Let Nature Decorate your Holiday Table

Nature often makes the best decoration. Especially in Fall, leaves, fruits and nuts are readily available in public spaces, in addition to being eye-catching, pretty, and free or nearly so.

Of course, the hunt is a highlight of the pre-planning. It provides a fun family tradition, and a way to enjoy nature together in the beautiful Fall, before bringing some of it inside for lovely — and free — table decor. My favorite tabletop finds include buckeyes, chestnuts, multi-colored leaves, ivy, pine boughs, pine cones, branches with berries and, from the store, mini pumpkins, persimmons, apples, mandarin oranges, and pears.

Above are fall tables from two different years. Both feature collected items from nature and inexpensive store-bought fall flowers that my family and I arranged in a shallow bowl, using a “frog” to hold the stems in place. All of our glassware and china has been handed down, including the festive red glasses. I layered inexpensive tablecloths and fabric runners.

One Thanksgiving morning, our cousins gathered branches and boughs for their table and made cute homemade placecards for each guest.

Another guest provided this very festive and yummy cake. I made the Cranberry Crunch squares from Susan Simon’s The Nantucket Holiday Table. They’re very good, and a great use for cranberries.

If you’re fortunate to be able to collect buckeyes, chestnuts or acorns in your area, they can make an inexpensive, natural, interesting filler for a large vase of flowers.

Friend Mary Mauro cleverly filled a very tall vase with mini pumpkins for a gathering. (She is also a gifted flower arranger.)

I hope you have an inspired, happy Thanksgiving.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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3 responses to “Let Nature Decorate your Holiday Table

  1. Every time I see mini-pumpkins, I remember Kitten, a Thai woman married to an ex-GI who opened Austin’s first Thai restaurant, which was a huge hit, as you can imagine. It was above Austin’s only Thai/Vietnamese grocery store. Dessert at Chopsticks, as it was lamely called, was often mini-pumpkins hollowed out, filled with a coconut custard (not too sweet) and steamed. Man, they were good.

    I’d provide a recipe, because Kitten and I were going to teach Thai cooking through the UT adult education system (I’d already done three years of Cajun), but one day when I went to meet with her, the place was padlocked. “Feds took ’em all this morning,” the guy downstairs said. I asked him what on earth was going on. He went back to silently stocking his shelves. Eventually, I left.

  2. What a story, Ed! Those custard-filled mini pumpkins sound delicious. I’m glad the mini pumpkins here could serve as your madeleine. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  3. Pingback: Thanksgivukkuh: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Holiday - Slow Family

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