Looking for ideas to make this Thanksgiving special? Edward Perotti is an event designer who has worked with artists like Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas. From intimate settings to spectacular events at the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul and the Great Wall of China, he knows a thing or two about producing extraordinary experiences. We asked him for some ideas to make this the best Thanksgiving ever.
“What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving?” Perotti asks. “Do you imagine a time of gratitude with your family, all the while counting your blessings? Or is it merely a day of eating, partying or watching sports on TV and showing your team spirit?”
Perotti grew up in San Francisco in a very traditional Italian-American home. Thanksgiving was a day for family and a celebration of togetherness.
“Over the years, I have seen and done many things to make this day special for my family and friends,” Perotti says. “Here are a couple of decor and tabletop ideas to make this year’s event one that your family will look back on with fond memories.”
Pumpkins add a decorative touch to your table. Image: Kitchen Magic
Perotti recommends creating a Thankful Table by first focusing on your dining table centerpiece:
Take a potted Manzanita tree, wrap it in something simple like ivory or cream linen fabric and place it in the center of your table.
Add various mason jars and glass milk bottles around the table, spray painted in a color to match your decor.
Fill all but three jars with a single type of flower, like dahlias or hydrangeas.
Label the three empty jars with FAMILY, HEALTH and GOOD FORTUNE. Mix the three labeled jars with the others jars, all building out from either side of the tree.
As your guests arrive and get comfortable, have them take a slip of paper or index card to write down one or two things they are thankful for or consider a blessing this season.
Before your meal, take the cards and tie them to the tree branches with ribbon. This has now become your family blessing tree and the centerpiece to your table decor.
When you are ready for everyone to join the table, go around the table and have each person take a card off the tree and read it aloud.
Once they read the card, they can place it in the appropriate blessing jar.
When you’re done, you will have a fairly good view of your family’s strongest blessings. You’ll be amazed (and moved) when you hear how people truly feel.
“People who know me personally know how much I love to mix china patterns,” Perotti says. “Since Thanksgiving is about bringing together people of all backgrounds, it’s a time to embrace this concept. You can start by designing a table inspired by and honoring the women in your family.”
Start with a minimum of 40 mini orange and white pumpkins. Mix the colors to create a one-foot wide ‘table runner’ of the mini pumpkins. Strategically place 4 single candles within the pumpkin runner.
Add florals in small and subtle varieties, like mini ivory hydrangeas. Disperse the flowers randomly within and on top of your pumpkin runner.
For the actual place settings, ask your grandmother, mother, sister, aunt, mother-in-law, etc. if you can borrow some of their fine china and stemware. You will only need a handful of pieces from each.
Set your table by using the salad plate from one set, the dinner plate from another set and so on with additional plates and glassware.
Don’t worry about matching. This table is all about your family and the blending of different styles to create one overall experience.
For dessert, gather a bunch of digital pictures from all your family members and create a photo collage of the pictures. Print enough 5×7 prints of the collage so that you have one for each guest, and insert the prints into frameless glass picture frames. These frames are your dessert plates.
“When everyone gathers around the table, have each person who donated china tell a favorite family memory, perhaps about why they chose the china that was used that evening,” Perotti says. “A story I loved hearing is about how my grandfather proposed to my grandmother.”
If you want to save this Thanksgiving memory, he recommends recording everyone sharing their memories with your phone so you can save it for future generations. “This is a great way to always remember your family story and journey.”