Vintage Visual Feast Thanksgiving 2015
November 27, 2015
Every year, my favorite part of the holiday season is theme development in preparation for my Thanksgiving table . Similar to theme development for a booth display, the theme for a table should stimulate a visual feast of repeating design elements over and over.
Photograph of the Thanksgiving 2015 by Philip Cohen.
My goal each year is to reinvent our Thanksgiving table and deliver a completely different and memorable experience. Our 2015 table was inspired by vintage 1950's/60's screen printed Filkauf commercial fabric, fabric that I found in a secret, dusty, musty storage room at Direct Office Furniture in Harrisburg, PA. (Check out the Red Door Consignment Gallery for great furniture options at the same location.)
Vintage Fabric from the 1950's/60's is marked "Filkauf Inherently Fire Retardant Fabric Screen Printed".
The screen printed leaf pattern and fall colors were perfect for a Thanksgiving table. To save time I fringed the edge. It looked great.
A phenomenal stroke of good fortune, the fabric was large enough to cover the entire table for 17 people in one piece. Photo left is before setting the table...
The idea for the vintage theme began 5 months ago with the discovery and purchase of two "atomic era" (1950's) starburst candlestick holders from West Germany.
Yes they are a little weird but I loved the orange translucent colors and vintage atomic aesthetic that also reminded me of pumpkins. Then I had to find six more online. Amazingly, most of the Friedel Gesch plastic purchased online was unused, still with the original tag. Imagine, they have been sitting in a drawer for 60 years!
Orange candles weren't hard to find. Adding small sugar pumpkins boosted the orange shapes and color on the table. The sugar pumpkins will be cooked at a later date.
These vintage Libby glasses from the 1950's with gold leaf design further repeat the leaf theme of the table cloth perfectly. I bought them for a past Thanksgiving and fortunately had about 20 of them.
The gold plated flatware was my grandmother's from the 1960's. I remember when she bought it. I think she only used it once. Dishwashers and convenience-focused lifestyles really brought an end to gold leaf glasses and gold plated flatware. None of this is dishwasher safe.
All of the plates were from my collection of vintage dinnerware collected over the years. The colors were selected to match the colors in the tablecloth. The plates sat on gold chargers to repeat the gold of the flatware and gold leaf glasses.
The floral arrangements were real fall leaves with the addition of some dried orange pods. Both the leaves and orange pods echoed the tablecloth leaf motif and colors.
Left is our menu card inspired by the vintage fabric tablecloth.
Dessert included a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in the shape of leaves inspired by the tablecloth. It took a whole crew and hours of work . . . and topped off with a final touch of chocolate creativity to bring this to fruition.
The dessert crew made abstract chocolate leaves as the final touch.
The photo below shows how you make the chocolate leaf shapes.
Just paint warm chocolate on wax paper, let them cool, and peel them off.
Theme development with repetition of the visual elements works every time. Give it a try for your next holiday table or booth display.
P.S. Commercial fabric is often fire proof so it would be suitable for booth display.
E-bay and Etsy are both great resources for finding obscure items for theme development.
This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.
Thanksgiving tables from previous years:
Many images of my Thanksgiving tables can be see on Facebook albums.
Thanksgiving 2014- Setting the Table
Gelt, Gilt, and Guilt - Thanksgiving 2013
Thanksgiving Visual Feast Giving Thanks
Thanksgiving 2012 was inspired by a Mondrian color theme including the cake and cookies.
Thanksgiving 2011 followed a leaf motif including the drinking glasses and the cake with sculpted cream cheese frosting.
Thanksgiving 2009 is a traditional fall motif with leaf motif including cake and our drinking glasses with gold leaves.
THANKSGIVING 2008 was black, grey and silver.