The holidays are fast approaching, and the time to host friends and family for seasonal feasts and celebrations is near. If you are tired of using the same-old pieces to set your fall table year after year, we give you permission to try something new. Consider this: Blue isn’t a color we often think of when it comes to holiday decor, but it can look fresh and festive on your table this Thanksgiving. You can never go wrong with traditional, but something neutral and simple can be just as lovely. The kids’ table can easily be the coolest seat in the house, and the drinks and desserts are as important as the main meal.
Cristin Cooper collaborated with Mary Huddleston of Please Be Seated to create four holiday tablescapes, plus a drinks-and-dessert table fit for a fall fête. And they are teaching us a few lessons along the way! Thanks to their detailed directions and helpful tips, you can easily recreate each look at home — or, you can reuse and restyle the items in different ways throughout the fall season.
“We want entertaining to be as stress-free as possible but also as beautiful as possible,” Mary explains. “We hope our sources and custom-creations help you this year as you entertain for your own family and friends!”
Tablescape 1: Do something unexpected.
This blue-and-white tablescape gives us the much-needed nudge to forgo the traditional in favor of something unexpected for this year’s holiday get-together. Cristin and Mary let hand-painted pumpkins become the inspiration for this tablescape, which comes alive with layers of additional details. “We wanted to style tables that were versatile enough to be used throughout the fall, and not just for Thanksgiving,” Cristin shares.
If you can’t wait until Thanksgiving to try this tablescape, host an outdoor dinner party while the weather is cool and crisp. Take note of the entertaining experts’ tip to mix the pumpkins in various sizes and designs, and add a touch of orange to the table with flowers and mini pumpkins. These thoughtful details will wow your guests with a gathering they will absolutely love.
Tablescape 2: Embrace the traditional.
“We liked the idea of creating one table that would feel warm and inviting, and that you might expect to see at Thanksgiving with family and friends. However, this table also offers many layers of wonderful items that can be restyled and used throughout the fall season,” Mary tells us. The colors of the throw used in place of a traditional tablecloth are reiterated in the flowers and dishware. When it comes to setting your Thanksgiving table, classic fall and autumn hues lend themselves to a festive (and more formal) display.
One easy way to avoid additional stress during the holidays is to order flower arrangements for your dining table. “It takes the pressure off you to make something yourself and assures you will end up with something beautiful,” says Mary. Mary and Cristin also suggest a custom-designed paper suite to really impress your guests. Here, menu cards and place cards by Tenn Hens Design play up the formality of the tablescape.
Tablescape 3: Keep things neutral.
Sometimes, simply going neutral is underrated. Here, Cristin and Mary prove it has a place in everyone’s home this holiday season. Browns, creams and grays come together with touches of green for a simple, neutral holiday dining table. According to Cristin, “This neutral tablescape is incredibly versatile, can be set up indoors or outdoors, and is full of items that you’ll use over and over again, whether it be for a holiday gathering or just for a standard dinner party with friends.”
Cristin and Mary went all-in with customized paper goods — place cards, menu cards, and even invitations and wine bottle gift tags — on this tablespace, as well. When hosting an event, it is the smallest details that make the most significant impact, and your nearest and dearest deserve only the best.
Tablescape 4: Create a space for the kiddos.
Kids appreciate a good tablescape just as much as the adults do. “If you’re planning an elaborate dinner, the last thing you need is to worry about your kids knocking over the fine China while you’re dressing the turkey. Keeping little ones occupied in their own space is key, and this table is set up to do just that,” Mary advises. The opportunity to color on the tablecloth will keep the young ones entertained before and after dinner. Plus, it makes clean-up easy. With a playful look like this, everyone will be requesting a seat at the kids’ table.
“Instead of trying to keep the kids from messing with the centerpieces, we suggest creating a tablescape that is as kid-friendly as it is cute,” suggests Mary. “We finished the arrangement by anchoring the colorful runner of pumpkins and crayons with a sentimental statement centerpiece from Turkey on the Table. It’s a creative way to help your kids practice thankfulness and giving back during the holidays.”
BONUS: Pair fun drinks, appetizers and desserts with family recipes.
From the biscuits to the stuffing, Thanksgiving recipes tend to hold a special place in our hearts. Many times, these recipes have been passed through generations and are enjoyed annually alongside our loved ones. And who are we to mess with tradition?
Revisit the classics for dinner, but introduce something new before and after the meal. Mary and Cristin suggest Trisha Yearwood’s Autumn in a Cup as a pre-dinner drink served with a show-stopping cheese board. For dessert, only a pumpkin pie. You can order from Southern Baked Pie Company (SBPC) and have it shipped in time for the holiday, or you can use SBPC founder Amanda Wilbanks’ recipe and make your own.
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- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 11/4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Cut the butter into small cubes. Combine butter and flour in a mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour. Add the salt and sugar. Continue to work the butter into the flour until the mixture has a consistency of course-ground cornmeal. The cubes of butter should now be smaller than the size of a green pea.
- Add the water, all at once. Continue to work the dough until the dough begins to come together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and press into the shape of a disk. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to chill.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to desired size on a lightly floured surface.
- 1 recipe SB Pie Dough
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 2 large eggs
- 15 oz pure pumpkin
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- Preheat oven to 425. Combine sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
- Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
As a final piece of advice, Mary suggests renting items you don’t have on hand. “You don’t have to purchase all new pieces for every holiday. Rather, select a few new items to keep while using rentals for everything else,” she advises. “Plus, you don’t have to store or clean rental pieces.”
Cheers to stress-free holiday entertaining!
Event Designer: Mary Huddleston
Event Styling: Cristin Cooper
Photography: Evin Photography
Location: Nashville Farm of Sue Joyce (Founder of Turkish T)
Flowers: White Blooms Floral Co./Carre Phillips
Table, Chairs, Linen, Flatware & Glassware: Please Be Seated Rentals
Paper goods: Tenn Hens Design
Pie: Southern Baked Pie Company
Cheeseboard: The Nashville Cheese Gal
Find more recipes and entertaining tips here!