Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Paper Thanksgiving: Decorating on the cheap. With toddlers.

Money is tight this month, but I still wanted the Thanksgiving table to have charm, especially since we would have three kids under the age of six joining us.  ANSWER: Use lots of paper and produce from the kitchen. 

First things first, I covered the table in my mother-in-law's crimson tablecloth.  Then I ran a runner down the middle of the table of 18" Kraft Paper (I buy one roll of kraft paper a year from Uline and find a zillion things to use it for, including gift wrapping.)  It was tedious, but I ran a pair of scalloping scissors down both sides to make it look a little fancier.

Using the same kraft paper, I wrapped four old heavy books and wrote little conversation starters like, "I am thankful for..." on the sides.

Now this is where I got the kids involved.  To make the napkin rings, my father-in-law sawed 2" sections of an old wrapping paper tube (a little narrower than a paper towel tube, but any tube would do).  The three girls (ages 15 months, 2 and 6) were free to color the tubes however they wanted and add three (only THREE!!) jewel stickers to each.  
The result was really cool - each napkin ring was completely unique and made with lots of love.

Name cards are always a nice touch at a large table to avoid that "where should I sit?" confusion right before the food is served.  I wanted to attach the name cards to treats, but toiled over what treat would be appropriate for EVERYONE at our table, including the littlest kids.  In the end, I decided to make dried apple chips in my dehydrator.  It was a good call.  They were a hit.  To make the named treat bags, I cut the leaves out of construction paper, then recruited the 2 year old to work the hole punch and the 6 year old to write out everyone's names.  Goosey needed a job too, so I assigned her the very important task of taste-testing the apples.  After filling each plaid bag (I bought those at Micheal's) with a handful of apple slices, I just tied them together with the named leaf and a piece of ribbon.

Making the four votives ended up being the most fun for the girls.  We started out by picking a variety of leaves in a local park.  While they sorted out their leaves on the table, I wrapped four random old glass jars with two-sided tape.  The girls than gently stuck their leaves all around the outside of the tape, leaving gaps between each to let the light shine through.  The extra leaves were just place loosely in the bottoms of each jar.  I then stuck LED votive candles in each jar, wrapped the jars with wax paper and a thin piece of ribbon.

Ta-Dah! A cheap, fun and easy craft that provides a really neat ambiance at the dinner table.


And lastly...THE HATS! My husband grumbles every year I make him wear a pilgrim hat.  But it's so fun.  For me anyway.  I love making them and I think it lightens the mood at the table when everyone is wearing a silly paper hat.  This year, we got the really neat touch of having the six year old personalize each Indian headband with cute sayings.

Here's a picture of the three girls wearing their pilgrim bonnets.  Doesn't that just scream "Thanksgiving?!" Ha.  Goose was a good sport and kept her hat on through the whole meal.

Here's a shot of my plate loaded with vegetarian/gluten free goodness.  From the top, heading clockwise Goose and I had: a pumpkin spice/carrot muffin, Latvian cucumber salad, fresh ground cranberry salad, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, green beans in a mustard dressing, sweet potato casserole, and succotash.

And while everyone else chowed down on the traditional pumpkin pie, I ended the night with a glorious wedge of Whole Food's Gluten Free Pecan Pie.  I wasn't sure I'd actually see said pie this year after the hassle I went through trying to hunt it down in Florida and coming up completely empty.  But thankfully, in the 11th hour, my brother-in-law snagged a pie in his Charlotte, NC Whole Foods and drove it down to me.  Major points earned on that one.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving with loved ones.  We sure did.  And we did it at a table that cost approximately $7 to decorate. BOOM!


  1. Was the brother in law from North Carolina coming anyway or did he really just drive the pie down to you? Hi, Allison. Miss you. Sarah at State Farm

  2. Oh, he was planning to come anyway. BUT, his schedule was pretty hectic prior to the long drive down, so stopping to buy the pies and finding space in the car to haul them down was a big deal.

  3. What a great idea for the napkin rings! I might just adapt for Christmas! Cheers!


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