Just Because We Can't Fill All the Seats Doesn't Mean We Can't Fill the Table!
As the weather cools, and especially around the holidays, we seem to crave comfort and reach for food that brings us joy. Luckily, if you find that many foods bring you joy, you can make smaller batches of your favorites and lay them all out for a bountiful fall grazing table fit for any occasion. In fact, I find that my children prefer picking what they like and serving themselves so this way you have a few options for everyone and no hurt feelings when they turn their noses up at your typical dinner. And when served with a glass of wine, my social-butterfly of a husband's eyes light up like we're at a little party, even if it's just us at home.
Over the holidays, the food, drinks, and desserts should be the main event. If you think about it, isn't Thanksgiving just the O.G. grazing table? I am not implying you must celebrate any particular holiday in any certain way. If anything, just toast to making it through 2020 - it was a doozy and it's end is certainly worth celebrating! But if you do celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Diwali, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, etc. recipe and decor ideas are abundant.
Tablecloth - Lay a tablecloth over the table. For longer tables, think about layering options that compliment each other. If you do not have a tablecloth that you like, you may find inspiration from the local fabric store. Buy a couple yards of fabric, or 1 - 1 1/2 yards of two if you want a layered look. Trim to fit your table if needed.
Placemats - I do not own placemats, but if you have them then this is when you pull them out. What I do love though are those paper placemats that have drawings for little children to color or adults to doodle on.
Napkins - Cloth napkins are a nice addition to elevate your table when diners are seated. If you are presenting a more casual option where diners can casually graze, look for an elevated disposable napkin to compliment your tablecloth or color scheme.
Plates - Layering smaller plates over larger plates adds depth and allows diners a spot for overflow - no judgement.
Serving Platters - Pull them all out. In my opinion, they all match over the holidays and they make it possible to have several options within everyone's reach.
This is the flare - go light or dare to go heavy. I always lean towards heavy.
Kitschy S + P shakers.
Candlesticks for height with low greenery arrangements like eucalyptus or evergreen clippings.
Taller floral arrangements for height with low candle votives.
Seasonal gourds, pinecones, or smaller holiday figurines
Fresh herbs and any late season blossoms you may be lucky enough to still have.
Place cards - Pinterest can come in handy here. Or, bake a small offering and put it in the center of everyone plate prior to seating so they have something to dive in to while people are still getting situated.
I could go on and on here, but that is what the seasonal food magazines at grocery store checkouts are for. We will include recipes, tips, and inspiration on our blog and social accounts all winter long, but what I will do is share some of our tips to help you easily wrap your brain around pulling together a larger dinner.
Focus on either one large main course like a roast or side of salmon, or two smaller mains like portobellos and stuffed squash or filets and scallops.
Bring all the trimmings - a couple vegetables and a carbohydrate or two.
Seasonal fruits and crudités - If you have a long table, or many hungry mouths, combine the fruits and vegetables and place on two platters on either end of your table.
Cheese and charcuterie - like the fruits and vegetables, have two smaller boards on either end if you have a larger table.
Little nibbles like nuts, pickles and olives - have a couple small bowls of these across the entire table so they are close to everyone.
Have festive drinks available, both spirits as well as non-alcoholic options.
Never ever forego a dessert - or two.
And for goodness sake, leave the wine bottles on the table for easy reach!
Please note that although everything we do is inspired by hosting gatherings for friends and loved ones, that just isn't an option at this time. Until the nation gets a serious handle on the pandemic, it is irresponsible to put those friends and loved ones at risk by hosting large family dinners and holiday parties. We will continue to encourage safe gatherings and suggest that everyone follow guidelines set by their local jurisdictions.
However, what 2020 has made clear to me is that you can live a little more, and treat yourself a little kinder while you are at home. Am I overindulging on the regular, you bet your ass I am, but I try to counter with morning runs and afternoon stretching. Does this post seem a little excessive for a small family dinner, maybe, but I do think that it is important to maintain family traditions as well as build new ones with those that you are able to hold close right now. The holiday season is bound to look a little different this year, but we are intent on making spirits bright!
If you have any ideas or traditions that you currently have or plan to start this year with your family or friends, please let us know! Be safe & healthy!