Flat Thanksgiving Tablescape

I am usually in charge of tablescapes for my family’s holiday gatherings — which I love to do. We usually set up two long tables and I have a lot of space to design. We also have a buffet table so we never have to place platters or bowls on the dinner table itself. But this year we have rented a house for the long thanksgiving weekend, and although we are very excited, we are unsure about the kitchen and dining space at the rental. Therefore, I was tasked with creating a minimal tablescape that could accommodate a very full table. Never backing down from a challenge I came up with a festive, colorful idea that does not take up any table real estate: the flat tablescape!

I came up with a festive, colorful idea that does not take up any table real estate: the flat tablescape!

From crazy ideas of the past, I knew I had to create a prototype and get stakeholder buy in (my mom) before I went all in. I started with quick pencil and paper sketches, cut them out and arranged them on my table.

This confirmed that I was going in the right direction, but I was not sure if I liked the contrast between the white and dark wood or the actual look. I also knew if I was going to get buy in I need to add color to help my parents “get it”. I quickly painted the designs in watercolor. This also showed to me that if I did use watercolor, I would need to use heavy paper, to minimize curling.

The idea went over well and painting helped me see and balance the range of colors — I decided not to include persimmons — too much orange. We also came up with other ideas, drawing on a long runner of butcher block, or pinning the cutouts to a table runner. What we finally concluded was that we did not know the length of the table at the rental and so having individual cutouts will allow for flexibility.

I went back and started drawing on large watercolor paper. One of my sisters had the idea of drawing in ink-pen and then watercolor over. I did a mockup to see how it would look.

I was happy with the results and went forward with the rest of my drawings. For the leaves, I wanted them to have that “changing color” look. I drew all the leaves on the same page. Then painted the whole page with fall colors.

I then cut out all the designs and flattened them under a cutting board, books and weights over night. I think the paper is still not thick enough to sit 100% flat but if it was thicker it would be super hard to cut.

I created a full table mock up to see how it would look for Thanksgiving. This table is a lot shorter than the rental, so only using ⅔ of the cutouts, was a good sign that I made enough for Thanksgiving. For the tablescape I used a burlap table runner which helped frame the cutouts but also helped them stay in place. The table feels very, full, colorful, but platters, and bowls of delicious food can easily be placed on top of the cutouts.

I will add final Thanksgiving Day photos to this post!