Monday, December 1, 2014

Setting the Table is my Favorite Part

My favorite part of any dinner party is setting the table, which is funny because we never made a big deal of it growing up. Except for Thanksgiving and Christmas when mom brought out her china. She has a floral print, platinum band pattern that is beautiful, I always looked forward to holidays with this china and couldn't wait for my own. When I was looking to buy my second house, having a formal dining room was number one on the list, a non-negotiable. I could not wait to have a large dining room table and a china cabinet full of china - all kinds. My first set of china was gifted to me by my Aunt Lanita and my Grandmother - it was my Grandmother's china and is a beautiful soft pink floral pattern that I use for Easter. After finally having a dining room of my own I started buying Christmas china - the Lenox Holly pattern. While both are beautiful, neither was fitting for Thanksgiving, and since Tommy Thompson and I were hosting Thanksgiving at our house, Thanksgiving china was needed. Such a holiday could not be served on everyday plates - right?

I think setting the table for a party sets the tone for the entire meal (next to the invitation, I'll save my love of invites, envelopes and mail for a later post). A half-hazard table setting says you can't bother with the details of the table, what did you not bother with for the meal? Presentation is everything with food - just like judging a book by it's cover, if the meal doesn't look appetizing you won't eat it. There are so many ways to dress up a table for little to no expense and the added bonus is they make guests feel special. Not to mention the traditions they help create and pass down (I'm coming after your china mom).

World Market had exactly what I was looking for for turkey day, I just couldn't justify spending the money. Until I remembered that I had a bar stool still in it's box from 10th and Wash that needed to be returned... perfect! I waited until the plates were 20% off ($6.99 to $5.60) then returned the bar stool and got all 12 turkey plates, two table runners, a few odds and ends for the big meal and only paid 20 cents. It felt like I stole them. Since the plates were only 8" they needed a large plate underneath. Enter IKEA. I found 11" orange plates that matched the orange on the turkey plates perfectly and the contrast from the cream to the orange highlighted the scalloped edge of the smaller plates beautifully. The Fargrik plates (they must have a lot of fun naming items at IKEA) were $2.49 each but... I found the same plates in the clearance section for $1.99 each (hey, every bit counts) so my new Thanksgiving china cost me all of $24.00 plus tax.

The plates mixed with old fashioned juice glasses and gold silverware created the perfect mix of fancy and farmhouse - but I needed more gold (who doesn't???), and I needed place cards. I found a tutorial on Pinterest to make the quintessential Thanksgiving piece - the wishbone. I bought crayola air dry clay and molded 12 wishbones, cutting a small slit for them in the top to hold the place card. After letting them dry overnight I spray painted them gold and voila - individual wish bone place cards and more gold. Pinterest win. (tutorial here)

Now for the Pinterest fail... the menu cards. I am a firm believer that formal dinners require cloth napkins, and IKEA has the perfect napkin for fancy farmhouse. At 79 cents the Tekla towel  is cheap enough to stock up on and they bonus as dish towels after their first use as napkins since I loathe ironing. I found a tutorial on Pinterest on using Citrasolve to transfer paper printed images to cloth and was beyond excited to not just have menu cards at Thanksgiving but cloth menu cards. I printed the menu, followed all the instructions and as I lifted the paper from the napkin... nothing. I felt like Clark Griswold after the entire family came out and gave him a drum roll to light the house and... nothing. Add in the fact that Tommy Thompson was sitting at the table in anticipation of yet another silly Pinterest project... and it failed. I sent the menu to my mother to print thinking her ink would be the correct type, nothing. I would not give up. I sent the menu to our local Kinko's and had it printed on the two printers they had. The first (which was now my third attempt) garnered nothing and the fourth, my last try, yielded a faint and impossible to read menu. Pinterest fail. (tutorial here) Side note: I believe that had the napkin fabric been a tighter weave and had I not been printing a small font the image would've transferred through the copies made at the self-serve printer at Kinko's. 

Even without menu cards this year's Thanksgiving table setting was by far my favorite. Maybe it was the plates but I think it was more to do with the beautiful home I share with Tommy Thompson and the Little One and how much I have to be thankful for this year.

We woke up bright and early to get the turkey in the roaster then enjoyed mimosas and quick breads with my mom, daddy Jack and Chris then ten of us celebrated daddy Paul's birthday over turkey dinner and chocolate bacon cake. I hope you had a fabulous thanksgiving as well!

Never mind the paper plates for dessert... ;)