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The Budget-Friendly, DIY Thanksgiving Tablescape We Are All Stealing Ideas From (I Mean, Look At It!)

It’s been a month since the loft reveal and I’m so happy to be back on here sharing another fun project with you all – my Thanksgiving tablescape! I can’t believe it’s already the holiday season… probably because it’s still 80 degrees in LA. 

As an interior stylist / aspiring interior designer the holidays are the perfect opportunity to flex my creative muscles by decorating for gatherings! 

This year is my partner, Jordan’s, and my first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner and honestly, I’m more focused on decorating the tablescape than cooking the actual food. Any tips on how to cook a turkey… asking for a friend.

For the tablescape, I wanted to go outside of the box and attempt some DIY’s like building a plaster dining table from scratch. My vision for the tablescape was to include both vintage and new, neutral and colorful. I love the holiday’s but I’m not one to put decorative turkeys or “Thankful” signs everywhere. (Not that those decorations aren’t cute – just not my vibe) So, I embraced the challenge to create a holiday tablescape without the obvious Thanksgiving decor. Now, let’s dive into the DIYs:

DIY Plaster Dining Table

I’ve always wanted to build my own table. Since we have a round table that sits 4 and we’re having family over, we knew we needed a table that could sit everyone. Instead of buying a fold-out table or renting one, I figured if I’m gonna build a table it’s now or never. 

I decided to make a white plaster table to brighten up the space and because I love the texture of plaster. I even decided to turn our “bedroom” into a dining room for the time being. A perk of living in a loft is having enough space to rearrange freely.

Now, I’m not gonna lie, this DIY was the most difficult. I am no carpenter. Last year, I attempted to make Jordan a bench and when he picked it up it fell apart. 

“What did you use to secure it?” Jordan asked. I laughed and said, “Gorilla Glue.” Clearly, not my finest DIY moment.

Anyways, this time around I got myself a screw gun and REAL screws. Look at me now! I got all the supplies (lumbar, screws, and plaster) from Home Depot for $150! I told them my cut list and they even cut the pieces for me. For measurements, I just googled “average table height” and that’s how I came up with my cut list. The table length is 8 feet long and the legs are 30’’ tall.

I used a screw gun and screwed the legs into the surface of the table. Since I was covering the table with plaster, I decided it would be easier to screw the screws from the top. Once I had it all built, I applied the plaster. I used Plaster of Paris – all you need is to add water, mix, then apply. Make sure you don’t add too much water otherwise you won’t get a thick enough consistency. It’s definitely the messiest part of this DIY, so make sure you set down a tarp. I used a plaster knife to smooth/shape the plaster how I wanted. The plaster dries pretty fast so after about an hour or two of drying I painted it white to brighten it up. 

Sidenote: If you decide to make a plaster table make sure you apply a sealer after, otherwise the plaster will chip and fall right off. 

DIY Hanging Flowers

This is easy and so affordable! I went to the LA flower market and got all different types of flowers. I tied bouquets with twine then hung them from the ceiling above the table. I wanted to create a mini “floral art installation.” This was my favorite part of the decorating process. I decided to do different bouquets with the same flowers to create more contrast but also have variety. 

DIY Table Flower Arrangements

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to experiment with new and vintage, neutral, and bold colors. Since I decided to do a white table with neutral plates, napkins (vintage), and runner I wanted the flowers to be bold and bright. 

Flower Styling Tip: Choose a color story, select different-sized flowers, mix some of them together and have a few single-flower arrangements that look sculptural.

DIY Name Cards

I went to a local thrift shop and bought vintage glassware for under $15, then I tied name tags I stamped around the wineglass. This was easy and so cute. I also scored vintage linen napkins for 50c. Lucky day! 

Glassware Styling Tip: If you don’t have cider for your Thanksgiving photoshoot, use whiskey and Coors Light. It works every time 😉 

DIY Charcuterie Board

I bought wooden charcuterie boards from Crate & Barrel that were the perfect touch for my neutral and bold, vintage, and new theme I had going. A tip for charcuterie – throw an herb on the plate to add some texture/color. I usually do rosemary or thyme.

Other Tablescape Styling Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to mix silver AND gold 
  • Play with vintage and new
  • It doesn’t have to be matchy-matchy
  • Tapered candles are moody and fun
  • Multiple vases with different heights add dimension
  • Forage! Some of my favorite decorative accents are things I found on the street or on a hike. Get outside!

Dress

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season surrounded by people you love.

Stay safe and healthy!

Cheers,

Bronte

*Design and Styled by Bronte Athearn
** Photos by Veronica Crawford

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Jessvii
1 year ago

Looks great – very creative! If this table is set up in your bedroom, where are you sleeping?

Bronte
1 year ago
Reply to  Jessvii

I moved our bed over to our fireplace nook for the time being.

Hayley
1 year ago

My turkey tip is: forget cooking the whole bird and just do a turkey breast or 2 or 3. They’re normally 5-10lbs and it’s much easier to cook it evenly and not have it dry out than cooking a whole turkey. I started doing this about 7 years ago and it changed my thanksgiving prep (and everyone raves about how the turkey is so tender and most and tasty!).

Heather
1 year ago
Reply to  Hayley

I do this as well. So easy and always delicious!

Kj
1 year ago
Reply to  Hayley

Order a smoked turkey from Greenberg. It is the best tasting turkey and comes already cooked. http://www.gobblegobble.com

1 year ago

Haha–yep, weeks to plan the decor, a couple of days (maybe) for the menu! I’m a tactile person, so am *loving* all of the the textures, starting with your plaster table. The tarnished brass and skinny candlesticks are now on my wishlist <3!

Cris S.
1 year ago

Does Screw Gun mean drill? Or it that something else?
My turkey tip is to give it two extra days to defrost in the fridge. Mine is always still frozen Thanksgiving morning if I follow the directions on the packaging. One year I decided to spatchcock the turkey, thinking it would cook faster. I had forgotten how much extra space a turkey laid flat would be and could barely fit it in our smaller than standard size oven and had to use a low sheet pan instead of roasting pan. So I wrapped the lower rack in foil to prevent the turkey juices from spilling over onto the bottom of the oven, which then prevented the heat from the low heating element from circulating so it still took forever for the damn thing to cook. I don’t know. Maybe the best tip is to put someone else in charge of cooking the turkey. OR, buy one of those stand alone roasting pans – my mother-in-law used to use those and it frees the oven up to bake a lot of other stuff instead of just the turkey. https://www.amazon.com/Oster-CKSTRS23-SB-Roaster-22-Qt-Stainless/dp/B00CQLJESK

DeniseGK
1 year ago
Reply to  Cris S.

There is such a thing as a “screw gun”: https://toolpowers.com/what-is-a-screw-gun/. But if someone already has a drill, they could use that just as well. Since she said she’s not much of a DIYer, I would guess that she didn’t already have many tools and did go out and buy something – she would definitely remember what it was called.

Sunny
1 year ago
Reply to  Cris S.

I have used a stand alone roaster for my turkey for the past 4 years. Because of the lid, it self bastes with the condensation from the roaster. Also know the turkey will cook much faster in the roaster so look online for roasting times not oven times. Cheers!

Elaine
1 year ago
Reply to  Cris S.

A screw gun is like a nail gun, but for screws, where the screws are belt-fed into the gun.

Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Cris S.

You can get an attachmrnt “bit” for a drill called a DRIVER. Insteadof drilling holes, it drives screws in, or out.

Susan
1 year ago

How do you clean a plaster table?

Bronte
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan

I just use a normal cleaning spray and paper towels or cloth. If you put sealer over the plaster it’s much easier to clean.

Kate
1 year ago

Apologies in advance, this is not about this post! I live in LA and would love to get the email for Mark, the amazing wallpaper installer Caitlin used. Tried to comment on her original post but I think commenting is disabled now. Thank you!

Diana
1 year ago

This is gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing. I love the candles and how they bring light and sparkle to the table.
–Turkey: if you want a whole bird, and you want to cook it, my best tip is to cook it 2-3 days ahead of time, carve it the way you want, and then refrigerate. Wrap the carved pieces in foil with a little broth and reheat in the oven on Thanksgiving day. It takes your stress-level down about 99% 🙂
–General tablescape question: how do you fit the food dishes onto the table when it’s so beautiful decorated? I love to see photos of these tables, but I don’t usually attempt them myself because I am completely a function over form person 🙂 If it doesn’t WORK I don’t want to do it. What do most people do? Do you serve the food buffet style in another place and you don’t actually put food dishes on the table? Would love to hear what others do!

Sona
1 year ago
Reply to  Diana

I do decorate my table in a fall theme and we always serve the food buffet style from the island in the kitchen. That way the table looks nice and the food doesn’t need to be passed down the table. I’ll put butter and salt and pepper on the table right before serving.

Bronte
1 year ago

Thank you all so much for the turkey tips!

Rinda Healey
1 year ago

Love the vibe–and those chairs!!! But I can’t help but notice that the chargers are hanging off of the (very cute and creative) table. It must be intentional, since they all do. To me, that’s a “miss.” Perhaps building the table just a few inches wider would’ve been better.

Jennifer
1 year ago

Beautiful table setting! I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for the past few years and here is my advice:

1. Look up Alton Brown’s recipe. Follow it. Comes out perfect every time. Even my mom orders my turkey to her own.

2. Cook your turkey early. Maybe not 2-3 days like a prior commenter said, but at least a few hours. It’s good to let meat rest, and you can always reheat if needed.

Happy eating!

D tiz
1 year ago

2 by 4s running down the sides and ends below the top would have added stability and strength and given that chunky look concrete tables are know for. I’m curious what your plan for the table is afterward the holidays. Seems pricy for something that will go in the trash. (I’m super cheap and all about the side dishes for Thanksgiving though!)

Gwoman
1 year ago
Reply to  D tiz

I wondering that as well. For me, a folding table that can used when I need it and stored away when I don’t would work better. To each their own, I suppose. Also wondering about the rough edges of plaster…keep thinking it will catch and snag sweaters. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Bronte
1 year ago
Reply to  D tiz

So true! I wanted to use 2 by 4s but they were more expensive and I couldn’t find ones that were long enough. That’s why I opted for these… though I do wish I would’ve just looked other places for 2 by 4’s (I do think it would have looked better) but I was on a time crunch. I didn’t want to rent or buy a folding table. I wanted to go outside the box and try something new!

1 year ago

The tablescape turned out beautifully! Love the mixture of colors and vintage finds. Any chance you can share the thrift store you found the glasses and napkins at? I’m always on the hunt for new spots!

Bronte
1 year ago
Reply to  Alyssa

Thank you! It’s a cute thrift store in Fullerton, CA called Zion Thrift Shop. They have great customer service and you can’t beat the prices!

Hanna
1 year ago

Where did you get the large paper lantern? Thanks!

Bronte
1 year ago
Reply to  Hanna

The paper lantern is from HAY

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