Upgrade your Thanksgiving table
You've got the meal covered; that bird has never looked better. Even Ms. Martha Stewart would be a little jealous of your prowess in the kitchen, if she knew, not to mention of your effortless flair for entertaining in the living room.
But your table, well, Stewart might turn up her nose ever so slightly at the collection of odds and ends that somehow ends up on your table year after year. Short of renting formal tableware and glasses for holidays -- yes, that convenience is available -- you could use a style update for your dining room table.
Here are a few ideas:
For a formal look, neutral and white dinnerware has never been more appropriate, and feel free to mix patterns -- white-on-white polka dotted cups and saucers, check-covered soup tureens and salad bowls -- anything goes. You can't go wrong with all-white china and a simple white cloth. Or take advantage of the festive spirit and use rich colors such as gold or red. Neiman-Marcus offers yellow-dappled stemware perfect for the holidays. The in-house line runs about $28 apiece for goblets, tumblers and champagne flutes.
Casual looks also run the gamut from neutral to festive and proud. The difference is in the details. Metallic accents are popping up all over the place, on charger plates and in the edging on place mats, as well as napkin rings. Have a silly spirit? Have a little bit of fun and mix colorful plastic napkin rings or twig-shaped holders with your good china. Beadwork is also populating tables, showing up in stylized patterns on runners and place mats and adorning napkins; you can also plop down woven baskets or table mats for a natural look. You just might be pleased at how well it mixes with your existing collection of china, crystal and silverware.
Turn up the spotlight.
Skip raffia, pine cones, pumpkins and other traditional fall gimmicks. To brighten a table, add fresh chrysanthemums in white, says Janice Pechauer, of Interior Design Services. "Flowers and plants are beautiful additions to any table," said Pechauer. Carry the theme over to mantel tops and other surfaces throughout the room.
In a pinch, mix silk plants and fresh seasonal greenery for a customized look, though if you do have an extra second, customize place card holders. Write names on cream-colored heavy paper for an elegant look, or dust table in gold or yellow with a sprinkling of tea candles. For another take on candles, try lining the center of the table with glass hurricane candle holders, suggests Pechauer.
Take a novel approach.
If you have a simple centerpiece, save seasonal details for the linens or -- better yet -- dinnerware. Sure, there are napkins and tablecloths imprinted with fall-associated imagery such as acorns, leaves and pumpkins, but why not branch out? For a merry addition to the dinner table, Crate & Barrel, for starters, offers earthenware plates with an autumn touch: salad plates shaped like pressed leaves in shades of green, brown, russet and cream. Leaf plates are $32.95 through crateandbarrel.com.
Don't get out the china.
Rules are made to be broken. This year, skip the porcelain and reach for earthenware. "Formal china is just so expensive," says Pechauer. "Now there's more pottery dishes available, and they have a nice look. ... We don't live in such formal times anymore." And if it's good enough for Stewart: The entertainment maven herself offers easy-care ceramics through the Martha Stewart Everyday line, practical enough for everyday use from October through November. Or stock up on new looks in dense, durable earthenware at department stores. Glass dinnerware and serving pieces are another alternative to china. Sit back and enjoy the real reason to gather: breaking bread with friends and family.