tammy forrest
RE/MAX First
8820 Blackfoot Trail SE #115
Calgary, AB
T2J 3J1 CA
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By Marla Brown; Photos by Christine Kufske

Make your Thanksgiving dinner extra special with a few creative touches.

Find Inspiration Everywhere: Utility Blankets turn into Fabulous Table Linens

The other day I was in a big box store and out of the corner of my eye I saw the perfect slate grey, in what looked like some sort of blanket. When I checked out the display, I realized they were fabulous, super-inexpensive utility blankets ($3.99 a piece!). We used them as table linens to re-use later as extra blankets for the house.

Remember, inspiration is truly everywhere, especially when you least expect it. So before you jump into planning your party, make sure you have your colour scheme figured out and the rest will start to flow. You may just find that perfect decor item while shopping for paper towels!
Rustic Charger Plates Meet Elegant Cutlery

Chargers, Exclusive Affair Rentals

OK, so how great are these charger plates made from trees that were being cut down already? Pairing these eco-friendly chargers with elegant cutlery take the rustic chic look to an entirely new level and give your table some serious personality. These charger plates can stay on the table all the way through to dessert.

Tip: When you have a casual affair, you can go against the proper etiquette of where to place your cutlery. We did a total no-no and placed our soup spoon with our dessert spoon at the top of the charger plate, as opposed to at the right side of the charger plate with the knife. It adds an extra element of uniqueness to your table. Have fun and break the rules!

Flowers Add Instant Drama 

One thing we like to keep simple are the flowers. Get inspired by your containers and colours, but keep the design basic. One type of flowers in a group makes it easy to design, grounds the table and adds instant drama. For our container, we purchased two wooden wine boxes from the liquor store and stained them ebony, to match our dark wood chairs. These can be used as containers over and over again for any party.

Tip: Purchase and arrange your flowers the day before your party, because you'll have enough going on that day. Designing your flowers the day before gives you time to enjoy going to the flower market or your local grocery or corner store and spending a few minutes looking around to see what inspires you. Another great tip: don’t be afraid to ask if they have any more flowers in their back coolers. If you are willing to purchase anywhere from 10 stems or up of one type and colour of flower, they may just have a larger pack in the back...and these are super fresh!

Simple Pillar Candles Make a Huge Statement


I am in love with these pillar candles. They have a long burn time, are the perfect width and height and accent the table so well. We purchased them from a big box grocery store at a great price point. To add some height to the table, we placed the candles on top of upside down glass vases and wrapped birch pieces inside or outside the vases. Paired with the charger plates, they add to the rustic look. Just make sure to hot glue or adhere the candles to the top of the glass so they don’t fall off.

Tip: Use the same style of candle design on different tables throughout your party to make everything come together. We had these candles on the main dining table, side table with fireplace display and dessert table.


Indoor/Outdoor Fireplaces are Living Art

These tempered glass fireplaces are new and simply, stunning. They use bio-ethanol so they burn clean and look quite sleek and sexy. We put this square version on an accent table at the end of the main dining table to ground the look. Then we paired it with pillar candles and added birch pieces to finish it off. 

Tip: Any fire or water element you have or can find to add to your decor brings your look to an entirely new level.  We call it Living Art as everyone is drawn to movement in an otherwise still environment. This fireplace is so versatile and lightweight that it can be raised on a table, left on the ground, but make sure to place it where everyone can see the flame...they are spectacular. Available at and ships across Canada.


Food: Soup Adds a Splash of Colour to the Table


Hot soup in a fresh crusty bread bowl -- yum!  This is a great way to start off your meal when the weather gets colder. Make it a decor statement by making the soup the same colour as your flower centrepiece as shown here. 

Tip: Trying to find the exact number of these bread bowls in one grocery store is no easy feat.  We suggest calling ahead to your local grocery store and pre-ordering!  Order an extra bread bowl for practice to make sure you get the hang of it.  FYI: we didn’t use the tops that we cut off in this shoot. These can be made into croutons or make toast for breakfast the day after.

Our Dessert Table is Full of Inspiration

What can we say? We love our sweets! First, we designed Thanksgiving cookies with our custom cookie maker --- white pumpkins and grey acorns and of course, a little fun factor. Gobble Gobble cookies, anyone?  We continued our tree trunk charger plates from the main dining table through to the dessert table. And adding his own charm to the party is my new puppy, 11-week-old Phineas, chilling out on the chair on the right!
To add some height, we paired our custom cookies with fall flavoured mini-cookies.  Salted caramel, pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon were the flavours for these little sweets. (How much fun was this taste test?  Beyond amazing!) Check out your local bake shops and grocery stores for whatever they have to offer up this fall season to design your own great cookie display.


We flipped over a clear plexi box to display our “cupcake pies”. If you look closely you can see that our in-house baker -- Ashley -- baked cupcakes in mini silver containers to look like pie containers, then added brown or orange candies on top and iced the "pie piping" on. This is an easy and fun way to not bake apple pie if you are short on time and they look super cute.

Behind the cupcake pies, is our corn on the cob display created with store bought caramel flavoured popcorn. Our other culinary talent, Courtney, melted marshmallows to get a Rice Krispie square consistency and then rolled the popcorn into the shape of corn on long skewers. We displayed them in a larger and taller plexi box as the backdrop of the sweet table and added dark green floral leaves to look like corn leaves.

Tip: Your dessert table can be as simple as a tray or two of fun fall-inspired cookies -- just add some height with pillar candles or taper candles and you have a fabulous look!

Giving Back
Thanksgiving is all about being grateful for what we have. Giving back to others is a great thing to do at any time of the year, but at Thanksgiving it just seems right. Download these easy labels to add another great layer of decor to your space and to help everyone remember why you're celebrating and how lucky you are.

I Am Thankful For...


It's a nice gesture to take a moment and decide what you are thankful for. On the back of each chair, attached with burnt orange ribbon, are little cards for guests to take a minute to write it down. You could also treat it as a game around the table; before dinner, everyone says one thing they are thankful for.Get the I am thankful for... printable tag.

Give To a Good Cause



A great idea for any party is to have your guests bring a donation based on your theme instead of a hostess gift. We checked with the local Food Bank, our charity for this shoot, and they are in huge need of diapers, baby food and formula. Email guests beforehand, or include it on your invitations, and ask them to bring one item for whatever charity you choose.

Have a nice place to display the items with a little "Give" sign (get the Give printable tag). This will empower your guests and create a amazing energy at your party.  We used a big rustic basket, filled with stuffing so just the top portion of the basket is used for the donations. We also have a Thanks printable tag.
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