Winter has arrived and it’s cold out there. When I think of the perfect chilly day, I imagine it beginning with me curled up with breakfast in bed and ending with me sitting around a fireplace in the company of friends, wine in hand after a warm hearty meal.
Today I’m sharing the set-up we had for this past Thanksgiving dinner. It was humble and sweet, casual and chic, and super cozy. And best of all, the decor didn’t cost me anything.
As I was editing these pictures while listening to 50’s oldies Christmas, I felt it was somehow necessary to present these in black and white. And I’m glad I did. Looking at these pictures of us in our practically empty living room (the little furniture we have was recently moved into our new sunroom) from this perspective really made me feel connected to the history of my home, built in 1953. So while you’re reading this, press play to Tony Bennett’s “Rags to Riches,” the hit song from that year, and enjoy our little dinner party, plus a few tips for creating your own little cozy dinner gathering.
We have a small dining table that can seat 4, but for our Thanksgiving guests we needed some more space and more chairs. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to sit on the floor.” I said to my husband, completely serious. I expected him to think I was out-of-my-mind-crazy. I mean, Thanksgiving dinner, on the floor? I thought I was crazy. But he immediately saw the same vision I did: comfy pillows on the floor around a low table in front of the fireplace. Carefree yet still classy, and the perfect solution for entertaining during our chaotic renovation life.
So here’s how it turned out. And let me just say, this is not a how-to-style post. I don’t feel I did any real styling here; the objects on the fireplace never got properly arranged as I was too busy chasing my toddler out of the kitchen. But that’s sort of the point to this whole arrangement anyways—it’s bohemian and intentionally a little disordered.
I oriented our two rugs in the middle of the room centered on the fireplace, and layered them. Then the men brought in nine boxes of hardwood flooring (eventually to get installed in the hallways and kitchen) and stacked them on the rugs. I threw two IKEA linen curtains over it and, voila, we had our low table. The long, heavy boxes really were perfect! I brought in our sofa cushions and some other pillows to create the seating. I also hung a pendant light that I got from CB2 years ago (now discontinued, but here’s some others) over the table.
I was hoping to get our fireplace in working order in time for the holidays, but it wasn’t something a few candles and white string lights couldn’t fix. We had a big roll of brown kraft paper lying around that we use during house projects, so I rolled it out along the table as a table runner. I put out a little jar with Sharpie markers so that we could doodle on the paper and write down the things we were grateful for.
I asked my friend over at East West Vintage Rentals to help me with the dishes and glasses because I didn’t have enough to pull off six place settings. The plates, flatware, and glasses were a mixed lot of mismatched vintage pieces, in keeping with the motley look I was going for.
Lastly, my sister stepped outside to source a few sprigs to fill little antique jars and bottles to create the centerpieces. Nothing fancy or formal. This was just family and friends.
So, did you listen to the song? I think I’ll call this my Rags to Riches dinner party. The riches of course being the great group around the table. It was humble and that simplicity is what made it very comfortable and memorable. Just how Thanksgiving should be.
If you just moved in to your home and don’t have much furniture yet, or are in the middle of renovating like we are, don’t feel like you can’t host a good party. You don’t need much, just some creativity.
For the table. Use boxes to create a table and curtains for the tablecloth. You could also unscrew legs from a farmhouse table and just use the top, or maybe use an old door! Or stacks of books! A surface can be created using lots of things.
For the seating. Throw some cushions, poufs, and pillows around for the seating. Or maybe just throw down some yoga mats!
For the lighting. Use whatever you can to create some mood-lighting. If you have a real fire in the fireplace, great. Otherwise votive candles and white string lights create a warm and intimate space. A simple pendant light over the table helps to frame the area and give direct light.
For the tablescape. Use mismatched plates and little jars for vases, like mason jars or old medicine bottles. Go to the backyard to find clippings of flowers and branches for centerpieces. Roll out some kraft paper like we did for a runner to draw on. It can work for so many holidays. Write down resolutions for a new year’s party or birthday wishes at a birthday dinner. After dinner, you can play Pictionary!
Many cultures sit on the floor for meals, and for good reason. Be loose and free for your next party, and above all stay warm this winter next to dear friends.