classic. The addition of blue was a nice balance for the warmer colors of the food and linens. The decision to use the lidded pumpkin bowls from Pier 1 was the perfect final touch to our Thanksgiving Brunch Table. I wasn’t sure which color of the pumpkin bowls I loved the most…so I bought six of each! Ooops!
You know I always use place cards, and this event was no exception. Tiny sterling grapes held Thanksgiving place cards from Hobby Lobby, but there was a fun twist. I turned them around and wrote everyone’s name on the back of the card, leaving the front open for guests to note what they are thankful for this year. Such a sweet element to look across the table and see all the reasons for happiness at this year’s celebration. Below is a picture of my father’s. I love to see it written in his handwriting. This really gives life to what is written on the card.
For a typical brunch each year, we have a couple of traditions regarding food. My favorite neighbor, Laura, always makes Canadian Gravy which we serve over toasted English muffins.
An assortment of breads and muffins are always served, my favorite being White Chocolate Apricot Bread topped with mascarpone cheese. It is divine!! If you are local, I find the White Chocolate Apricot Bread at Market Street.
When deciding on the rest of my brunch menu, it occurred to me kids and adults alike enjoy sausage balls. Why don’t we try Pumpkin Sausage Balls for a Thanksgiving twist?
These Mini Fruit Cornucopias are such a fun presentation, and the Cinnamon Yogurt Dressing is bursting with flavor. Check out this Pin on my Thanksgiving Brunch Pinboard to learn an easy way to make the little “tails” curl up like a real a Cornucopia.
And of course, what brunch would be complete without a delicious Harvest Oatmeal. Throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker the night before and wake up the smell of maple syrup and brown sugar. The White Pumpkin Bowls are 20% off right now!
Oh! And what do we want to drink? Well, this time of year–really all year long–I love Neiman Marcus Spice Tea. Like a little kick with brunch? You and your guests will love some Sage Advice, an incredible craft cocktail which combines fresh sage and fresh grapefruit juice.
Elegant tables and exquisite food make our Thanksgiving celebrations fun and memorable. I hope some of these ideas give you a little inspiration when preparing for next Thursday. Follow my Thanksgiving Brunch and Thanksgiving Tablescapes Pinboards to find even more Thanksgiving inspiration!
I am thankful for all of you who so kindly take a minute to read my words each week, and hope your Thanksgiving Day tables and meals are full of color, flavor and laughter. God bless and
-ciao for now-
***I am also thankful for Patrizia Montanari with McKinney Foto for taking such exquisite pictures. XO