It’s the second most wonderful time of the year. I jest; Thanksgiving isn’t second to anybody, at least not for me. It’s all the family, all the food, and all the gratefulness, without the embarrassing consumerism that can be Christmas. It’s boots crunching on the newly fallen leaves…more every day. It’s the smell of something always in the oven and (if you’re lucky) children laughing (or screaming). However, the privilege of hosting such an anticipated day can come with some head-scratchers. For instance, how do I create a festive dining experience that’s not overwrought or silly looking? After all, this is not really a Party City sort of holiday. The kids get each other and all their just desserts. What about the adults? We want, perhaps, a little elegance; something mood enhancing? Here are some heartfelt guidelines, most of them are our own and some are inspired by other generous hosts…
- Incorporate the natural fall flora and fauna of your region. This is as easy as well, pumpkin pie. Sorry. But, why go out and purchase mass produced “fall” décor only to tire of it next year or even worse, have it fall apart. You can have a fresh inimitable centerpiece every year, and assembling these gems is half the fun, so get foraging! This simple activity gets me really jazzed; maybe you could take a hike with friends or family and make it a sort of hunt for your own singular fall foliage bouquet? We do this every year in my family.
- Use family heirlooms or antiques as a vessel for your freshly foraged centerpiece. If you’re lucky enough to have some of Mom’s old silver or a porcelain vase or two then by all means use that. Also, If you haven’t polished in a while that’s fine, we like a little patina actually; although, I’m sensing a older and wiser generation uprising as I type this. They are two disparate looks and we don’t have to choose, right? Still, it feels important to have a piece of your family with you, especially if they can’t be there to help you celebrate. You can and should also try to use your antique candelabras or china, but what if you’re woefully lacking in these areas? I will say, if there was ever a time to buy these luxuries it would be a happily indulgent holiday like Thanksgiving. You can easily tie this in with some more casual cutlery. Remember that this is Thanksgiving and should be an extravagance. Why not bring out all the bells and whistles. Now’s the time to go full tilt. Additionally, you won’t be throwing out a beautiful antique in two years like you may with something made in China.
Below and Left: 1. French 19th century old Paris 33 piece dessert service, 2. French old Paris coffee pot and cups w/saucers, 3. French Limoges 62 piece dinner set, 4. French limoges 56 piece dinner set, 5. French Limoges gilt coffee service
Above and Right:1. English 19th Century Warming Plate, 2. English 19th Century Blue &White Stattfordshire Platter, 3. French 19th Century Faience Platter, 4. English 19th Century Jackfield Hen on Nest Tureen, 5. French 19th century Epine & oval platter by Sarreguemines, 6. Pair of 18th Century Tole Champagne Buckets
- Choose a color palette that’s rich and evocative of the holiday in question. Potent ambers, deep greens, decadent reds, etc. For centuries, rich colors in the dining room have been a way to whet or restore the appetite and certainly, they bring a much desired warmth to design. These dramatic hues will definitely whip up some holiday fervor.
- Try dining Al Fresco. If you live in the Deep South you’re not looking at me as strangely. It’s actually near perfect weather at this time for us, if yet sometimes, even still, a little warm. When you dine outside the entire season colludes to ornament your party. You’ll obviously want to check the weather reports. Aunt Pam would be sunk (pun intended) if she had to get her wedges out in the mud. But really guys, this is my favorite idea out there. What could possibly measure up to an outdoor canopy of starlight? I can see you now traipsing through the brush with your one of a kind antique candelabras. If you want to be really modern you can have each guest grab a chair. You will want to get your hands on some lanterns to illuminate the path to your secret fete.
Photo Courtesy of Kha Do Photography, Photo and Styling by Camille Styles
- Keep the ‘eye’ moving…remember? Let’s move that discerning eye up. Your chandeliers are the jewelry of your dining room and they are pretty enough on their own but if you want to stick in line with the rustic seasonal feel, we recommend weaving a bit of greenery through them as well. I would do this first because you’ll need to watch for some debris and then do a little tidying up after. You want your decorations to surprise and delight and this is such an easy way to do just that.
We wish you the very best Thanksgiving this year, from our family at Fireside Antiques to yours. Please visit us at our website, which is updated daily or give us the pleasure of a personal visit over at: 14007 Perkins Rd. Baton Rouge, LA 70810