Last weekend I flew back to where I grew up in central Kansas for a baby shower, and while I was back, I couldn't resist the temptation to get together with my cousin Leslie, mom, and old friend and photographer Shannon to put together a little rustic Kansas-inspired Thanksgiving photoshoot for you! We shot it at our family's hunting cabin, complete with antlers and pheasant feathers that were found on the land, a dining table made from salvaged wood from my great grandparents barn, and my grandma's amazing orange carnival glass dishes. Read on to learn how to bring this rustic look to life at your own table this Thanksgiving!
1. Hang a banner to add instant celebratory vibe and to remind everyone of the reason for the gathering. There are tons of cute ones out there, like these from Etsy, and this garland or wreath from paper source. They're also great because they fold up pretty small to store until next year!
2. Gratitude Jar Centerpiece:
Keep the foucs of the day on giving thanks by making the centerpiece a Gratitude bowl! My mom came up with this idea by seeing a similar type bowl in a catalog that was about $80. Her DIY solutinon? By a $5 fishbowl from walmart and take it to your local engraver like she did where they can engrave the word "Gratitude" on it for about $10. For the full post on this, check it out here.
3. Gratitude Note Card Tradition:
Now this is my favorite part of this whole shoot, because what you do with that jar is have everyone write down on a card what they are thankful for and put it in the jar. Check out these from Paper Source or these adorable downloadable templates from Etsy that you can print at home for just $5. Later during dinner have the kids pull them out one by one and read them aloud, and have everyone guess who wrote which one. We often save cards from years past and have fun rereading them every year.
4. Moss Table Runner DIY:
Make a moss table runner by buying 4 bags of moss from the indoor garden section at your home depot. Pick out the best green peices; this part can be messy so I reccomend doing it outdoors or in the garage. Lay them out out on a table the size a table runner would be and wipe up any stray pieces with a wet washcloth. Tuck rustic elements into it like squirrels, antlers, votive candles, pinecones, little fox salt and pepper shakers, you get the idea!
5. No more crooked tapered candles!
One of my best tricks from doing event design for Weddings is to use a dab of hot glue to secure wobbley tapered candles in place. To create our rustic woodlands look, make a little hole in the moss "table-runner", place a tapered candlestick (in a holder) in it, and place little extra pieces of moss around it to hide the holder.
6. Start a fun place card tradition.
Instead of names on the placecards, write 3 adjectives that describe that person (you can write the name on the back/inside as a back up), then have guests walk around and try to guess which one is theirs. It's a great way to get everyone in a great mood by sharing positive affirmations about each other. My mom will often do the first two as serious adjectives, like kind, generous, faithful, patient, etc, and will often do a silly one as the last one, like "loves coconut cream pie" or "KSU's #1 fan." Like the gratitude note cards and banner, you can find these at most stores like World Market, Target, Paper Source, and lots of great ones on Etsy, including ones to instantly download and just print at home yourself.
7. Add feathers to the decor!
Nothing says thanksgiving like some feathers. We found ours on our farmland from the local pheasants, but you can buy them at any craft store or order them online from Amazon. They are great tucked into flower arrangments, or in a smaller vessel all on their own, or tucked into napkin rings like we did.
8. Incorporate family antiques:
As much as I love the modern new lines that come out every year in stores for Thanksgiving, it seems more appropriate to use dishes & decor that have meaning, like these antique orange carnival glass plates from my great grandma. Becuase they are handmade, each one is a little different, and I just love that about them! Using family heirlooms on the table is a great way to honor those family members no longer here with us and often sparks a converstaion recalling our favorite memories of them. That sounds like a much better way to me to keep the meaning in this special holiday than spending big bucks on mass produced dishes that everyone else will be using that year too.
9. Glitter Mason Jars Candle Holders:
This is a great project to get the kids involved in the decor! Just take some jars, paint mod podge in vertical or horizontal stripes (one at a time), and pour glitter over it. Allow to dry 24 hours. We used brown, orange and gold glitter for Thanksgiving buy any colors would work! An empty cardboard box (about 16" by 20") makes a great are to do this project in so the excess glitter just stays in the box.
10. Thanksgiving Wine Corks Hostess Gift DIY:
Here's a simple DIY to dress up your wine to match the holiday! Simply take a few little fall themed figurines (we got ours at the Dollar Store), add a dab of hot glue, and press them onto some wine corks. This is a great way to dress up your bottles to go along with the holiday, or makes a great hostess gift.
Here are a few snaps of the food portion of this shoot:
Check out this recipe for Thanksgiving Farm Style Dressing!
This recipe for Sweet Potato Souffle with Pecan Crumble will make a sweet potato lover out of anyone!
After the shoot I just had to sit down and eat a whole one myself.
Shop the Shoot:
Ramekins, napkins, and turkey napkin rings from World Market.
And that's a wrap on our Thanksgiving shoot at the cabin! Did you use any of these ideas for Thanksgiving this year? We'd love to hear about it! Share with us how it went or any photos of the projects on our Facebook page!