Thanksgiving Place Cards

When I was a little girl, I so badly wanted to be involved in the Thanksgiving preparations, but could not be trusted with knives. So for the first few Thanksgivings I can remember, my official job title was “table decorator”, and boy did I take that job seriously.

I used to sketch out what the table would look like weeks before my mom would even begin planning the menu. As soon as Fall started, I began collecting colorful fallen leaves and storing them in a ziplock bag beneath my bed, so that I would be prepared when it came time to building my masterful centerpiece. I still remember the hand-traced turkeys with wonky, misspelled names that adorned the plates when I was first enlisted for the job, and the glitter mess that lasted for weeks when I thought sparkly pumpkins would be a good idea for a centerpiece.

While I’ve been old enough to help out in the kitchen for a long time, the table decorations have remained a personal tradition, and to me, are (almost) as important as the food. This year for Thanksgiving I am traveling to my mom’s house in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I am beyond excited for a week of much needed mom time (anyone else as excited for the Gilmore girls revival as we are?!). We will be cooking  the whole Thanksgiving dinner for our close friends and I, of course, will decorate. Here are three different place card ideas that I’ve come up with for the table this year; I will be using the gold leaves, a sophisticated decoration that isn’t too difficult so I can focus on what really matters… the food!


Until last week, I had never seen a persimmon before. A good friend handed me one that she got at the Hollywood Farmer’s market and I instantly thought of a pumpkin, a smooth and dainty little pumpkin. Festive and vibrant – a perfect addition to a thanksgiving table. To make this, I curled a piece of thin copper wire about 7 times using the tip of my scissors, then pulled it apart to make a coil. I then inserted the coil into the top of the persimmon. I curled another piece of wire two or three times, and left it curled so that it could hold the name tag, which was a small rectangular piece of card stock. I inserted the name tag, and that’s it!

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I recently bought a large pack of colorful paper and had fun layering the different colors to make these striped place cards. These are so easy, but I love the vibrant and funky edge they bring to the table. Simply layer the sheets of paper in the order you would like them (I  used six sheets); the stripes should look exactly how you want them to on the cards. Then glue the sheets of paper together and cut them into rectangles. Bend the rectangles in half, so that one side has the stripes on it. I used a thin black sharpie pen to write the names, careful to do so on a lighter color to create contrast.

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I found these pretty leaves at Michaels, but they could easily be done using real leaves if you happen to live somewhere that has seasons. For these place cards, I used gold acrylic paint to coat the leaves, then wrote the names in the center with a fine sharpie pen. I used the tip of my scissors to twist thin copper wire so that it would hold the leaf, and again at the bottom to create a spiral stand. While these are easy to make, they as also incredibly elegant and will surely impress your guests.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

-Kirby

Autumn Leaf Sugar Cookies

glu-logo-copyApparently we are 54 days into Fall, but here in L.A. it has been above 90 degrees for more days than we can count. Instead of cozy sweaters, knit hats, and hot lattes in hand, we’ve been trekking to class in shorts and t-shirts, wiping the sweat from our brows before downing iced drinks. While we try not to ever take the endless sunshine for granted, we do miss the seasonal changes that really help transition into the holiday spirit.

In an effort to fix this, we made these autumn leaf cookies for the apartment, a simple reminder that it is indeed Fall. They are a nice break from the meticulous detail that we tend to lean towards when decorating cookies.


Ingredients & Materials:

  • Sugar cookies (you can find our recipe here)
  • Royal icing (you can find our recipe here)
  • Food coloring of your choice (we used copper, red, orange, yellow, and green)
  • A cooling rack
  • Paper towels or newspaper (anything you don’t mind ruining with icing)
  • A spoon

_mg_6569Roll your sugar cookie dough 1/4 inch thick and use a maple leaf cookie cutter to cut your shapes. Bake them for 6-8 minutes at 400 ºF and then set aside to cool.

While the cookies bake, make your royal icing. Be sure to add a little bit of water. These cookies don’t have any detail in them and rely on the icing being able to run off the cookie. However, it should still be very thick and goopy. Divide the icing into as many colors as you want to use, and mix in the dye. Try to look at leaves for inspiration; you want the colors to be more natural looking and less neon, otherwise the cookies will look more like rainbows than leaves.

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Evenly distribute the cookies on a cooling rack with a thick layer of paper towels underneath. Using a spoon, pour the green icing over the cookies until they are covered.

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Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then pour the next shade (in this case a greenish yellow) over most of the cookie, leaving one end the initial green color.

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Again, allow them to sit for 10 minutes, then pour the next color (in this case golden yellow) over the cookies, leaving the previous colors still exposed on one side. Keep repeating this process until all of the colors have been laid down.

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The cookies should gradually transition from green to yellow to orange to red. Don’t worry if the icing looks messy and is mixing together. The imperfections are what give it the marbled ombre look. You also may need to clean up with edges with your fingers or a toothpick since the multiple layers of icing is so thick and slightly deforms the leaf shape. Allow to cool completely and enjoy, whether you are in warm weather or cold!

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Happy decorating!

Michelle & Kirby

Fall Leaf Gift Tags

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Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year. Kickstarting the holiday season with my birthday, followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve, I’m rarely seen without a beaming smile on my face. When I was younger, admittedly, one of my favorite parts about this season had to do with gifts. I can still remember the uncontained excitement having just opened my Barbie Dream House at my 6th birthday. And whenever my parents left me alone with the Christmas tree I’d sneakily shake my gifts hoping to discover their contents.

As I’ve grown older, gifts have remained a major highlight in my holiday celebrations, but I’ve become more interested in giving them than receiving them. The act of searching for the perfect gift that will make someone smile or laugh is so fulfilling and I honestly get more excited watching others open gifts than I do opening my own.

Personalized wrapping is the best way to elevate gifts, making them even more special. These leaf gift tags are the perfect addition to any fall gifts, whether it’s tied onto a Thanksgiving hostess gift or attached to an October/November birthday present. My sister, Nicole, recently moved to Oakland with her boyfriend and these leaf tags were a nice touch to the housewarming gift I sent.


Materials:

  • Paper (I used red and brown cardstock, and white and gold striped wrapping paper)
  • Scissors
  • Gold leaf pen  (I swear by this one here)
  • Pencil/pen for tracing
  • A leaf to trace (you can print a cutout if you don’t have one)
  • Hole punch
  • Twine
  • Wrapping paper

Trace the leaf onto each of your pieces of paper, then carefully cut them out. I used three but feel free to add or remove layers depending on what you like. Stack the leaves and punch a hole near the stem.

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Add the gold details to the leaf cutouts. On the red leaf I painted half of it solid gold. Be generous with layers to avoid streaks. For the brown leaf I did a simple gold outline, which gives plenty of room to write a note for Nicole. I left the gold and white paper alone since it already had plenty of gold sparkles.

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Wrap your gift and tie with twine. Then stack the leaves once again and loop the twine through the holes before you complete the knot. I love the simple, rustic look of plain white giftwrap and twine, but the subtle sparkle and color in the leaves gives it a warm holiday feel.

 

Happy gifting!

 

-Michelle