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A Modern Thanksgiving Table

November  8, 2013

Every other week, Anna Hezel talks about the innovations, decorations, and other quiet touches that make a party memorable.

Today: Get away from the burnt siennas of the 1970s. See how Anna puts a modern spin on the Thanksgiving table.

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When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of turkey, mashed potatoes, cornucopia-shaped baskets, cranberry sauce from a can, a house full of good cheer, and a very 1970s color scheme of earthtones.

But when my friend Gabriella and I decided to host a modern Thanksgiving for a group of friends, we got to pick and choose which Thanksgiving traditions to keep intact and which to pack away for another time. We got to tailor the holiday to our friend group, our cooking aspirations, and my Brooklyn apartment.

Setting the table:

The first tradition that I dispensed with was the traditional colors of Thanksgiving. When all of the trees along New York's avenues become tinged with fiery oranges and coppery browns, the city becomes transformed into a nostalgic, warm-hued wonderland. But when this natural phenomenon is translated into Thanksgiving decor, the results can often be a muddy mix of browns, yellows, and oranges.

To put a modern spin on our Thanksgiving, I chose a clean and simple red and white palette for our decor, with a few blue and brown accents. Since I already had some red furniture and a white tablecloth, the only things I needed to buy were red napkins and a few white gourds.

I began setting my table with a white tablecloth topped by a brown paper runner. A discount store in my neighborhood sells rolls of brown paper for $1, and I love the way the candles and white gourds pop against the neutral background. Along the runner, I scattered a few votives and gourds, as well as my centerpiece.

A thrifty centerpiece:

After recently painting a bench in my apartment, I had a little bit of leftover red paint. So, the morning of the party, I went for a walk and picked up a few spindly branches (some with leaves attached, and some without), and I painted them red. To do this, simply lay down some newspaper, paint your branches (avoiding any leaves), and allow to dry on the newspaper for about 3 hours. Paint stores tend to sell little sample bottles of their colors for about $1, so you could even experiment with a few different color palettes.

Party favors:

Even though I knew we'd be feeding our guests well, I still wanted to send them home with something sweet for the next day. I had some leftover Rice Krispies from our last party, so I decided to turn them into Caramelized Crispy Rice Bark. This recipe takes practically no time at all to make, and yet it's completely novel and delicious.

To create your own treat bags, place your bark or treat of choice into a parchment paper sandwich bag. Roll the bag up, seal with a small piece of Scotch tape. Trim the edges of a strip of paper, using a decorative paper edger. If you don't have one of these, you can use a ribbon that you like.

Read about our modern Thanksgiving menu here.

52 Days of Thanksgiving
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52 Days of Thanksgiving

Top-notch recipes, expert tips, and all the tools to pull off the year’s most memorable feast.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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    Tucker & Me
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Anna Hezel

Written by: Anna Hezel


Tucker &. November 10, 2013
Find some red osier, then you can do away with the paint.
bookjunky November 9, 2013
It sure would be great if y'all would stop using "heirloomed" as a word on your merchandise. Heirloom is an adjective, not a verb.
Eleaca B. November 8, 2013
love the color scheme.
rizzle November 8, 2013
I love the red branches against the brown and white.