nov. entertaining: giving thanks (and a DIY!).

Last year, on my mom's birthday, we made a whole Thanksgiving meal. It was the first time I'd ever cooked a whole bird, stuffing and the works in our house. It was December 25 - as you may recall, my mom is a Christmas baby - and this was my gift to her. I made some notes and took a few pictures in prep to share some recipes with you, this year, just in time for Thanksgiving.
thanksgiving placecards from paper{whites}
So this has kind of been a year in the making.

I cooked up a mini turkey day feast over the weekend for my family, thankful that they were our November dinner guests, for they put up with food coming and going, photo shooting and note taking. They were patient and appreciative and I was most thankful to share Saturday evening with them.
thanksgiving placecards from paper{whites}
Over the next four days, I'll be covering four dishes made, including turkey, stuffing, a side and a dessert - all that are make-ahead friendly, but in my case, were all prepped and made same day. I wasn't exhausted or stressed, and I think it's because I had a plan (and, really a cooking timeline), had made two of the four dishes before and had a great sous chef/dishwasher/babysitter. Thanks, love.

While the turkey cooked, I experimented with Thanksgiving centerpieces,which we're going to replicate next week on the big day (which, very thankfully, will not be at our tiny beach house!).

Channeling inspiration from Camille's post on The Thanksgiving Table (and, really, all her posts on the holiday entertaining topic), I arranged this pumpkin flower vase, and here's how you can do it, too.
pumpkin flower centerpiece from paper{whites}
What you need:
+ perfectly plump and relatively even (at the base) pumpkin
+ newspaper, knife/carving utensils and spoon
+ low bowl or round vase that will fit inside your pumpkin (one of these bowls worked great for me)
+ wet floral foam which you can pick up at your local craft store (not to be confused with dry floral foam (for dried flowers) that does not require water, obv.)
+ assortment of big, medium-sized and filler-sized flowers
+ water

Here's the step-by-step:
1. Spread out newspapers on your work surface.
pumpkin flower centerpiece DIY from paper{whites}
2. Using a serrated or very sharp knife, cut around the stem of the pumpkin. You can flip your bowl or vase upside-down to use as a tracing guide, or just eye-ball it. Remove the stem and the seeds/guts with a spoon and shave the interior of the opening so you can nestle your bowl/vase inside.

3. Cut down floral foam and squeeze it to fit in your vessel. It's better if it's a hair to big. It will scrunch and mold as needed. And then set/push/really shove both down into the base of the pumpkin.

Do not fill vase with water at this point; I've found floral foam works best when dry. You can sprinkle some flower food over the foam and bowl, if you like.
pumpkin flower centerpiece DIY from paper{whites}
4. Start filling in with flowers - with the big blooms first; then the medium-sized; then the filler. While the floral foam is soft, you want to guide your stems in with care so they don't snap. The foam is also very forgiving. If you don't like how something looks, just remove and place elsewhere. If you've never used floral foam before, you are in for a treat. It makes arranging so easy.

As you would do with hand-tie bouquets, shift the pumpkin around constantly so you can see it from all angles.
pumpkin flower centerpiece DIY from paper{whites}
From our local Vons, I picked up two hydrangea, alstroemeria and one bunch of cheap, drape-y filler. Based on what the market had, I drifted off into a white, pale pink, wisteria and sage palette. Very earthy and dreamy.

5. Stand back, admire and then fill the bowl/vase carefully with water (a skinny watering can works well - it's kind of like watering your Christmas tree - it's not totally easy once the flowers are in but it's not impossible).
pumpkin flower centerpiece DIY from paper{whites}
Come back tomorrow - I'll be starting with the main attraction: the turkey!

I also experimented with place card ideas; the tiny (business-card sized!) personalized thank you notes and envelopes pictured above are from the Martha Stewart line at your local Jo-Ann

PS: I would be remiss not to acknowledge Veteran's Day today. I am so very grateful to so many who serve and have served, including one very important husband and father who just returned from a 6-month deployment. Welcome home, Lt. Yonkman. And thank you (to all three of you!).


Kirsten said...

Those flowers....so lovely! Love this idea! Can't wait to hear about the turkey:).

Garden, Home and Party said...

That is beautiful, I'm going to borrow your idea for our T-day dinner at Kevin's and Sarah's. Thanks for this. Oh, and your photography has gone from fabulous to spectacular!

paper{whites} said...

Thank you, Karen and Kirsten! I love having floral left-overs from get-togethers and this one is a special treat!