I posted Turkey Day tips here a few weeks ago and gave a glimpse into the direction I was going with decorating for our first time hosting Thanksgiving (and for 40+ guests to boot!).
I normally wouldn’t share after a holiday because you would all forget about any helpful tips by next year.
Looks like a grande ole’ time, huh?
Come now. Come along on this fun journey of mine to see if you want to learn from me, laugh at me, laugh with me, smack me, feel sorry for me (unlikely) or even take away a few helpful tips.
I spent weeks scouring the clearance bins as well as my own stash to put together the tablescapes I’d envisioned. Not too over the top, but awesome enough to let our family know that they are special to us and certainly worth the extra time and effort we put into this “event.”
We purchased a giant 10 x 30 tent to accommodate all of the extra tables and seating required (we live in Florida and the sun is brutal). We purchased these awesome outdoor lights (they were on sale last month), recommended by Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick, so that our guests could actually see their food once the sun went down.
This was our backyard on the Eve of Doom. I was so excited as I envisioned this scene with the addition of tables, chairs and decor! And the many kin chatting and dining under the ambiant lighting…
And then it had to go and get all sorts of unexpected windy a few hours before showtime sending me into cardiac arrest.
We were done with everything except the turkey and heating up appetizers. Got up early, set everything out … and that is code for busted our a$$es in case you’ve never hosted such a large gathering. There is only so much you can do in advance when you are a wee bit crazy like us and want everything decorated and perfect…inside and outside. Masochists, I tell ya.
So here’s the skinny: Tent was set up the day before. Secured like an SOB. Tables were set the morning of. Wind blew. I heard a scream (that would be from my husband). I ran outside to watch that little shit (the tent, not my husband) fly up in the air, over our fence, into our neighbor’s roof, bounce down, get impaled by the corner of said roof and slide down into the yard.
As we watched the Jolly Roger set sail, we were speechless. I remained speechless which was the first clue to my husband that everyone should take cover indefinitely.
Once I quickly accepted the horrid fact that there was no logical way to rewind time and negotiate with the wind gods, I accepted the fact, RELUCTANTLY, that we’d just wasted all that money on a tent. And people were going to sweat.
And OMG. The lights!!!!! The whole bloody set had to be busted. I was stoked. Because I LOVE watching money fly away. Love it.
Yet upon inspection, those little suckers defeated the odds and survived!!! We lost a single bulb from attempting to move the mangled mess. Okay, baby steps towards things to be thankful for…
I posted the mangled photo above on Facebook because, let’s face it, Facebook rants have become my free therapy. And this particular post may have been the first time I publicly, in writing, let an F-bomb fly. Sooo not fancy pants. My step-dad flew back over to our house to salvage what he could. He managed to disassemble the entire thing (broken, twisted and all) and MacGyver’ed the frame right back up (sans ripped tent due to intensifying winds). He’s a rock star. (If you’re wondering why we put the ugly frame back up, it’s because we still had to hang the lights so people could see!)
Enough of my whining and babbling. Here are the photos I wish to share with you. Some good. Some bad. Some ugly. My goal is to show you how things don’t always work out as planned. Shocker. And to show you how “perfection” is often edited and should NEVER be your main goal nor the teeniest reason for self-doubt. $hit happens. Life happens. And yes, I can be cranky over said $hit, AND still be grateful for the simple ability to be in a position for $hit TO happen. End non-fancy, profanity-laden rant.
This is essentially what people saw as soon as they entered our backyard.
And this is closer to what they SHOULD have seen…
I’ve got mad photoshop skills, yo.
Here’s a different angle…
No clue why I’m not a professional graphic artist…
I’ll skip the narration for a wee bit as you scroll through strategically shot photos to highlight my decorating efforts (these tablescapes were all tweaked last minute to accommodate the undying wind…tweaked with joy #majorsarcasm)…
These are the night shots that are gonna prove how determined I can be to get what I want (decent photos for a blog post). Crazy and unsuccessful are a more accurate description here but hopefully you can envision how awesome it SHOULD have looked…*disclaimer: I have no clue how to photograph night scenes.
Now, these are from the inside of our kitchen/dining room and are a little less wind effected. 😉
My first attempt at chalkboard “art”. Further proof that I have pie in the sky visions with the patience of a toddler. 5 attempts and I was done. Crooked, uneven letters, bad art and all. Good enough for me! I also have the handwriting of a toddler which makes such tasks a little bit difficult…
One of my favorite fall memories this year…making this with my 3-year old…
Sadly, I don’t get to do as many fun crafts with my 11-year old anymore but she was thrilled that I framed her school artwork for the fall holidays.
I knew better than to even attempt a pretty food table. We have an eat-in kitchen but the two spaces are deceivingly full of unfunctional space.
And 40 people, ya’ll. 40.
We were trying to figure out how to double stack dishes up in here.
Our amazing niece hooked us up with chafing dishes from her restaurant contacts and her equally amazing husband took charge to tetris those badboys to fit and get everyone’s dishes into one of them so that we could be crazy in other areas of the house. They truly were sanity savers.
Sadly, this was not nearly all of the food we had. There were two other tables of appetizers, some hot dishes were still kitchen side and the salad and cranberries were on the island. Who’s fat?
But since I couldn’t even fathom a pretty food table, I fancied up our plates and plasticware with ones that mimicked real stuff. And I was rather happy to finally use the cornucopias that my mom gave me years ago to stash the utensils! Smart, right? And they were stuck on a stool next to the table because, well…see food pic above…
I made this cute little kids table a functional one. Stuff to color and assorted busy keepers…easily tossed into the basket when it was time to eat.
My adult family sat here. No joke. Grandma was nearby and didn’t want to move, so they all cloistered themselves to be near her…at the kids table. How can you argue with that?!?!
I also borrowed this tree from my way more insane party obsessed friend to do a thankful tree. I used my Cricut to cut leaves and supplied Sharpies in metallic colors. My mom gets props for shoving them under everyone’s noses to be sure the idea came to fruition. Thanks, Mom!
These are two of my most favorite shots. So deceivingly gorgeous!
I should also add this…if you think I’m too fancy for you, know this…I put this in our guest bathroom and thought it was hysterical. My 11-year old agreed. 🙂 I like to keep it real.
Overall, we put a lot of effort into making it a beautiful and memorable joint family Thanksgiving Day celebration. We definitely didn’t get the ultimate look we were going for, which made it that much more exhausting but would do it all over again for our family.
We had a wonderful time and I’d like to think everyone else did, too. We ate way too much awesome food! I attempted to drink away my flying tent sorrows, but couldn’t even do that right. I poured approximately 30 apple cider sangrias for myself and lost all of them before or after the first sip. A sad state of affairs, no doubt.
A perfect Thanksgiving was not meant to be…or was it? 😉
And in case you missed the message…
I hope your Thanksgiving celebrations were filled with as much love and excitement as ours, with or without drama! And I’d love to hear any funny Turkey Day debacles you’ve had!
There should be “love” or at least “like” buttons for emails like this. It looks lovely, Kara, You should think about using the frame just for lights again sometime.
Haha! The mere sight of that frame makes me want to suck my thumb in a corner.
That about sums it up. I was truly amazed at your ability to keep it together throughout the fiasco. It was a thanksgiving to remember, that’s for sure!
Couldn’t have pulled it off without your help!
I am so proud of you for taking what could have been a complete catastrophe and staying sane enough to turn it around into what looks to have been a beautiful and wonderful night with family and friends. You’re amazing. Best part of the whole thing … the trap-a-crap! Seriously where did you get that shit (pun intended)?
Thanks, Rebecca! One of my friends shared it with a group of us as an inside joke but insisted it worked. Avery and I happened upon it in Ace Hardware. Most of the bottles are pretty and discreet. But as soon as I saw the camo Trap-a-Crap one, I plunked down the money for it. It still makes me giggle. And since I knew most people would just spray it POST potty break, I decided to make it even more laughable by adding in the classy, framed instructions.
Kara.. What a great post in your blog. As the wind was howling at our house on turkey day, I expressed thanks that we were dining inside and only had 14 people at our table. Loved your table décor and attention to detail. Also your resiliency in not letting the loss of your tent ruin your amazing celebration. Well done!! We have 3 tent frames sans canopy. Perhaps in a future post you can address what to do when your canopy breaks, tears and all the remains in the metal frame! Thankful to have known you since your wee a wee one sitting at the Childrens Table! Best, Vicki
Thanks, Vicki! And not a bad idea to come up with a new crazy project to utilize all that metal!
Where was your magic wand?
Perhaps that’ll be the next DIY post. 😉