A Thanksgiving Table Inspired by Goldenrod

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
I’m wearing the Everyday Beautiful A-Line Apron Wrap Skirt from Yum Yum Smile Shop

There’s no denying that this Thanksgiving is different, but to me it feels more authentic. Giving thanks for the blessings we have in our lives without the worry of who’s bringing what to put on the table (note: never let your sister be in charge of the mashed potatoes). This year is about a meal shared with my immediate family and a couple of equally minded “safe” friends. We have only spent time in the presence of each other for months and months, so I wanted to take us to a different place -to have a special happy memory of  Thanksgiving 2020. If you follow me on instagram you’ll know there’s a majestic spot just a few miles south of our home where quail thrive among the tall grasses and a certain crusty bird dog works hard to find them. This time of year, the goldenrod is prolific and stunning and the happiest shade of mustard yellow in this perfect spot -it served as my inspiration.

This Thanksgiving, on a mowed path surrounded by tall grasses and mustard medicinal weeds, this family of 8 will share a delicious meal, give thanks for how fortunate we are and raise a glass to those that others have lost.

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Love is in the details…
Table Linens: Floral flat sheets lay over two simple work tables and then topped by yardage of mustard colored linen fabric. Finally, 4 table runners were sewn from storied scraps of fabric into a patchwork pattern and were draped over the width of the table top. Two people sitting across from each other at the table shared one runner.
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Place Settings -Dishware, Flatware and Napkins: To continue with the homespun chic feel of this table, I chose to use mix and match vintage and antique china along with a mismatch of antique silver flatware. The patterns on the china worked beautifully against the patchwork quilt and added even more layers of storytelling. With all the busyness of the runner and china I knew I wanted to use a more subdued yet organic napkin. I chose the natural colored linen pulled from the Agen napkin set from Yum Yum Smile Shop.
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Place Cards: Thick card stock printed with the names of each guest were cut into small ribbon like pieces. A hole was punched at the end of each piece and a small strand
of green twine was threaded through the hole and tied to a boutineer-sized bundle of goldenrod.
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Flowers and Vases: I’m a believer of using what grows around you any chance you can. Naturally, it saves on cost, but more importantly it brings the season to the table. This time of year in Coastal Georgia, goldenrod is prolific. I let it and my new Mustard Colored A-line Apron Wrap Skirt inform the color pops! For vases, I mixed a tin can craft (new diy blog post to follow) with my collection of old mustard tins and biscuit tins. Mixing the two, I ran them down the middle of the table among the place settings and then filled with low bunches of the beautiful goldenrod.
Fun Fact: Goldenrod does NOT cause seasonal allergies. Some confuse it with ragweed which is a real problem. You would never want to sit a table with any wild floral that could potentially light a guest up!
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I hope my take on Thanksgiving gives you inspiration to create something a little different this year -a table layered with stories and surrounded by love.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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She Wanted a Beetlejuice-inspired Birthday Party

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey 

A small group of friends from all over the United States gathered together in Savannah, GA for a Beetlejuice themed birthday celebration. The client/guest of honor contacted me to design the dinner table at a boutique hotel where the event would be taking place. When I spoke with the client about the party, her only direction was “You do you. I’m looking for a Libbie Summers take on the dinner scene in the movie”.  When I pushed her further, she mentioned how funny Wynona Ryder’s character, Lydia Deetz, was when she was wearing black lace over her face…and THAT nugget is where the ideation for the table design began.

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For Cocktails: Guests arrived for specialty cocktails in the downstairs lounge of the hotel where they opened an antique dictionary the size of Montana to choose their drink. Prayer candles ran down the bar to add just the right amount of light (see craft below).
For Dinner: Guests walked through draped black lace to enter the space.
The table was layered with a rich grey velvet and then topped with black lace.
Antique silver candle sticks ran down the middle of the table while lace covered led lights were dimly lit overhead.
Fruit and vegetables painted black were wrapped around the candle sticks as beetles peeked around the corners when guests weren’t looking.
Dark grey linens from the Yum Yum Smile Shop were at each place setting with a simply printed menu card.
Facing each guest…propped on a vintage book was a floral head draped in black lace. (NOTE: Staff removed heads before dinner service began and placed them against the wall behind each chair…again creepy cool.)

Craft Takeaways: 
1. Freaky Chic Florals: At each place setting and as the floral element, styrofoam heads were decoupaged with cut up prints of Dutch still life paintings. The day of the party, humble florals (there was a budget here) were pinned into the heads as hairstyles. Some heads were lit with small twinkle lights among the flowers. Finally, black lace was draped over each head before guests arrived.
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2. Beetlejuice Character Prayer Candles: Inexpensive prayer candles were used to make these fun character candles for the cocktail portion of this party. Labels were soaked off the original candles (found in the grocery story at $1.50 each) in hot water and characters from the movie were printed out on regular printer paper and decoupaged using Modge Podge onto the outside of the candles. Make sure to coat the entire candle, even the parts that don’t have the picture on them.
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Prayer Candle Crafts, Libbie Summers,

She said “This party was EVERYTHING. It was a better party than my first wedding.”
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Fresh Orange Centerpiece

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Cuisine Apron in White Linen from Libbie Summers Yum Yum Smile Shop
Orange Gingham Trimmed Linen Napkin from Libbie Summers Yum Yum Smile Shop

While your cake is baking, there’s time to make a sweet zesty little centerpiece.
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Fresh Orange Centerpiece
makes 1

What you need:
1 quart wide-mouth mason jar or other clear sided jar
1 clear juice glass or small clear jar that will fit inside the larger jar
1 par scissors
2 oranges, sliced
1 small grouping of orange, yellow and white flowers
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or other herbs/greens
1 small rubber band
1 piece ribbon, jute or twine for tying around neck of jar

What to do:
1. Place the small juice glass or small jar inside the larger jar. (NOTE: You can use putty or tape on the bottom of the juice glass to keep it in place) 2. place orange slices around and down the sides of the large jar between it and the smaller juice glass/jar. The small jar will keep them in place.
3. Make your flower arrangement by grouping the flowers and rosemary together into a sweet bouquet (Don’t overthink this…it will be adorable). Cut ends just long enough to fit inside the juice glass and secure ends with a rubber band.
4. Fill juice glass with water and place bouquet in it. Adjust flowers as needed.
5. Tie ribbon, jute or twine around the neck of the large jar.
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DIY: Candy Cane-inspired Holiday Table

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

A simple red and white candy cane inspired this fabulously festive (and fun) holiday table! It checks all the boxes…inspirational (yes), attainable (YES, anyone can do it) and affordable (yes, minimal dollars spent).

Here’s How You Can Do It!
Step 1: Make a Tablecloth (create a woven ribbon “tablecloth”)
Lengths of inexpensive holiday ribbon were cut to run the length of the table and taped securely under the edge. My table was white so I love the idea of using the white as part of the pattern, so I left space between the ribbons. Then going the width of the table more of the same ribbon was cut as well as widths of a coordinating bandana ribbon. Then the ribbon was woven (under and over/alternating) into the already taped ribbon. Once each piece has been woven, adhere under the edge with tape.
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Step 2: Make a Centerpiece (we made “kissing balls” out of starlight mints). I hot glued starlight mints onto a varying sizes of styrofoam balls that had been painted with red craft paint (optional). You could also use other soft candy and pin the candy to the styrofoam ball with long straight pins.  Soooo much fun drama. The balls were placed on old milk glass as holders for elevation and some just on the table.
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Step 3: Set the table.
Since the woven ribbon tablecloth and centerpieces are so over-the-top, I wanted to keep the place setting fairly neutral. I used hand thrown white dinner plates, simple white-handled flatware, clear tall cut-glass water glasses and pink champagne glasses. To bring the bandana ribbon into the rest of the setting, I used a ric-rack trimmed red bandana from the Yum Yum Smile Shop as each napkin. For the name card, I wrote my guests name on white paper cut into a tree shape and tied it onto a peppermint stick with red and white baker’s twine.
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Finally, add a little extra candy cane flare with candy canes as glass “garnishes”.
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DIY: BIG WOW Handmade Holiday Garland on a Budget

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Location: The Paxton House

Need a show stopping garland for your staircase bannister? I did this recently for a holiday launch party for my Yum Yum Smile Shop culinary salon line at The Paxton House in Thomasville, GA. Decorating is easy when you start with a beautiful place like The Paxton House –an historic inn that is modern and colorful and cool like its owners Carol and Charlie. The goal was to create a big WOW when guests arrived that was inspirational, attainable and affordable (the three most important things when I set out to design an event). I used solid colored wrapping paper and stuck with pink ribbon to coordinate with the Yum Yum Smile Shop feel, but you could use anything! I’d love this in paper of big buffalo plaid checks or vintage holiday papers or fancy metallic papers. Your imagination is the most important thing you’ll need, the rest is easy. Here’s how I did it.

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What you need: 
Yardage of ribbon for bannister wrap and packages (I used two different colors of satin ribbon, but you could use all the same color)
Empty Cardboard Boxes (varying in size), The lighter the box the better!
Wrapping Paper
Fresh Greenery with long branches, I gathered various kinds of greens from the garden. (you could use artificial…but why?) (PS, you’ll need a lot)
Scissors
Tape

What to do:
1. At the top of your bannister, tie one end of a roll of satin ribbon and working your way down the steps, TIGHTLY wrap the ribbon around the bannister. Tie it securely at the bottom of the bannister.
Note: I used satin ribbon so I wouldn’t harm the historic staircase in any way. If you wrap the ribbon tight enough around the bannister, it will stay secure enough to hold the weight of the boxes and greens very easily.
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2. Determine how many packages you’ll need for the size of your bannister and based on the size of your boxes. Wrap your packages and tie each with a satin ribbon that has been tightly crossed in the back and brought to the top to tie in a bow. You’ll need the ribbon secure to the package when attaching to the bannister.
3. Cut one 18″ piece of ribbon for each package you wrap. (you may need more for larger boxes, but wait until you get that far)
4. Working from the top and smallest to largest box, use the extra piece of ribbon you cut and thread it through the cross of ribbons on the bottom of the package. Then, thread it through the ribbon you have tightly wrapped around the bannister. Wrap it around the bannister and tie it off in a tight bow to hold the package in place (make sure to tie them off going different directions, they will naturally fall into place). You may see this ribbon, so make it pretty!
5. Continue tying packages onto the bannister (leaving a few inches in between and increasing the spacing as you move down the bannister).
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6. Thread your greens through the ribbon wrapped around the bannister in between the packages. Trim any long branches so they don’t stick out. Also, add a few greens to the top of your packages, it will look like the greens are growing all over the gifts! Make sure to go down the steps and look at the greens from all angles. Fill in any holes you see with greenery.
7. As a bonus (which I didn’t have time to do for this event). I would love to see a stack of packages at the bottom of the steps (on the bannister side).
8. Not only was this a gorgeous and inspiring focal decoration, it served as a great “backdrop” for party pics from the event! Here’s my hostess Carol Whitney in her pink velvet blazer. The coolest innkeeper in all the land.
Carol Whitney, The Paxton House, Thomasville, Georgia, Yum Yum Smile Shop, Libbie Summers, Gift Garland, Holiday Gift Garland

 

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