Creative ideas for your holiday table

Back in mid July, I was asked by friend and writer Sarah Stebbins to pitch a few imaginative creations for a story for Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. She wanted thoughts for a Thanksgiving table–including kid-friendly options–things like centerpieces and simple projects. The idea was that it had to be quick, something you could do in less than 30 minutes and be proud to put on the table.
Rachael Ray November issue
Well, the November 2013 issue is on newsstands now, and I am thrilled to announce that Wendy James Designs is part of this story. It is an incredible honor to be featured with event designers like David Stark (his apple idea, below, is so simple and fun), TV personalities like Clinton Kelly (I am more than a little obsessed with his jewel-tone gourds) and my favorite environmental lifestyle expert, Danny Seo, who creatively repurposed a thrift-store find. Man after my own heart.
Rachael Ray page
My easy decor gets a thumbs-up from the kids’ table. Add googly eyes and a paper beak to inexpensive striped kids’ gloves, fatten (er, fill) with candy and tie with a ribbon (pictured in the bottom left corner of this page).
My Rachael Ray page

Pick up the November issue to sift through 15 fun ideas or keep reading and try one of mine that didn’t make the magazine, like these DIY polka-dot napkins, inspired by the ones pictured below from Anthropologie. (Dotted napkin photo courtesy of

Polka-dot napkins

1. Wash and iron cotton/polyester blend napkins. Don’t use fabric softener.

2. Put a piece of cardboard under the napkin to protect your work surface.

3. Dip a flat unused pencil eraser into gold fabric paint, dab on a clean paper towel once or twice and then onto your napkin.

4. Repeat this process, dotting away in whatever pattern you like.

I opt for plain white dinnerware because I tell myself that whatever I cook–no matter how messy or unattractive–looks better when served on white. But for dinner parties and holidays, sometimes I dress it up. For Thanksgiving, try tucking one large autumn leaf or a collage of a few smaller fall leaves between your a white dinner plate and a clear one.

Leaf platesMake your own tiered trays and serving pieces. I did something similar with a dinner plate and candlesticks to give a client more room to merchandise makeup compacts, but you could easily do this with rustic tree slabs, inexpensive candlesticks and epoxy that’s suitable for wood and glass.

Tiered traysTell me: How are you decorating your holiday table?