A Timeline for Thanksgiving Traditions
Over the years we have invented a few cherished family traditions to cultivate togetherness around this treasured American holiday - whether it’s a classic Thanksgiving or a fabulous Friendsgiving. We can’t promise that the turkey won’t be overcooked or that the pumpkin pie doesn’t have a soggy bottom, but the inspirations below are our fresh take on a time-honored day with our passionately curated recipe for success - with the main ingredient being togetherness.
1. Gratitude Banner - early November
Every November 1st we unfurl our Gratitude Banner and hang it in the kitchen - but truly, it is never too late to start. Rather simply, a painter’s drop cloth from the hardware store serves as a blank canvass for adorning with statements of gratitude. Every day, we scrawl things in marker that we are thankful for - from chocolates to math tutors to pet bunnies - as a way to proactively and mindfully practice gratitude. There is something powerful when pen is put to parchment, a visual and tangible reminder of our abundant blessings - both large and small - that we see every time we enter the kitchen for the entire month of November.
By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, a cacophony of gratefulness surrounds us and we’re ready to celebrate - for we believe that gratitude is the secret to happiness. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, and a stranger into a friend.
After the food is devoured, the pies are parceled out, and the guests have all gone on their merry ways, I roll up and tuck away our beautiful banner to pour over years later - it is a heartfelt time capsule that is lovely to revisit as our children grow.
“True gratitude deserves permanent ink.”
2. A Forest Walk - Thanksgiving morning
Thursday morning calls for a brisk family walk in the woods near our home. It is a way to connect with Mother Nature, while simultaneously stirring up our appetites for the day of feasting ahead. Without fail, our pace soon slows to a meander as we admire the many treasures of the forest. We roam, scavenge, and forage our way through the enchanting autumn woods, collecting natural artifacts along the way to create our dining table centerpiece when we return home.
Careful not to disturb, we take only small amounts as we gather organic ephemera - pinecones, leaves, berries, nuts, twigs, moss, and feathers - that all find their way into our baskets and pockets. The muddier our boots and fingers, the happier I know we all are.
3. Creating our Tablescape - “Crafternoon”
Every year we return home from our forest walk with ruddy cheeks and seek to perpetuate the magic of nature by creating a woodland tablescape for our Thanksgiving table. We lovingly refer to this tradition as our “Crafternoon,” when we pull up our chairs, roll up our sleeves, and spend the cozy afternoon crafting together at the table.
To create the centerpiece sculpture we use various fern plants (purchased from a local shop or florist) as foundational, structural pieces, then build our enchanted landscape around them. Starting with fresh moss, we fill in the spaces until our forest floor spans the length of our table in a gorgeous green carpet just waiting to be decorated with our foraged treasures. Artfully we add all of our natural artifacts - from pinecones to feathers to antlers - until our magical terrain is complete.
Our Craftenoon continues as we create personal touches for each place setting. Birds nests from the craft store are embellished with moss and feathers to create the perfect resting place for a handwritten name card. With the touch of a glue gun, little wooden tree houses are transformed into whimsical fairy houses and pinecones and rocks are given googly eyes and hats - the quirkier the better. These “desk pets” are charming little characters that our children started making when they were very young to keep themselves company while doing homework. They have been guests at our Thanksgiving table ever since - and are guaranteed conversation-starters and giggle-inducers!
4. All Set - the finishing touches
Setting the table is a team sport in our home, and everyone has a job to do for the home stretch. This year, we’re bringing a Mad Hatter’s theme to our festivities, deciding to have some fun and overdo it a little! Boisterous colors, rich textures, and a riot of patterns (we adore patterns!) are woven into our tablescape.
Anchoring everything is our dinnerware. Over the years of entertaining, we have come to realize that having a dinnerware setting that we return to every Thanksgiving is far richer than reinventing the wheel each time. We layer our Forest Walk plates atop our patchwork tablecloth - handcrafted from Grandfather’s old blazers - with velvet trimmed napkins in beautiful hues.
Last, we add the “jewelry.” Tea lights, taper candles, and gleaming silverware. We festoon the table with our Bohemian glassware, which never fails to capture the candlelight and lend sparkling glamour to the whole scene.
5. A Feast for the Eyes and Table - Dinnertime
As sunset descends and Tony Bennet croons in the background, we light the candles, join hands, and gather together at the table, forever in gratitude.