Thanksmas Entertaining

Ever wanted to throw a fall dinner party that isn’t a full-on Thanksgiving or host something the weekend after Thanksgiving, when, in your mind, it is still a bit too early to decorate for Christmas?  If you’re like me, who celebrates the bountiful holiday at someone else’s home, you have all of these beautiful gourds and pumpkins that haven’t yet their moment in the spotlight.  So, what’s a girl to do for decor between major holidays?  Try mixing some silvers and purples into your existing fall color scheme and see what you get.  You might be pleasantly surprised!

This table setting was inspired by some clearance napkins I found at Cost Plus World Market in the summer (again, the key to entertaining thriftily is thinking ahead and always being on the lookout for deals!).  They have a gorgeous mix of plum, deep purple, natural white, burnt orange and woodsy browns:

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When I saw the napkins, I immediately thought of the plum table runners I’d made for my wedding a few years earlier that were still sitting in storage at my in-law’s house.  Since I prefer to use placemats as opposed to runners, I thought, how easy would it be to convert a few of these gorgeous runners (that I’ll almost never use again) into placemats?  Even if you don’t have table runners that you no longer have a need for, it is quite easy to make your own placemats, since they are basically two rectangles sewn together!

What you’ll need:

fall thanksgiving centerpiece ideas crafts tablescapes place settings entertaining

  • 1.25 yards of interesting, textural fabric (I used a weave from Ikea)
  • 1.25 yards of plain backing fabric (I used a simple broadcloth from Joann’s)
  • matching thread
  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • long ruler or measuring tape

Here’s what you do:

  1. Iron material prior to cutting.
  2. Pin fabric together.
  3. Cut out six 13×19 rectangular pieces out of pinned fabric (if your fabric is the standard 45″ you should be able to measure 19″ from the end, then cut out three 13″ pieces with ~6″ of  leftover scrap, repeat a second time for a total of six placemats).
  4. Thread machine with matching thread and sew 3 sides of rectangle with 1/4 – 1/2 inch margin.
  5. On fourth side, start from one end and stitch until left with a 3 inch unstitched area.
  6. Turn fabric out and iron edges.
  7. Turn unstitched area in and sew closed (you could also do this by hand with an invisible stitch, if you wanted, though it takes longer).

fall thanksgiving centerpieces craft ideas entertaining tablescapes place settings

Now for the centerpieces!  I was inspired to make something fun when I saw some Styrofoam balls that I found at Tuesday Morning for much less than craft store retail prices.  What I ended up doing was using a combination of things I had (excess muslin from previous craft projects, twine, and Indian corn husks) and new materials (preserved leaves and dried pinto beans) to create natural-looking, fall-into-winter centerpieces.  All of my materials incorporated colors that are in the napkins.

Here’s what you need:

  • two sizes of Styrofoam balls (Tuesday Morning or retail craft stores)
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • scissors
  • craft spray glue
  • preserved leaves (Michael’s)
  • jute twine (Big Lots or 99 Cent Store)
  • muslin (retail craft store or Walmart)
  • purple Indian corn husks (local grocery store in produce section)
  • 2 bags dried pinto beans (Big Lots $1 per bag)
  • galvanized or silver rectangular trays (I used my trusty tart pans again!)

Here’s what you do:

for leaves:

fall thanksgiving centerpieces craft ideas entertaining tablescapes place settings

  1. Remove leaves from their stems.
  2. Use hot glue gun to secure leaves to styrofoam ball in an overlapping fashion until ball is covered.  In my example, on one large and one small ball, I displayed the waxy side of the leaf and on another two, I displayed the underside.

for muslin:

fall thanksgiving centerpieces craft ideas entertaining tablescapes place settings

  1. Rip fabric into 1-inch strips
  2. Cut strips into 1×1 inch squares
  3. Use hot glue gun to secure fabric squares to ball in overlapping fashion until ball is covered.

for corn husks:

  1. Remove purple corn husks from Indian corn, being careful not to tear or rip the husks.
  2. To soften and use the inner, shiny side of the husk, heat some water to boiling in a tea kettle and lay husks over opening to relax leaves with steam.
  3. Use hot glue gun to apply corn husks to styrofoam ball in an overlapping fashion until ball is covered.

for twine:

fall thanksgiving centerpieces craft ideas entertaining tablescapes place settings

  1. Secure twine to one pole of styrofoam ball with hot glue.
  2. Apply craft spray glue in sections and wrap twine around styrofoam ball.
  3. Once ball is completely wrapped, secure end of twine to opposite pole with a spot of hot glue.

Note: As you move from a smaller diameter to a bigger one, this wrapping is easy.  However, as you hit the equator and start to move from a larger diameter to a smaller one, this craft can become frustrating as the twine will want to roll toward the smaller diameter pole.  Have patience, or if you don’t, you can always snip, glue end and start wrapping from the opposite pole and have your twine meet in the middle.  I prefer the uninterrupted look, myself.

Finally, pour pinto beans into trays and arrange your covered ball decorations to your liking!

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Spice up your Kitchen

glass spice jars

If you love being in the kitchen, you probably have a drawer or shelf full of herbs and spices that you have to sift through every time you want to cook or bake something. I’d been looking for a spice rack, but 1.) didn’t want anything that would sit on a counter, and 2.) wanted something simple and clean looking – no big black plastic lids or cheesy labels.

My husband found the perfect rack for us in the clearance section of Home Depot that would hang from our wire kitchen rack.

Williams-Sonoma has really nice cylindrical, glass spice jars for $18 for 12. The price was not terrible for what I wanted (and I’m a sucker for anything from WS), but I hate paying shipping and this set was not available in stores.

Then I went to Cost Plus – another one of my favorite home everything stores – and found similar glass jars with silver lids for 99 cents each. Deal!

DYMO LetraTag LT-100H

I do like the look of labeled spices and, honestly, I’m not sure I’m good enough of a cook to remember every spice simply by looking at it or smelling it . So I went to Target and purchased a label maker (on sale, of course!) and clear label tape and made my own labels! As an aside, label makers are amazing for identifying boxes in the garage – invest in one to make your life more organized!

Shopping Tip: I have found the best prices on everyday, household spices at 99 cent Stores, Big Lots, Target, and Walmart. For harder to find spices, try Cost Plus, Trader Joes or local ethnic grocery stores.


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