One of my favorite Thanksgiving dinners I’ve hosted in my home was for my sister and her fiancé. They were getting married the next day and the week had been crazy with preparations. Even though the day before the wedding was already pretty hectic, my husband and I wanted to find a way to officially welcome our new brother-in-law to our family.
While the house was far from party-ready and wedding preparations had rightfully stolen time away from holiday planning, we invited the two of them over at the last minute for a spontaneous Thanksgiving dinner. We ran to the only open grocery store for ingredients to prepare a simple meal. I lowered the dimmer switch on our chandelier and lit candles on the table (and conveniently the dimmed lights hid the mealtime mess around us, too). Our table was far from fancy, but I set out place cards and little vases with sprigs of boxwood in them to set a welcoming mood.
That evening the four of us gathered around what may have been the world’s smallest dining room table, all squeezed into a tiny dining room in our English cottage home. Everything about that evening was simple and spontaneous, but it was an evening we’ll never forget. It was 18 years ago now, but we still count it as one of our favorite Thanksgivings ever.
It really didn’t matter that our menu was simple or our dining table was teeny tiny. We remember that night because our table and time together created a sense of belonging. That little table provided a comfortable atmosphere for us to pour into the lives of others. Our table was an opportunity to gather for great conversation. That table was where good food was shared and best of all, it was where a lasting memory was made.
As you’re setting up your own holiday tables, consider ways your table can create a sense of belonging. One of the simplest ways to create a welcoming table is to set out place cards. It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting a feast for four or forty, place cards tell people that they belong and that they have a special place at your table.
You’ll find ideas for setting a welcoming table with place cards on The Inspired Room blog. But don’t overthink it, you can make adorable place cards with a piece of paper or a sticker paired with a bud vase, ornament, or a pinecone!
Are you hosting a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner this year?
Find more tips for inspiring connection in Melissa’s newly released book, Simple Gatherings!