Create a Beautiful, Affordable Thanksgiving Centerpiece Using Artisan Breads, Compound Butters and Fresh Herbs
Photo courtesy of Karli at Casa Verde
On Sunday we hosted our neighbors for an early Thanksgiving feast. It was a delightful night, marking exactly five years since we moved into this house. The night was all about giving thanks for the friendships we’ve forged with this wonderful tribe. Ours is the universal story of neighbors: we’ve shared laughter and tears and glasses of wine. We’ve looked after each other’s children, dropped off meals, borrowed power tools and hauled furniture.
Photo by Karli at Casa Verde
And yet. We’ve never enjoyed a formal meal together. Cookouts yes. A sit down meal with china and crystal? No. Fueled by a strong hankering for turkey and a potluck style menu plan, Jon and I felt up to the task. Incredibly, all nine of the children in attendance stayed content long enough for all of the adults to (briefly) enjoy a formal meal and a glass of wine. It felt magical. And also somewhat intimidating in the planning.
As soon as we extended the invitation, I knew I wanted to set a table using our china and crystal. But I quickly realized that, beyond the basic serving pieces, I don’t really own much in the way of fancy table linens or placemats. I don’t have a single charger plate or candlestick. None of those special pieces that my mother would use to dress up the dining room for an event. So I improvised. Cheaply. The end result created an elegant-meets-rustic table that is easy to replicate using your own mix of dishes, tea towels and creativity.
Start by arranging a hodgepodge of dark blue tea towels and cutting boards at the center of the table to create a rustic foundation. Arrange fresh cut, seasonal herbs in mismatched jars to add a lush, natural touch and inviting aroma. Artisan breads and homemade compound butters (see recipe below) placed on the cutting boards serve double duty as both decor and appetizer.
White china dishes provide a clean background at each place setting and gift tags make wonderful, inexpensive place cards tied around the napkins with pieces of twine. In lieu of placemats, provide each guest with a sheet of card stock, printed with the words “give thanks” and blank lines to fill in their blessings. Its a fun conversation starter, not to mention an inexpensive way to round out the table.
Overall, I was very pleased with how well our table came together. Our guests felt welcomed and special and the breads and herbs are still being enjoyed. In particular, I am loving the cranberry honey butter slathered on toasted slices of cranberry walnut bread. Its my new favorite breakfast and snack. A pot of this butter and a loaf of yummy bread would also make a lovely hostess gift if you’re headed elsewhere for Thanksgiving.
No matter where or how you’re planning to celebrate Thanksgiving, I wish you a happy, healthy (and delicious) holiday!
Cranberry Honey Butter
Makes 3/4 cup of compound butter
1/4 cup Cranberry Sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup butter, softened
- Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until evenly combined.
- Transfer butter to a small container, cover and chill.
- To serve, remove cranberry butter from refrigerator and allow to soften at least 20 minutes before serving. Butter can be stored refrigerated for up to two weeks.