Entertaining,  Holidays,  Love & Family

Outdoor Thanksgiving Dinner

This Thanksgiving was my absolute favorite.

And you know what?

I got to see first hand how creating a specific feeling and atmosphere can truly set the mood for a whole evening.

In a word, it was magic.

It all started about 3 weeks before Thanksgiving: I was going to host Thanksgiving at my house, and there were a couple extra guests this year, making a total of 15.

This troubled me.

See, last year I hosted Thanksgiving, too.

My dining table seats 8 comfortably, but at family gatherings we typically have at least 13 people. So, we squeeze in 5 more chairs somehow, and we all agree to forgo elbow room. The food is in the center of the table, and it’s a pretty cozy situation. I mean really cozy.

But this year, there were two more people. Where was I going to put them?

This meant no pretty table scape. Over crowding. And stress. No thank you.

That got me thinking: what sort of Thanksgiving did I really want to have this year?

A perfect dinner for me would be a big table where everyone could see and talk with everyone. Long tables make this impossible, and I usually feel cheated at the end of the evening because there’s some segment of the group I never really got to talk with.

The weather had been mild. Maybe I could rent tables and have an outdoor dinner this year…

Then I found this:

Uruguay – from a story produced by David Prior, photograph by Pablo Zamora
Uruguay – from a story produced by David Prior, photograph by Pablo Zamora

[ Source ]

Stunning, right?

I started thinking and then it all came together in my mind.

Now, I just needed to get my husband behind it.

You’ll never believe what happened next: I actually talked him into building not just one, but TWO farm style tables!

They were surprisingly easy to build, and pretty inexpensive, AND they took very little time.

Did I mention that my husband is not a handy kind of guy? He’d never built anything out of wood before. Neither had I, for that matter. But we did it!

This DIY Farm style table that my husband and I built. It took 6 hours and cost $130 in materials.

Add lighting, some ridiculously awesome and reasonably priced bistro chairs from IKEA, and voila! I had a real Thanksgiving table coming together!

We built two farm style tables and put them together to make a big square table that comfortably seats 16 people.

As a designer by background, I am always thinking in terms of balance and symmetry and creating something cohesive. I sketched out the table design I pictured, and then sourced the items.

I had most of what I needed at home, but I had to get fabric for the center cloth and the strips that trimmed each side. Then candles, pumpkins, lanterns and fairy lights created the magical ambiance I was looking for.

I got a number of vases at Dollar Tree, then filled them with pinto beans to create that “Fall” feel.

Hand crafted napkin rings and peacock style folded napkins adorned each plate setting. The candles, pumpkins and fairy lights completed the look.

I made the napkin rings and recruited some family members to help me fold the napkins, and I found these lovely organic miniature apples to complete each place setting (some went missing during set up. I’m pretty sure they were eaten along the way).  😀

Hand crafted teal blue napkin rings and a peacock folded napkin adorned each place setting. Tiny organic apples were placed above each plate to make a perfect fall table setting.

This was the final outcome:

Outdoor coastal Thanksgiving Table with teals and white and a splash of orange from the pumpkins. String lights, candles and fairy lights completed the look of this oversized square table that comfortably seats 16.

Gorgeous outdoor dinner table. Teals and whites, and a splash of orange from the pumpkins. String lights, candles and fairy lights completed the look of this oversized square table that comfortably seats 16.

String lights, candles, fairy lights and a sunset for this perfect outdoor Thanksgiving table for 16 people.

I had a stack of throw blankets just in case anyone got chilly, but the night turned out to be perfect.

This Thanksgiving table setting with candles, bird cages and fairy lights is gorgeous! See the stack of blankets in the background. Magical.

It was absolutely swoon-worthy.

But here’s the best part: nothing on the table was tall enough to obscure or interrupt anyone’s view of anyone else. Conversation flowed freely in every direction. This was the first dinner (as a bigger family) where everyone mingled with everyone.

Close up detail of the teal blue hand crafted napkin ring and peacock folded white linen napkin. I love how the candles and fairly lights twinkle in the distance.

We set up the food inside buffet style, and each person served themselves.

Thanksgiving family feast outdoors. Sunset, string lights, candles and bird cages. Gorgeous.

After dinner, we helped ourselves to dessert, and went around the table one by one sharing what each of us were thankful for. There was laughter and happy tears and the evening was PERFECT.

Bird cages, candles, fairy lights and pumpkins. The perfect fall table scape.

In fact, it was so awesome, we did it again on Christmas. 

How was your Thanksgiving? How do you manage a big dinner? Do you have special traditions you like to follow?

Let me know in the comments below.

Be Awesome Every Single Day


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