Harvest These Ideas

Use the tabletop decorations from Thanksgiving With Family and Friends to inspire your festive fall celebration.
Sarah Jernigan

Thanksgiving is often a casual, relaxed event for many Southerners. Our delicious menu makes it easy to spend less time over the stove, so naturally we thought you'd enjoy a few quickand-easy fall decorating ideas too.

These simple suggestions will have your dining room―whether indoors or out―looking festive and full of color in no time. Instead of spending hours getting ready, you can visit with family and friends. After all, isn't that what the holidays are all about? So purchase a pumpkin and some pansies, and have some fun with your tablescape.

Pumpkins and Pansies
Those extra pumpkins left over from Halloween can be put to good use as centerpiece containers--especially when paired with a bright array of pansies.

Select one midsize or several small pumpkins as your base. Cut out a top section, and scoop out the insides as if you were carving a jack-o'-lantern. This would be a fun project to enlist the help of children.

Place a plant liner inside that is large enough to cover the bottom of the pumpkin. Fill the liner with several small pansy plants, making sure the blooms peek out of the top. Or you could even plant the pansies first and drop them in as a whole. (Tip: Buy a flat of pansies if you are planning on using several pumpkins in your arrangement.) Lightly water or mist the pansies once they are placed inside the liner.

Casual Candlelight
Canning jars are a common sight during the Thanksgiving holidays. Granted, they usually hold the reward of the summer's harvest, but they can also make great candleholders to illuminate your setting. Use empty jars with inexpensive tea light candles or larger votives purchased from your supermarket. Tie a colorful ribbon or a piece of twine around the neck of the jar, and you've got instant style.

Eye These Ears
Corn makes festive place card holders. Put an ear, with the husk still attached, in the center of each plate, and add a card labeled with each guest's name. Fill a basket with corn, extra pansies, and berries. Everywhere your guests look, they'll see holiday hospitality.

The best part of all, items such as gourds, corn, pumpkins, and even canning jars should be available at larger supermarkets this time of year. Add the decorative items to your grocery list, and you only have to make one stop to prepare for your guests.

"Harvest These Ideas" is from the November 2002 issue of Southern Living.