A week to 10 days prior to Thanksgiving I take a mental inventory of all our dishware and decide what sets I'd like to use. Then I layout the selected dinnerware and choose the serving pieces that best coordinate while also complimenting the items on our menu. From napkins and dinner plates to table covers to place cards, this is where the things really start to come together.
I personally like to start by setting out my dishware while I think about what napkins and table covers I'd like to use. This year I already knew I wanted to use the cranberry-colored dishes from our downstairs kitchenette as well as some Williams-Sonoma mushroom-colored dishes from our daily dishware set. The problem with the later was that the set had long been discontinued and I only had 7 dinner plates remaining. Ebay to the rescue. Score!
As I searched for the plate replacements online, I of course just HAD to peruse the Williams-Sonoma site, where I found the most fabulous bird-themed dishware collection. They had to be mine. I also snagged the matching butter dish and gravy boat. Perfection. I justified this splurge by telling myself they could be used for many other occasions, like when we have a post-grouse-hunting feast. I'm always happy to find another excuse to entertain!
Since my dining-room decor is primarily green, I generally go with white linens. It just pops so nicely against the dark wood of the table while not clashing with the wall color. I felt the need to add a rustic touch touch to coordinate with the new plates, so added this lovely hemp table runner, which I ended up using on both of our tables.
Once the napkins and dishware are all set (pun intended), I focus on the place cards. This is one of my favorite elements. It's an opportunity to get creative and add your own personal touch. I love using natural elements, particularly herbs this time of year.
Since I'm a paper and ribbon addict, I have lots to choose from. I also have a wonderful resource, Anchor Paper Express, not too far from where I live. For the place cards, i decided to use Curious White Gold 80# text paper, which I also used for the coordinating menu cards. It has a lovely golden gleam that adds a warm glow to anything you create with it. My graphic design and organizational skills make this an easy job: I have a digital file saved with all the names for each side of our family. All I need to do it open it, make any necessary changes (names, fonts, colors), then print, crop and I'm on my way.
Once I have the actual place cards in hand, it's time for embellishment. To bring in a touch of color, I added a grommet to each place card vs simply using a paper punch.
I had some lovely coppery ribbon that added to the metallic theme nicely. A slip knot attached the ribbon to the place card, followed by a simple knot with the loose ends.
I had some faux leaves, saved from years past, that made a nice addition.
Voila! Unique place cards that match my theme.
On to menu cards. I typically print out one large menu and display it on an embellished easel, but this year I was longing for a change. I found it one day when I was leafing through a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living. I believe they offered a template online, but I chose not to use it because I know how to create my own and, frankly, I like to have control over layout, font, etc. In the future I'll work on putting up some free templates with the designs I feature so you can more easily replicate the look.
The menu cards were printed on the same golden paper as the place cards and were cropped to 3.5x6". I then added a backer that was 1/2-inch bigger on each side, so 4.5x7" finished, using Curious Cognac 111# cover paper and Mono Multi Liquid Glue.
And there you have it! Finished place cards with a coordinating menu card. How do you decorate your place settings? Are you a menu card fan? Share your ideas in the comments section.
In my next post I'll take you through another of my favorites: the tablescape.