As we all begin to busy ourselves in the kitchen, preparing Thanksgiving meals for friends and family we hope will live on in the memories of our guests well beyond tomorrow, I thought it might be nice to take a moment and remember a Thanksgiving from recent years that continues to inspire me today. This one I'd been planning for months, and though it was to be hosted by my friends Hannah and Michael Gorman at their home in Bedford, New York, I'd volunteered to set the table and decorate the room, while Hannah was in charge of all the cooking. At that time, I was with House Beautiful magazine, producing a column called Weekend Shopper, in which I'd scour flea markets around the country, finding new ways to use old things. Turns out, Thanksgiving at Hannah's would be the perfect place for a story all about finding inspiration for holiday entertaining. And what better place to look than the flea market? Here in New York, I have such fond memories of the old one on 26th Street in Chelsea, where in one booth I found this beautiful set of transferware plates in all the gold, brown and ochre colors of season.
They're Mason china from England, six plates in all, with a gorgeous floral branch pattern I love.
In another booth, I happened to find this set of amber depression glass. It's a centerpiece bowl, together with two candlesticks. The amber I thought worked so beautifully with the warm yellow and brown colors in the plates.
Now it was time to raid my own cabinets for any china, silver, glassware and linens to mix in with my new finds from the flea market. The colors in the plates had already inspired my palette, so to bring in a bit of natural texture, I chose serving pieces and flatware in bone, horn, French Ivory and Bakelite.
Mixing, more than matching, is my favorite way to entertain, so for the glassware, I chose etched pressed glass goblets, all of them different and collected over time but that together look cohesive.
Here's the finished flower arrangement in the amber glass centerpiece. From the plates that first inspired my table, I chose a palette of roses—burnt orange, umber, ochre and rust—that I thought worked well with the horn and Bakelite flatware.
Check out the final shot of the room before we all sat down to dinner! For the linens, I chose a simple striped tablecloth, paired with napkins in an earthy rust. The mantel I decorated with all kinds of seasonal gourds, pumpkins and corn husks.
Here's a detail of the table setting. As you can see, I also made several individual flower arrangements, just to fill in gaps where the table looked sparse. A low arrangement at each setting is such a great way of making your guests feel special and your meal more memorable. I especially love how the plates that inspired my palette take center stage when layered with simple patterns and harmonious colors.
And so, wherever you find inspiration this week and all throughout the holidays, whether at the flea market or farmer's market, the bodega at the end of the block or even your own backyard, take it from me: Creating fond memories is all in the details, and it's the simplest ones your family and friends will remember for years to come.