Ideas for Thanksgiving and Beyond

The holiday of gratitude is upon us! One of my favorite parts of the holidays is decorating for the holidays! It really is a lot easier to transition from fall decorations to Christmas decorations if you consider Thanksgiving to be a transitional winter holiday — as in the colder season, not the literal season which doesn’t start until around Christmas. Winter decorations can stay up from Thanksgiving through spring, really. They’re meant to fill your house with warmth and cheer during the dark, cold months and usually involve things like berries, nuts, pinecones and evergreen branches … and, of course, warm, cozy, cheerful items and colors.

I love this idea that Sofia posted on Mokkasin last Christmas Eve. Light sleigh bells hung in front of a register, blower, fan, or on or near a door will bring a heartwarming, welcoming sound each time they’re stirred.

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If you were to also hang a bundle of herbs or a sprig of mistletoe, it would make your home look as bountiful as it sounds cheerful!

My grandmother had an enormous table that could be lengthened from one end of the dining room to the other for family gatherings. Every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter the adults sat around it and passed food right to left after the traditional family prayer. Her table was fiercely protected with a pad and/or plastic tablecloths under the formal tablecloth. My great-grandmother had a similarly long dining room table and I think it is the memories of our family gatherings that make me desire a farm-style table.

This table was shared by Kristi on her blog Simple, Everyday, Glamour. I thought her table decorating was beautiful and could even inspire a table set for only a few people. It also reminds me of the pilgrim tables depicted in artists’ renditions of the first Thanksgiving. (Note the milk-jug style centerpieces.)

I love the idea of “thanks jars” as centerpieces, or across a mantle or counter. A Google search will provide countless examples of these used in various ways — from vases to votive holders. They are simple to make. Some are painted mason jars, some are decoupaged, some have letters cut out of pretty paper and tied or glued to the jar…. Here is one of my favorite examples, shared by Country Girl Gourmet.

thanks-votive-009

When my aunt started hosting Thanksgiving dinner a new tradition emerged. The table was covered with a plastic tablecloth and she left permanent markers in the center. Every year we would write the date and what we were thankful for on the tablecloth. In years following we would look back to the years before as if looking at a time capsule of our own lives and the dynamics of our family.

An alternative idea is a thankful tree, like this one shared by Emily Rose on Simply Vintage Girl. Hers is made from a bouquet of branches collected in a jar with paper tags hanging from them. (She also shares how to make a thankful tree with chalk ornaments on her blog.)

If you’re not interested in making your own paper tags, there are so many to choose from on Etsy — like these from TinHeartDesigns.

Tags by TinHeartDesigns on Etsy

If you are having a family gathering or dinner party for Thanksgiving, you can hand a tag out to each guest and have them add it to your shared thankful tree or make a garland with tags hung at intervals. You can keep the tags to display the next year or send them to your guests with greeting cards to remind them of both the time you shared and what they have to be thankful for. This example of tags comes from Southern Living.

thanks tags

The idea of stringing a list of blessings also comes from Southern Living. They suggest folding tabs over twine (glue the ends together so they don’t fall off!) and laying it along the center of the table. It could also be hung as a garland. For an even more rustic look you could use wooden clothespins and write on them with marker or use them to clasp your tags to the string.

Another idea I loved for decorating the Thanksgiving table was this collection of white pumpkins and vases. It is simplistic elegance!

tableidea

If you would like to duplicate this idea, I found the peacock figurine (or at least something very similar!) from Dwell Studio on Amazon.

This Aviva Vase from Crate and Barrel looks very gourd-like and would look nice next to a collection of white pumpkins.

aviva-vase

Or maybe this Juno Lacquer Bamboo Gourd Vase from Briers to compliment the collection?

briers vaseIf you would rather just use a pumpkin as a vase, Kari has shared a how-to for creating your own pumpkin vase on her blog, U Create. It isn’t a real pumpkin, but she explains everything! I think it is lovely!

ucreate pumpkinvase

And if you’re looking for more pumpkins, this stoneware white Pumpkin Squash Ramekin Bowl and white Pumpkin Gourd Salt and Pepper Shaker Set are available on Amazon.com. (Click the pictures to see the product details.)

The cute little pumpkin table accents could also be given as take-away gifts to guests if you don’t want to keep them for your own collection.

How about this so-simple idea from Glitter Guide? Why not take a gold or silver craft pen or marker (gold would show up better on the white pumpkin) and write in pretty scripted letters on your gourds or jars? Write words of thankfulness that can transition into the rest of the holiday season, or turn your decorations around to reveal new words like “joy” and “Noël” after Thanksgiving is over.

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I also happened across the perfect wreath to compliment this Thanksgiving table that would last from fall through winter. Tia and Andrea a.k.a. Two Junk Chix made this snowball wreath to ring in 2013 and their blog explains exactly how they did it!

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However you choose to decorate your home and dining table for the holidays, I hope you’ve enjoyed these suggestions. If you have your own ideas or suggestions, please be sure to share or link them in the comments. I will be adding more items I find to Pinterest, if you’d like to follow my discoveries!

A Little Bit Country, a Little Bit on the Rocks

Mug Style Mason Jar Drinking Glasses

I’ve seen a lot of these “drinking jars” lately. People have been seeking them for outdoor wedding centerpieces and quirky al fresco parties. They are sometimes labeled as “redneck” or “country” glassware and advertised as something to add “hillbilly fun” to your table or party. There is even a “country stemware” version in which a jar is glued to what basically looks like a glass taper candle holder to make a “redneck wine glass.” Despite their labeling, people everywhere are using them as quaint, quirky and simple, down-to-earth additions to their parties. The key to using them in a sophisticated way is to put something pretty in them!

Out in the wholesome country it might be all sweet iced tea and lemonade but add a bit of creativity and you can have some of the most très jolie (and fun) drinks on the block!

Of course iced tea and lemonade is always a touch prettier with lemon slices thrown into the pitcher or glass, but think about adding other fruits, frozen fruit, or colorful ice cubes! This works in water too — and the bonus is that fresh fruit always gives plain old water a little something special. Slide berries or pieces of fruit onto cocktail skewers and freeze them to serve double duty as flavor and chillers — or throw some fruit into your ice-cube tray to make these!

You absolutely have to check out these wildflower/floral ice cubes suggested by A Cup of Jo. You’ll find the How-To here.

Let’s not discount (a pun?) the frugal way out — add just a drop of liquid food coloring or use any “powdered soft drink” to add color to your ice cubes, water, or other beverage. Or, as Martha Stewart suggests, freeze some of the drink you plan to enjoy ahead of time, so that your cubes don’t water down your beverage.

But this post was supposed to have a bit more kick….

mitt-rumney-mojitoIn my opinion, Mojitos and Mint Juleps are gorgeous drinks and part of that is because they look so simple and refreshing!

Traditionally, Mojitos use pure cane sugar. You can easily find raw sugar cane swizzle sticks to garnish your drink (and I’m told they’re delicious) and if you want to give your drink a little twist and a little color, try making Black Cherry Mojitos!

Here’s an authentic Kentucky recipe for a Mint Julep from a well-known Louisville (home of the Kentucky Derby) restaurant. (If you are serving your Mint Juleps from traditional silver or pewter Mint Julep cups, it is customary to hold them at the very top or very bottom of the glass!)

Here is another of the most beautiful drinks I’ve ever seen. It has been circulated on Pinterest as “Paradise” but the Paradise is actually a “martini” that looks nothing like this.

Paradise?

This is actually layers of light rum, Malibu rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice and grenadine.

And here’s one that is perfect for outdoor parties or weddings — High Street Market shared a recipe they found in Country Living in 2009 for a simple, homemade sangria. Basically, you use a bottle of white wine for every three cans of Fresca and add fresh fruit! Gorgeous!

Or how about a beautiful and fruity Frenchy? (Does it make you want to reach out and kiss someone?)

Of course something you can never go wrong with when you’re trying to make drinks pretty is bubbles! Champagne in itself is captivating but turn it into a Mimosa for the color factor. Bellinis are pretty cocktails that are traditionally made with peach puree and sparkling wine (but I’m partial to strawberry)!  Here’s a recipe for an Orange Blossom Gin Fizz, which I’ve never tried but it looks delicious! There’s also the “Cherry Moon” or “Dirty Shirley” — cherry vodka with lemon-lime soda and a bit of grenadine. And here’s an article of 10 Perfect Champagne Cocktails from Saveur. Add a slice of fruit, a sprig of mint, or a skewer of frozen fruit (as mentioned above) to any of these to make them look magnificent!

If you’re interest is piqued, there are more absolutely beautiful drinks pinned on Pinterest.

So where can you get the perfect jar to serve these lovely drinks in? Considering how popular they’ve become — even if only as conversation pieces — it won’t be hard. You could even just go buy regular canning jars from the supermarket or cooking supply store. However, if you’d rather have the “real deal” complete with a “handle,” here are some links:

6 Piece Country Folk Drinking Jar Set from Kitchen Kapers – $19.99

Personalized Glass Drinking Jars (Set of 4) from Nordstrom – $36.00

Jar Glasses on Etsy –  price varies depending on seller