Well, it has happened again. Another year has swept by and the holiday season is upon us once more. Personally, I don't sweat the holidays. It’s a crazy, busy time for both work and family, but I’ve simply learned to go with the flow. I find all the hustle exhilarating, and I feel way more inspired to attend parties rather than ignore invites (sorry friends, please keep inviting me - I will attend eventually, promise). Plus, I live for the one time of year that I get to cook and host a big gathering that’s not ruled by 8 and 10 year olds.
Insert Thanksgiving! I love this holiday, and it’s certainly the most inspiring to me. I believe that no matter who you are or where you’re from, every person can enjoy this day of gratitude.
At my house, Thanksgiving means friends (new and old), lots of amazing food (think Bon Appetite), and a fair amount of cheer in your cup. But the thing that excites me the most is getting creative with the table settings and decorations. I bust out my long tables, white linens, wedding china, and set a gorgeous table on my deck for all of us to enjoy. It's work, and it’s so worth it. My mom, bless her, is always trying to get me to dial it back (probably because I make her help me). "Why don't we do paper plates and sweat pants, Carrie?" she'll say. Hell no! That table is getting beautified, and if you’re invited you had better show in lipstick and a nice dress!
This year I decided to ask my fabulous friend, Amanda Robson, for tips on creating the perfect mood and table setting. She’s an absolute table-scape expert, and the founder and creative director of FEAST, thus I could not be in better company on this front.
“Amanda, I'm always in love with the table-scapes you create for Feast, they’re perfectly balanced and organic. How do I master the art of the table without breaking the bank or making it looked contrived?”
- “Keep it Simple. Instead of getting carried away with lots of candles, flowers, runners and vessels, (which all cost money), I choose one beautiful object to highlight, and keep the rest of the table-scape simple so my featured object stands out. This time of year it might be local persimmons, pomegranates or dried flowers. For Fall FEAST my focal star was beeswax candles made by Hana Bee Company.”
- “Re-source. One of my strongest intentions with FEAST is to design with sustainability. I’m also always trying to find creative ways to create less waste. Re-sourcing, or re-using, is a great way to do this and it saves money. If I have flowers from a FEAST table that I know will dry well, I hang them and they become a preserved treasure that I can use for a future project. I also try to use local plants and orchids when possible, as they can be planted or kept in their pot and used again for another event. Lastly, I have the gnarliest collection of glass kombucha bottles and mason jars. It drives my husband absolutely bonkers. I don’t throw these items away as they can be used as flower vessels, candle holders, gift jars, and more.”
- “Forage. Before purchasing flowers and foliage I always take inventory of what is in abundance in my own backyard (or my friends’). Do you have a tangerine tree? Cut off some branches and stick it in a vase or simply lay them on the table as part of a garland and you’ve got yourself a precious start to your table-scape.”
"There are so many aspects to consider when creating an inviting atmosphere for a gathering. I want to make everything beautiful but approachable. How do I set the mood and avoid stuffiness?"
- Intention: why are you hosting the gathering?
- Music: silence is incredibly uncomfortable for most people.
- Welcome cocktail or mocktail. It’s an official welcome into your celebration.
- Zones: Whenever I’m staging an event, I survey the site or home for lil zones I feel are cozy or have a vantage point of something beautiful in nature. I put some sort of seating there (a blanket, chair or bench). This allows guests to flow to what attracts them and have different interactions.
- Flowers: they delight.
Amanda says she loves to aim for design choices that are led by a beautiful bloom, fruit, ceramic piece, candlestick or other locally sourced treasures. And remember it’s not about perfection, "I think women find it comforting when we openly share our imperfections."
If you have not yet experienced Feast, you are missing out! For more information on Amanda Robson and her fabulous gatherings visit FEAST.
*All photos by Daeja Fallas