5 THANKSGIVING CENTREPIECE IDEAS. IT’S GETTING CLOSE!

I don’t mean to alarm you but, it’s only one week until Thanksgiving.

I’m assuming you Americans are especially alarmed since you thought this was October.  It is.   I have unduly alarmed you.   It’s only one week until CANADIAN Thanksgiving.  Canadian Thanksgiving differs from American Thanksgiving in that we hold our Thanksgiving in October as a way to celebrate the end of the year’s harvest. Whereas Americans celebrate the Brady Bunch episode where they all get stoned and dress up as Pilgrims.

Presently many Canadians are alarmed because most of us didn’t realize Thanksgiving was in a week. Thanksgiving.  The sneakiest of all the holidays.   It is in 9 days exactly (if you have your dinner on the Sunday), so now’s the time to start debating whether to get a fresh turkey or a frozen turkey and if you get a frozen turkey whether to let it defrost in the fridge or in a sink full of cold water.  If you aren’t the type to have already pre-ordered your organic turkey, you will ultimately decide to buy whatever turkey is the cheapest and the right size regardless of whether it’s frozen or fresh, so don’t waste anymore time debating.

Now is also the time to start thinking about how you’re going to set your table or what kind of centrepiece you’d like to have.  I don’t care if you’re having a simple dinner for 2 or a huge dinner party, you need to have a Thanksgiving centrepiece.  You have to.  Otherwise your table will look incomplete. Like a face with no eyebrows.

I currently have a garden filled with so many Dahlias that I know that I’ll be making a Thanksgiving centrepiece using those this year. You’ll get a load of that once I do it, but for now I wanted to remind you of some of my favourite Thanksgiving or Autumn centrepieces from the past 6 years or so.  Looking back on them I’ve discovered two things about myself.  A) I really like ornamental cabbages and b) I’m REALLY glad I painted my brick wall.    Which leads me into my next statement; I really can’t wait to refinish my dining room table.  I haven’t liked the finish since the guy who built it walked it through my front door.  Now that my courage is sufficiently fed after painting the orange brick wall I think I can tackle the orange dining room table without fear of any post traumatic episodes.  If I down a glass of whiskey beforehand I might even think it’s fun.

I have 5 centrepiece and table ideas for you.  You can copy these ideas exactly as is, or you can just use them for inspiration.  In case you were worried there were rules to this post and I was going to knock on your door Thanksgiving evening asking to inspect your centrepiece, I am not.  Do whatever you want, I will not judge.  Mainly because I won’t be able to actually see it.

Thanksgiving Centrepiece #1

Thanksgiving centrepiece ideas

This all-vegetable arrangement is my absolute favourite arrangement of all time.  I made it a couple of years ago when I was doing a talk for Lee Valley on Thanksgiving decorating.  I wanted to make something that truly represented a Canadian Thanksgiving that honours the harvest.  Literally every single thing in this arrangement is edible. Yes. Ornamental cabbage is edible.  Learn how to make the arrangement, where to get the metal stand and all the food that goes into the arrangement in the original post here.

Thanksgiving Centrepiece #2

Thanksgiving centrepiece ideas

A year or two before I used many of the same flowering elements like Amaranth and ornamental cabbage to make a HUGE free flowing centrepiece.  It’s another favourite but there’s a real trick to making something that’s so messy look pleasing.  Basically you have to make a tidy mess if that makes sense.  Using a pre-defined  colour palette (for me it was purple, green and red) and keeping the arrangement quite compact will make your job arranging this kind of centrepiece easier.  See what the entire table looked like in this post. The rustic, casual table setting remains my favourite tablescape to date.  LOOK there isn’t even a tablecloth or placemats.  It’s mayhem I tell you.  And I like it.

Thanksgiving Centrepiece #3

Thanksgiving centrepiece ideas

Like ornamental cabbages but don’t trust yourself to do some huge, over the top arrangement? I don’t blame you.  Even I get myself into a sweat doing them.  Make it easy on yourself and just put a row of cabbages down your table.  Either straight in a line or mixed up a bit like these.    For more ornamental cabbage ideas you can take a look at this post.

 

Thanksgiving Centrepiece #4

Thanksgiving centrepiece ideas

You can barely see the arrangements on this page (they’re fall coloured mums in water jugs, but that doesn’t matter.  What I wanted you to see here are the mismatched vintage plates and chairs. I haven’t used these plates in years for my Thanksgiving table but this year MIGHT be the year I drag them out again. I love how they look and would use them every day i they were dishwasher safe but they aren’t. And I aren’t about to hand wash all my dishes every night.  You can find these dishes for anywhere from $5 to $25 a plate depending on the make.  Most of mine are the $10 or so variety but there’s the odd good one in there.  The good ones are usually hand painted as opposed to transferware and are finer quality.  See the rest of the table (warning this is an OLD post so the photos are, well … bad, in a word) in this post here.

Thanksgiving Centrepiece #5

Thanksgiving centrepiece ideas

Foam pumpkins for the win.  I scoured Amazon for you but I couldn’t find any white ones that looked like good quality so I’d say if you want some white foam pumpkins, Michaels is probably your best et.  Fine. Here are the ones from Amazon, but they don’t get good reviews.  This looks nice, plus it’s really easy to do.  Just a few candles in cheap glass vases, some candlesticks, foam pumpkins and moss.  The best part is all of these items are reusable from year to year.  I know a lot of people don’t like to spend money on flowers because they last a week tops.  With foam pumpkins and preserved moss (this is how you can preserve your own moss) you can stick everything in a Tupperware bin and pull it out year after year.

I almost forgot the most important distinction between Canadian and American Thanksgiving; Canadians do NOT put marshmallows on their casseroles.  The thought of such a concotion is revolting.  Marshmallows only go where they belong.  In a salad.  

Have a good weekend!

32 Comments

  1. Lavada says:

    When talking about your plates, you included a link indicating it was an “old post.” When I clicked on it, it took me to this URL:
    http://www.diffen.com/difference/Thanksgiving_in_America_vs_Thanksgiving_in_Canada

    Is that what you intended? If so, I just don’t get it and will have to re-read the post and look again.

    Thanks for all you do.

  2. Christine says:

    These centerpieces are beautiful, but we always have so many platters of food on the table there is no room for even a candle!

    • Beth W says:

      Ditto!

      This year I’m trying to do something different – with two separate ends worth of centrepiece, but the centre empty for my platters. We’ll see! (in 9 days – eek!)

  3. TucsonPatty says:

    I was going to go back and click, glad I didn’t until you fixed it! I love the hodge-podge of the table setting look. I also love a good crammed full of everything Christmas tree. Chaos and disorder for the win! Happy Thanksgiving, Karen. (I did indeed have a little heart attack reading the subject line/title, for just a second. You scoundrel, you.)

  4. Kathleen Aberley says:

    Gorgeous… especially the last one. Pity we don celebrate Thanksgiving here in South Africa.
    And foam pumpkins? Who would have thought! (When I saw the centrepiece, I thought you had just painted Halloween pumpkins.)

    • Alena says:

      What’s stopping from starting a new tradition? Announce to the family that October Xth (or November, or whatever month works for you) will be a Thanksgiving celebration and make the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
      Next year, they wil BEG YOU to repeat it. 🙂

  5. Marna says:

    Love all of it! The link to amazon for the tiered stand went nowhere. I just went to amazon and entered galvanized serving stand. There are several I like. I have been looking for something similar anyway, so thanks. I might try to make the all vegetable display, it is so cool! I really like ornamental cabbage, especially the little ones you can get now. I try to grow them year round near my front door, go great with succulents and flowers.

  6. Constanze says:

    Centerpiece? For a Family (celebratory) Dinner? O_O
    like, decoration stuff in the middle of the table???
    How… I mean it’s pretty, but where does all your food go?
    The amounts of food my mom has to put on the table for festivities (Christmas, Easter, etc. we don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in Germany with a big bash, “Erntedank” is mostly just a mass at church) leave no space for decorations that take more space than a small candle XD (family of six, plus girlfriends and extended family)
    So I guess our food is our centerpiece?
    But yours are really pretty =) I like the cabbages, I have even seen them used in wedding decorations (when I found out those pretty flowers are cabbages I was like whoooaaaa )

    • Karen says:

      The centrepiece stays on the table until people are seated and then it gets whisked away and replaced with the platter of turkey or potatoes, or whatever else. ~ karen!

  7. Sally says:

    I like all of the variations (particularly the pumpkins), but no.2 does rather make me think that that is the one for extreme introverts who do not wish to be seen by any other diners!

  8. Paula says:

    Fun, almost enough fun to convince me to go the extra mile setting my table. 😉 “I aren’t” “concoction” grammar and spelling police moment.

  9. Nicole says:

    I’ve been panicking for a couple of days after I realized it was just over a week away. This is what happens when you move to the States: you don’t have television shows that remind you it’s almost Thanksgiving! I throw a big bash with all my American friends invited (usually 20-30 people) and do a buffet. I’m hoping this year to have enough space to do a centerpiece or maybe two end pieces as someone else suggested. My big concern is finding a large-ish “off season” turkey (the poultry farm I used to go to folded last year and is now condos).

  10. Katie C. says:

    I just made my way down through the click-hole until I got to the Thanksgiving where everyone got their heads measured. I think my family and yours would get along delightfully.

    One Thanksgiving we ended the night by lugging out my parent’s gigantic Webster’s dictionary and looking up bad words.

  11. diane says:

    Thanksgiving Centrepiece #2
    While looking at #2 post in 2014, I spotted that tree on the wall. Can you explain how you did that? Inquiring minds would love to know.

    All centerpieces are stunning!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane. That is literally a dead fig tree. The ornamental kind for inside the house. It was my friends that she owned for years and years. She didn’t want to throw it out so she brought it to my house for some reason. I hung it on the wall with a piece of fishing line attached to a nail on the wall. Looked great. 🙂 ~ karen!

    • Alena says:

      I have always liked that little tree on Karen’s wall. I can’t believe the post is from 2014.
      I have always wanted to something similar. I have a manzanita branch that really does not have a home right now (since I removed some bookcases on top of which it used to live). I am debating whether to hang it the same way it would grow in nature (the thicker end of the branch pointing down) or upside down. It does not have the root ball, it looks like a broken off three branch.
      It looks very much like this one:
      http://www.save-on-crafts.com/manzanita1.html
      Any thoughts on that?

  12. Eileen says:

    no, no, no, no…thoughts of Turkey Day when we’re due for a “heat bubble” and temps are going to be in the high 80s? no…way….happy to wait for end of November.
    But the centerpiece ideas are beautiful!

  13. monica says:

    I am thankful for all my Canadian friends (both the internet and in-the-flesh variety) who remind me that Thanksgiving here in the US is coming up in a month-and-a-half. So I can be prepared and look like I remembered it all on my own. Sort of a Thanksgiving Early Warning System, if you will. Cheers to the TEWS, and to you, Karen!

  14. Marlene says:

    My “good plates” are old dishes, all mixed up, different patterns, too. Some are from my mom and some from my grandmother, both who have long passed away. It also gives me an excuse to go to the flea markets for more!! Have you tried Mizeners up the hill from you? A bit dumpy, but I have found some good deals. I actually see one of my plates on your table!! I love everything old or unique, plus it goes well with our dining room set, which use to be my husbands grandparents …. it’s really old, cause he is too!!
    No Thanksgiving dinner for us this year, as we are travelling back from Puerto Vallarta, our son is getting married there next week ….. yea, more hot and humid weather 🙁

  15. Benjamin says:

    Oh for goodness sake, would someone please paint that tired brick wall next to Margaret?
    Asking for a friend…

  16. ElenG says:

    9 days, you say? I’m just going to get on a train with a flask for 1 and stare out the window. No centerpiece involved… though those are all lovely. 😀

  17. Nic says:

    Question, you linked the old post about preserving moss with two methods. You vouched for the glycerine/alcohol combo, but hadn’t had long enough to vouch for the longevity of the glycerine/hot water combo. Do you remember how it held up?

    Love the center pieces, especially the really simple one with the potted cabbage (which is convenient, since my lazy ass would be likeliest to attempt something like that, as gorgeous as the others are!)

  18. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    The first is definitely your best so far but I love dahlias so I will have to see if you can top that one this year!

    • Nancy Blue Moon says:

      Also logically…if you are talking about a centrepiece…the face would be missing a nose not eyebrows…center…get it?

  19. Mary W says:

    I just had to let you know – finally baked all the extra garlic accumulated from Blue Apron and Marley’s. I did it like you said (forgot 2 layers of foil but used heavy duty). It is FANTASTICO! So creamy and sweet – just like I love. All our crackers were eaten, no good bread in the house, and no wine. So, I checked with your recipes and Garlic Dip was the first one under appetizers – so thoughtful! You mentioned I could freeze it so I smooshed it up but didn’t add the olive oil and stuck it in the freezer. This Friday while you are working hard on a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, I will be eating my roasted garlic dip on baguette toasts and drinking some wine. What a lovely evening I’m imagining. I will be being thankful for you – very much!

  20. Brenda says:

    HA!! My grandma always had a salad with marshmallows in it at family dinners!!

  21. I can see what you mean about refinishing your table. Orange? For the kind of wood that it is? Ugh. Get something that makes that beautiful wood look rich and lustrous!

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