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Table Toppers So Charming They'll Distract You From the Turkey

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The Kids' Table—that wonderland of unfiltered conversation, extra dessert, and go-on-and-play-with-your-food attitudes—is really where all the grown-ups want to be, too. Decorations and snack bowls and fun little place cards actually quite befit it; the brightening-up of a holiday feast need not stop at the main spread.

So when Darcy Miller, author of Celebrate Everything! Fun Ideas to Bring Your Parties to Life, let us know she had not only handmade ideas for the Thanksgiving table, but also for the kids' table, we cheered. And invited her to our office to show them off. Here are Darcy's ideas for styling both, with videos styled by the crafting mastermind herself.

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The big kids' table

  • Roll out a brown Kraft paper runner—inexpensive and surprisingly elegant.
  • Set out small bowls of snacks (candy, nuts, dried fruit, and real fruit) for snacking that's also decor.
  • Add an on-theme trinket to each place setting, tucked into or resting right on top of the napkin, like the "turkey takeaways" Darcy dressed up for our video. (See how to DIY them, here, or trace around an open hand to make turkey drawings instead).
Handblown Decanter

Handblown Decanter

$175
Gold-Dipped Seashell Pinch Bowls (Set of 2)

Gold-Dipped Seashell Pinch Bowls (Set of 2)

$55
  • Tone down the flowers—stalks of wheat make a nice autumnal arrangement, as do seasonal fruits (like these pomegranate branches) and single blooms in small vases instead of large arrangements: Darcy used a deep red dahlia for this shoot, but also loves calla lilies, ilex (holly), berries on stems, heliopsis, and mums.
  • Add note cards in mini envelopes, with toasts or inspirational quotes or things to be thankful for written on them, at every place setting. (See how to make the ones depicted above, here.) And have your guests read them aloud to remember what the holiday is about.

The Kid Kids' Table

  • Use Kraft paper as a runner on this table—doubly fun here because they can draw all over it (and it's as snappy as what the adults are using).
  • Make simple sail toppers to turn cupcakes into tiny Mayflower ships: They're "just paper cut out and skewed on a toothpick," Darcy explains, but you can find a more thorough tutorial here. (Note: Darcy used mini cupcakes for this video, but if you went with full-sized ones the sails would be a little bit easier to cut out.)
Food52 Cake Stand, by AHeirloom

Food52 Cake Stand, by AHeirloom

$72
Glitter Mini Bowls (Set of 5)

Glitter Mini Bowls (Set of 5)

$45
  • A length of construction paper cut into a wave motif, taped around the top of a cake stand, will serve as their high seas.
  • Provide snacks! Small bowls of candy (Darcy likes anything with a gold foil wrapper, but especially chocolates) and nuts on table.
  • A color-in activity, whether hand-drawn or printed, can get kids thinking about what they're thankful for—and (bonus!) keep them occupied.
  • Don't forget to intersperse small cups of crayons or colored pencils on the table between bowls of snacks! Tic-tac-toe is much more fun with chocolates.

"My favorite part of any celebration is what I call the DIT aspect," Darcy tells me. "You don’t have to DIY everything (or anything!), but if you DIT (do-it-together), you’ll be making memories and traditions that will last a lot longer than the turkey or pie." So if you're not ready to make cupcake Mayflowers and turkey place settings, just try one—and recruit a friend!

Shop for Celebrate Everything!, Darcy's new book, here—and share your favorite ways to decorate a holiday table in the comments.

Tags: Darcy Miller, Celebrate Everything!, tabletop