You might have your Turkey Day menu all mapped out, but there's more to the table than just the fare. Owner and head designer at in New York City, Sandra de Ovando is known for her minimalist floral arrangements that blend strong geometric forms with striking colors. And when designing a table, de Ovando uses the same approach. With a little planning, a few natural elements and some basic linens, she shows how to create a gorgeous table your guests won't soon forget. Check out her tips for making a Thanksgiving tablescape as delectable as the food that tops it.
Keep colors simple and seasonal
Let your ingredients inspire you: "Cold-weather foods are typically in the jewel tones, such as cranberries and sweet potatoes," de Ovando says. Burnt umber, reds, yellows, and aubergine will all create a festive fall mood. Some of the best seasonal accents are mums that are widely available this time of year, gourds, and crabapples. Or, choose flowers that are available year-round in this jewel palette, like the dark red roses, anthurium, and brown and green orchids seen here.
Create an elegant canvas
De Ovando suggests choosing a cream or off-white tablecloth in simple linen (). "You want a neutral envelope over the whole table," she says. "It won't distract from the other colors on top of it; cream is a better complement than a starker white." If it seems too simple, consider adding three-inch strips of satin ribbon in a rich jewel tone to the tablecloth. Starting in the middle, crisscross ten strips of ribbon, with five going one way diagonally and five going the other, to create a diamond pattern. Pin the ribbons to the cloth at each intersection so they don't move once the food arrives.
Bring the outdoors in
A natural and free alternative to ribbons is a cluster of fallen oak or maple leaves placed on top of your cloth. To avoid a sloppy look, arrange the leaves in a simple, artful pattern. "Our design philosophy is to always create a form in everything we do," de Ovando says. Place the leaves in a rectangular shape, about twenty inches wide that runs the length of the table but stops before it gets to either end, so it acts as a mock table runner. When choosing leaves, focus on brighter oranges and yellows. "I think as long as they're still fresh, all leaves are beautiful, but you have to be careful when planning that the palette doesn't get too dark.
Instead of tall candlesticks or an overbearing candelabra, set the mood with about 12 to 16 scattered tea lights or votives, depending on the size of your table, de Ovando says. Use candles with glass holders so you don't have an open flame. When choosing the candles, select several in one color with no scent, so they don't interfere with the smells and tastes of the food. "I would go with amber colored votive candles to accent the yellows and oranges of the leaves," she says. If you don't have any on hand, grab a few from , or (all under $1!).
Displaying the food
To keep the integrity of your table display, try not to clutter the area with too many serving pieces. "It's very important that the table feels airy and comfortable so that you don't feel that every time you touch something, it could move or fall." Fewer dishes in varying sizes will work best with this display.
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