Somewhere between a Swanson’s TV Turkey Dinner served on a folding tray table and Preston Bailey’s elaborate and over-the-top, albeit magical, Thanksgiving feast is the traditional Thanksgiving dinner that most of us will enjoy with family and friends on Thursday.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday: an all-American celebration of gratitude, goodwill, family and food. I am thankful my parents are still willing and able to host. My Mom will set up the main table (we have always numbered enough to warrant a kid’s table) with a damask table cloth and matching napkins, crystal wine glasses and carafes of wine, Lenox china and the good silver flatware. There will be candles (we all look better by candlelight) and a centerpiece, usually a large sterling bowl full of fruit and nuts. Times have changed and my Mom has dispensed with the sterling silver celery and olive trays and handmade butterballs in silver bowls that graced my grandmother’s Thanksgiving table when we were children. Over the years we have lost some dear family members and have also added to our brood. The one constant at our Thanksgiving table: the good silver, good food, good fun and grace.
Interior designer Jen Going, of Jen Going Interiors in Westhampton Beach (and my cousin), sets her holiday tables with a combination of traditional formality and contemporary informality. A mother of two and proprietress of her own thriving interior design business, Jen admits she is often scrambling at the 11th hour to pull together a look for her Thanksgiving table. Sometimes serendipity takes over. Last year her table runner bit the dust and it wasn’t until it was time to set the table that Jen remembered. So, she grabbed a bolt of wool fabric leftover from a job, cut it to fit the table and then frayed the edges to give it some texture. What she particularly loved is the words “woven in Scotland” showed on the edge of the fabric. Necessity is the serendipitous mother of invention.
Jen is passionate about incorporating natural elements in her tablescapes. “I got the idea for the apple place card holders from Pinterest, easy, pretty and cheap,” says Jen. “Those ticket stubs were leftover from an old timey-themed Halloween party I had for my daughter. I thought they looked cute with the apples, and I had just enough leftover!” Seasonal flowers, greens and fruit always have a place on the Going family table.
Jen cherished her sterling silver flatware, Gorham’s now discontinued Lily pattern, as a 20-something bride. Years later, she sees it as “over-the-top and fussy” so she tries to keep the other elements uncomplicated: simple chargers, white china (Ralph Lauren’s Meredith) and bold geometric napkins. The metallic leafed napkin rings, from Crate and Barrel, add some sparkle and accentuate Jen’s high-low, formal-informal style.