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Thanksgiving Decor: Modern. Warm. Traditional

This week, we caught up with our Event Designer, Michael Ross, in the Flower District to talk about Thanksgiving Decor. Michael has been a part of the Deborah Miller Catering & Event family for almost two years. First, he was a client. As a hands on parent he worked with our Event Specialists crafting menus for his daughter’s school functions and inevitably her Bat-Mitzvah.  Before fatherhood, Michael spent 18 years in the fashion world, honing his design sense. He even created an inaugural ball gown for then First Lady, Mrs. Barbara Bush.

RKM: Today, we are looking to you to create the right decor for either a corporate or private Thanksgiving. Let’s start at the beginning, how do you approach each event?

MR: For either private or corporate clients, I ask them a few questions. What their needs are? If they have any ideas? Is there something I need to keep in mind? After that, I survey the space. It used to be a given that offices would thrive on a large floral statement piece but not anymore. Not all our clients want that focal point; some want something smaller and more varied.  Once I have all the information, I start with the containers. There are so many options now, from color to shape, to price point, there is no reason you can’t find the perfect container for your event. 

RKM: Could you clarify what you mean by “container” and perhaps give me some examples of looks, price points and places to find these items?

MR:  By container I mean what used to always be a “vase”.  I say “container” because it’s not just a glass receptacle anymore. You can use crates, baskets, pots or even hollowed out squashes. Places like Jamali have some wonderful mercury glass containers in a variety of colors and sizes.  Vase Source has an incredible selection, specifically for ceramic containers that look glazed and handmade.  Depending on size these can range from $5 and up.

RKM: Is this an approach you’d take with both corporate and private Thanksgivings?

MR:  Yes. Knowing the goals of my client, seeing the space and what I have to work with visually, is a go-to stating point for planning either type of event.

RKM: How do you plan the look of the table?

MR: Every table is different, let me tell you about a private client’s Thanksgiving we’re doing. They’re hosting 14 people in their home. Because it’s a large number in a small space, I know the arrangements will need to be limited in size. The table cloth then becomes my guide. Here, I found a beautiful autumnal orange pattern with eggplant accents. The eggplant commits the look to working in jewel tones. Adding some texture I’m using gold lacquer chargers and flatware with wooden handles. The wood compliments my orange and purple jewel tones while allowing me to introduce a brighter gold for balance.  I finished the look with gold rimmed china, colored stemware and complimentary votives I carried the purple throughout with the napkin and seat cover. Its not typical Thanksgiving colors yet manages to feel very modern, warm and traditional. 

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RKM: Are there any themes you’re noticing?

MR: Yes, two themes that really work well together; groupings and mixing and matching. Together, you can play with size, shape, color of containers, votives, plants, flowers, etc. Things become a bit less uniform while still looking like they belong together. It’s a design philosophy that has been very popular with weddings as well. As an example, take a new spin on the classic berry. They are making so many colors now, that I would play with those new iterations.

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RKM: What colors are trending this Thanksgiving?

MR: Purples and greens with hints of yellow in florals. As we walked down this block we saw serval displays of various greens paired with purple plants or buds arranged near orange trees or even some pepper plants. I believe the color combination is coming from the rise in popularity of decorative cabbage. Since its color combination found in nature, its pairing feels quite natural. The addition of yellow, brings some brightness to the grouping.

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RKM: What would you say are any common mistakes?

MR: That’s a really good question. I don't think you can make any mistakes. I believe all natures colors go together and so, if what you’re doing reflects your taste, then you’ll be ok.

RKM: How do you incorporate your decor with your menu and vice versa?

MR: Your menu and your look come together in what pieces you choose to serve on. For the most part, Thanksgiving is a set menu. There is always some variation on how your dishes are prepared but you can plan on a large platter for the bird, bowls of some kind for the cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes. As we discussed we have set our decorations, our table, we have our menu so we’re really informed now. For the table I described to you earlier, I would use wooden bowls. I love driftwood as a platter but we don’t have many sides that allow for in this meal. For variation I would look for a cooper color bowl and maybe some jewel toned ceramic serving bowls as well.  If I was doing a more monochromatic or modern looking table, one that is more angular, I would look to silvers, black, grey, white painted glass. There are some all white ceramic pieces that would play really nicely as well. 

RKM: Thank  you for spending the day with us. Is there any parting words of advice you’d like to leave us with?

MR: Yes, have fun and don’t be afraid to try new things! When you go out of your comfort zone a bit you can find a something really exciting. Like hallowed out squashes and pumpkins as containers and even receptacles for dips and nuts.

Be sure to check in next week as we continue our Thanksgiving coverage with pie recipes and staff picks!

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