Thanksgiving is just about here and since so much of the day will center around dinner, I think the table should reflect back on your guests. I’m a huge fan of making place cards for seating arrangements. If children are going to be a part of the festivities, it’s even better to get them involved in the process. Doing something as simple as having the little ones create individual place cards using crayons or permanent markers gives a table a personal feel. With a little more time and a few additional resources, like photos and picture frames, there are a number of personalized touches you can add to your table. Here are a few suggestions:
You can simply fold a small sized piece of card stock in half to form a free standing table tent and have your kids draw a picture and include the name of the guest on it. You can also purchase individual place card holders to add a fancy touch.
I will sometimes make a tiny light bite to put on my plates for guests to enjoy as soon as they sit down at the table. You can also take a piece of card stock, say 2” x 5” and, after its decorated, fold it in half and glue it around a toothpick. Then, you can insert that into your little light bite and place it on a small plate at each seat. I've provided a recipe below for miniature pumpkin and corn muffins. They are quite tasty when served at room temperature with softened apple butter.
You can also personalize a place setting by framing a piece of “custom artwork” for each guest. Purchase small picture frames and then cut out matching sized pieces of card stock and let your kids create unique images for each guest coming to the table.
You can also use the same frames for small photos of your guests. This is a great opportunity to select a photo from an event that happened over the past year. It will create a fun memory as well as a conversation starter during dinner. I asked my Facebook friends for a few photos and a lot of folks let me include their picture. Big thanks to Nathan Miller, Andrew Corona, Tamara Hester, Allison Thomas, Kathy Murray, Chris Miller, Anders DiSilva, Steve Needham, Johanna Gonzalez and Tracey Curtis for sharing!
Placemats and Napkins
Other great canvases for kids’ drawing are napkins and placemats. Start a tradition by getting light colored napkins and fabric placemats and an assortment of permanent markers. Let your children and your guests put their doodles, memories of the day or even happy holiday wishes on the placemats and napkins. You can bring these out year after year and continue to add words and images to them. They create a wonderful conversation piece and a great memento.
Flowers and Leaves
Another way to get kids involved in decorating the table is to use fall leaves. Have your children pick up colorful leaves from the yard and loosely place them into large vases or punch bowls to make a centerpiece. They add seasonal color to the table and are easy to put together.
Also, you can also take fresh flowers and cut them down for individual place settings. Use shot glasses or stemless flutes and just put 2 or 3 blossoms in each glass. They spread the color around the table and make a nice contrast to the fall leaves.
The most important thing about Thanksgiving for me is spending quality time with friends and family. The more you personalize that experience, the more you’ll remember it and look forward to the next one. Have fun. Be creative. And, have a great holiday.
Mini Pumpkin Corn Muffins
3/4 cu Flour
3/4 cu Yellow Cornmeal
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cu brown sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cu Pecan Pieces, finely chopped
1 lg egg,
1/2 cu Buttermilk
3/4 cu pumpkin puree
3 tbl Vegetable Oil
24 cup mini muffin pan with liners inserted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and salt. Set aside.
Stir together the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until fully combined. Spoon mixture into muffin liners (I usually pour ingredients into a large disposable sealable bag and cut off one corner to use it as a pastry bag to squeeze the batter into the cups). Bake for 12-14 minutes until muffins spring back when pressed.