The Cuban Hipster Thanksgiving

When I host family or friends for a big, elaborate dinner, my delight is in designing the tablescapes.

My job, as I see it, is to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, but not get too hung up on making things so department-store-perfect that it feels too cold and impersonal. It's fun for me to set a pretty table. It's much more fun to make the people who come into my home feel that they are truly welcome.

Originally, I wanted real chalkboard tablecloths so that we could write on them or play tic-tac-toe or whatever. My daughter, Amy Kikita and I spent a good long time on Pinterest, getting ideas and pinning inspiration. (If you're on Pinterest and you're not already following me, you totally should! Here's my link.)

We found that a roll of chalkboard cloth was a bit too pricey, so we attempted to paint sections of kraft paper with chalkboard paint. The result was not at all satisfying.

I ended up going with a 50 foot roll of black, glossy paper that I found at Hobby Lobby that we then cut and pieced together to cover the tables. We used Simply Tacky to hold them in place.

(Note: They just opened a Hobby Lobby in our area code recently and I am super inspired every time I go in there. They have everything! Who knew?)

Chalkboard settings

I was originally going to tag the glasses with each person's name because it's super important to me that everyone has their place at the table, so place cards are always at the top of my list. Amy suggested we just paint "plate circles" and write their names right on the chalkboard tablecloth paper. Genius.

Chalkboard table

I used one of my plates as a guide and just drew a circle at each place, then wrote in the person's name in the center. I used White Chalk Markers which dried quickly and looked really fun and friendly. So here we were on our way to the most Hipstery Thanksgiving ever.

Chalkboard table settings

I didn't worry too much about making the circles perfect, as you can see.

On each table for the centerpieces, I put the silverware and napkins in caddies and dropped the forks, knives, and spoons in mason jars with tags to finish off the cool look.

Succulents & silverware

I had 32 people here. THIRTY-TWO. Of course, we had to move furniture to fit them all into our freakishly small cottage-sized home.

Napkin and silverware caddie

I had three tables set. One was our regular dining table which seats six. The second was actually created by putting two eight foot long tables together which seated fourteen. (We had to move furniture out of our living room to do this, but that's not important right now. Did I mention my house was freakishly small?) And my beautiful farm table, which lives outside on the patio, seated twelve. The kids were seated alongside the adults. No kids table for them this time.

Farm table

I added some succulents in baskets next to the caddies. And added a gratitude quote in a decorative mini picture frame. We cut some branches from the green belt across the street and added those for color and texture. So hipster, no?

Succulent centerpiece 2

We set out the tall altar candles (I picked them up at our local Target store). We put the napkins in tin buckets and tea lights in mini mason jars and tin cans. Tin cans, people! I actually washed out tin cans to use on my table!

I was worried my mother was going to have a stroke when she saw this whole set up, but she was delighted and amazed at how elegant the whole thing looked in spite of the simple (read "barbarian") touches. (Win!)

Succulent centerpiece

There were two (!) turkeys and lots of delicious sides and plenty of desserts. I opted for just a plain white cloth for the food table and made the chalkboard menu board the focal point to keep with my chalkboard theme.

Thanksgiving menu

My family came early and stayed late. And there was sooo much food left over, as there always is. We Cubans are "exajerados" when it comes to food, am I right? (I'm right.)

So, I had made sure everyone was able to take home some leftovers. I ordered the take out boxes from an online supply place and added chalk tags.

Leftover boxes

 The consensus was that a good time was had by all. Even the not-so-hipsters.

The family