(MS) - Setting the scene for your holiday event doesn't have to take a lot of money or effort. All it really needs is a little imagination and some items you probably have around the house.
Get started by first picking a theme. Go with something close to your heart or a theme that inspires you. For Thanksgiving, a harvest concept is one that often comes to mind and it can perfectly complement the scope of the holiday. Make a running list of items that will fit with the harvest theme: Gourds, acorns, pine cones, corn cobs, and other outdoor finds are appropriate. They can also probably be found right in your yard.
Purchase a tablecloth or look for alternative materials to serve as one. An inexpensive piece of burlap cut, leaving the fraying ends can impart an earthy feel to the table. Gather thin twigs that can be attached together with cord to make inexpensive placemats. Place these items on the table and build up from there.
For an eye-catching centerpiece, purchase two vases, one larger than the other so that the smaller vase can fit inside the larger one. Fill the smaller vase with water and fresh flowers that fit your color scheme. Add interesting texture by also putting in a few more twigs, berry sprigs, or pine cones attached with floral wire. Place the smaller vase inside of the larger one. Fill the void between the two vases with something small and colorful, such as coffee beans, berries, acorns, or dried leaves.
Many hosts or hostesses fret that their table will look mismatched if they do not have enough matching china or flatware for the dinner service. Don't worry: eclectic table settings are all the rage. As long as you keep to the color scheme, you can pull off just about anything.
Think about visiting discount stores that sell dishes singularly and pull together a few different colors or shapes that will look cohesive together. Tie things together with the same colored napkin or another consistent element.
Create unique "place cards" that can also serve as take-home favors for guests. They don't have to actually be cards at all.
Gather small pumpkins and monogram them to serve as seating guides. Push whole cloves into the pumpkins to spell out the initials of the guests. The setting will not only look festive, but smell good, too.
Resist the temptation to over-do your table setting. You want the food and conversation to flow, so too many hindrances can detract rather than add to the occasion. Keep scale in mind for your centerpiece and any table adornments so that guests can easily chat with one another and pass food around the table.
Table settings can be ornate or casual depending upon your mood. They're also a great way to get kids involved with holiday preparations. Put them in charge of designing interesting centerpieces or seat and table accoutrements. You may be surprised at what they create.