Decorating the table for Thanksgiving

Who would you invite for Thanksgiving if you had the choice?

“A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books” said the wise Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I would invite the men who toiled in the fields to grow the vegetables organically so that I can eat fresh and healthy food that is good for my body, the man who believed enough the create a healthy choice farm in Antigua at Hall Valley so that I can have local free range eggs, Craig Sams who makes organic chocolate at Green & Black’s so that I can have a guilt free flourless chocolate cake for dessert and the people who give us stone-ground organic flour so that we can enjoy the bread that we share. I would invite them so that I could thank them because they care about what matters to us most – our health giving food. Oh, and mythically I would probably invite the wild Irishwoman Grainne O’Malley, as when she was excluded she kidnapped a relative – she’d probably be a hoot to have around and also best to stay on her good side.

With such an eclectic group of people perhaps I would purchase a box of Tabletopics and avoid any idle moments or gaps in conversation. This is a fun game to keep everyone at the table involved in the same banter and it proposes interesting thoughts and clever wit.

The theme for this Thanksgiving table will be ‘green’. I have chosen that as there are no bright non-ephermal flowers in the garden right now. But green is good, and it goes well with brown – take a look at trees if you don’t believe me. Most tables are brown. So it is perfect. I shall add some clear glass to add sparkle also, as you always need 3 elements to make the design work.

I try to tell a story with all of my table decorations – collecting, gathering, wrapping, arranging: here is the story today…

Thanksgiving is not a holiday that I have ever really celebrated and although Antigua doesn’t adhere to American holidays (it is an ex-British island), I have been thinking about it this year.

In fact, I actually feel more thankful for food since moving here. There is some farming on the island, but not enough to feed the population of 90,ooo. Much of the produce is imported from Dominica, the US  and further afield. I really feel the seasons of the local fruits – when they are not in season they are just not available. At the end of the week, before the delivery ship comes in, the supermarket shelves are bare and I realise our vulnerability.

The children too, appreciate food more – it is a good lesson to learn. It has taken five months to find our feet with the food here and to learn what to buy and what not to buy. Grocery shopping is still a challenge but menu planning is becoming easier.

So I want to keep the table uncomplicated and let the food take stage. The colours are muted and reflect the simplicity of appreciating good produce.

A prowl through the garden resulted in these leaves.

Gathering greenery
Gathering greenery

This is a green napkin tied with palm frond. You could use ribbon or raffia or twine – whatever ties in(!) with your theme.

Elegant napkin fold
Elegant napkin fold for a classic dinner party

Now it is time to make a moodboard.

Table decoration moodboard
Table decoration and centrepiece moodboard

Here I have gathered some greenery, napkin and placemat, a glass vase, coconut, limes and glass beads.

Table decorations for a dinner party
Planning the decorations for your table for a dinner party

Arrange the place settings.

Place settings for your dinner party
Place settings for your dinner party

And dress the table.

Voilà – a simple ‘green-themed’ tablescape

This table setting shows how to use what is available without spending lots of money on decorations – simple greenery, fruits that you can eat later, shells collected from the beach and some glass beads from the dollar shop.

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and I leave you with these delicious words from that clever fellow Henry Wadsworth Longfellow again, that pretty well sum me up:

“The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the sweet serenity of books.”


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