Friday, November 4, 2016

DIY Thanksgiving Centerpiece -- Book-Style

Spending time with family is pretty much the hallmark of every commercial, TV show, and movie that involves the holidays. This reflected reality for my husband, who grew up surrounded by an enormous extended family that got together for not just the holidays, but for any reason to spend time together and eat food.

Me? I grew up in the military. Spending lots of time with extended relatives? That's adorable.

I don't know a single person who actually flies the planes.

My parents trucked us back to Alabama for a few holidays throughout the years, but we spent most Thanksgivings and Christmas’ at home. And you know what?

I still hate going home for the holidays.

It’s not because I don’t want to see loved ones, or because my own family is now so spread out it’s impossible to get us all together at once, it’s because it’s fucking stressful. When you don’t live near family and then go back for a visit, you’re expected to join in on every activity, to stay throughout the entire event, and to generally run yourselves and your kids ragged to make everyone happy. I love our families, but please. Fuck that.

So we do our own military-style holidays at home. None of us have family nearby, so every Thanksgiving I cook up a Turkey and a side or two, then open our doors to friends and anyone else who doesn’t have a place to go. We celebrate potluck style and usually have more sides, desserts, and alcohol than we know what to do with. Christmas is the same. No one to chill with? Come over after we open presents! I’ll make you some fajitas because Jesus Christ, I just made a turkey last month and it’s not happening again.

This Thanksgiving is no exception to my open-door policy, but there’s an added bonus – my parents will be here! I haven’t seen my parents in two years and am counting down the days till their flight lands.

Since I’ll be hosting several of our friends, anyone else who might need a place to go, and my parents, I’m trying to make a bigger effort presentation-wise. OK, OK, it’s mostly for my parents. My dad was the kind of person who vacuumed the ceiling while I was growing up and this is a blatant attempt to impress them. Mom, if you’re reading this, I promise I’ll clean the bathrooms before you get here.

I decided I wanted a book-themed Thanksgiving centerpiece because, well, why not? Honestly I knew I could use it as an excuse to either buy a new book or notebook. It was also the perfect reason to go to Target, because I have a problem and am not ashamed to acknowledge it. I also have no interest in fixing it.

<-- These are the items I used to create my on-a-budget centerpiece, and the price came out to just about $20. I picked up a small basket, a wooden cutting board-style display, a matching notebook (the priciest item on the list), wooden leaves, a set of warm LED lights, and a new table runner. It was important that I went with a color scheme that matched a tablecloth I already owned, because I both yearn to impress my parents and am also cheap as hell.

Therapy let thy will be done. Or, you know, drinking coffee and having late night conversations with the husband. Same thing, right? Too bad insurance won't reimburse our costs for the latter.

Overall, I think it turned out pretty good. I'm clearly not winning any awards here, but it gives the table a focal point and bonus, I got a new notebook.

The LED lights are woven throughout the basket, which is artfully stuffed with white tissue paper,
because tulle was $3.

And before anyone gets the wrong idea and thinks that I'm way more into housework than I actually am, this is what my adjoining kitchen looked like during the process:

Dishes are the worst.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Do you have annual family traditions or are do you just go with the flow?


  1. I agree with you--the older I get, the more I see the value in staying home for the holidays. We'll be going to my mother-in-laws. Fortunately, we usually spend most of the time there while we're visiting. She's not much for traveling around to visit people!

    1. That must be nice! Honestly, just sitting around and relaxing is one of my favorite ways to spend time with family. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving at your in-laws' house!