Simple items from linen closet, pantry and yard create warm Thanksgiving table


Holly Hendrick, Special to the KP News

Clear apothecary jars display dried beans, dent corn and popcorn, as the candle sticks, and flames add a warmth atop a natural table runner of autumn leaves. This beautiful centerpiece can be easily replicated with a few steps out your back door. Photo by Holly Hendrick

As our summer gardens go dormant, the autumn chill in the air signals the emergence of pumpkins, berries, and our evergreen favorites. November is a wonderful time to take stock of your harvest and the beauty your yard still offers.

The holidays are also a perfect opportunity to display your family heirlooms to honor your family and friends. For your Thanksgiving table this year, consider focusing on the items you harvest from your garden or yard and pair them with collected treasures from your home.

Spend 30 minutes getting reacquainted with the colors and textures your yard offers, from bare branches and hypericum berries to barberry leaves and rosehips.

When planning your tablescape, consider your resources – yard, pantry, linen closet, and curio cabinets - and pick the items that have special meaning to you or just make you happy.

Set out a line of your grandmother’s half-pint canning jars down the middle of your table and float a single dahlia or rose blossom in each, or showcase your great-grandfather’s marble collection in clear jars or glasses to reflect candlelight at the center of your table. Set each place with a different pair of your collected salt and peppershakers or cellars.

Think about your guests and table arrangement before you choose which pieces to incorporate in your design. For an intimate gathering around a small table, keep the centerpiece low and clustered for maximum impact, while maintaining the ability to converse. If you will be entertaining in a grand dining room, use the vertical space for taller arrangements set between your guests.

This year, I am choosing to display the dried beans, dent corn, and popcorn grown in our garden in my favorite apothecary jars, in a quaint English Country Store style, atop a colorful runner of fall leaves. Candles of varying heights will soften the edges and set the tone for an evening of friends, fellowship, and gratitude.

To recreate my centerpiece, gather up your ingredients: leaves from your yard, an assortment of vases, jars, or other clear containers (with or without lids), candles or votives, and dry goods from your pantry.

First, lay a dark colored, plain or tone-on-tone, tablecloth on your table. Place the leaves, overlapping a little and fluctuating between colors, along the middle of your table, in whatever shape suits your fancy - circle, rectangle, square, diamond, or other shape to create visual interest.

I like my centerpieces to have movement and do not adhere the leaves to each other. If you prefer a sleeker look, I recommend using a spray adhesive on the back of the leaves and mounting them onto a medium weight paper before placing the leaf runner on the tablecloth.

Place each container and candle in the center of your table, on top of the leaves, in an arrangement conducive for your table and guests. Then, fill each container with a single item – beans, lentils, rice, popcorn, etc.

Jars filled with a single type of legume or grain are both striking against the dark palette of the tablecloth and leaves, and visually appealing. Further, unless you are planning to make a mixed bean and grain soup from your pantry items, don’t mix the contents in the jars.

Dim your lights, set aflame your candles, and watch the warmth of the harvest set the tone for your Thanksgiving.

Holly Hendrick is the Key Peninsula Farmers Market Manager and a collector of jars and candlesticks, who dabbles in floral design and photography.