After a full-time career in retail product development, forecasting and branding, Carla shifted her focus and began to share her expertise with the non-profit sector. When COVID slowed the pace of life down, she launched an interiors business and is currently helping families in the PNW reimagine their living spaces.
Carla focuses on the Anchor website and the Anchor at Home broadcast while continuing to explore ways to expand The Anchor’s reach across the country, bringing its unique format and message of hope and encouragement to more women nationwide. Carla lives in Issaquah, Washington and is married to Brad, mother to Jake and Andrew, and new grandmother to Nolan.
BUILDING A THANKSGIVING TABLESCAPE
Growing up, my family celebrated Thanksgiving in a very special, yet less traditional way than many of my friends did. We packed up our green wood-paneled station wagon and headed for Yosemite, California to join other families from our local YMCA for a long weekend of hiking, snowman-building (when we were lucky enough to have snow) and fireside chats that included skits and song. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve these trips to this beautiful and unique place.
Adventuring in Yosemite for Thanksgiving
From the time I was two years old until high school, we stayed in what was affectionately termed a WOB (cabin without bath). This meant that my sweet mother had to traipse through the snow in the middle of the night with whichever young child had not emptied his or her bladder well before bedtime! Since money was tight, we ate almost every meal out of our sturdy Coleman cooler and Thanksgiving dinner was whatever Mom cooked up in the crock pot (often chili).
I remember our first traditional Thanksgiving dinner was my freshman year of college when we opted out of the Yosemite trip, and I came home to a table set with all the expected Thanksgiving delicacies: turkey, cranberry sauce (shaped just like the can it came out of!), mashed potatoes and stuffing.
Post college, I participated in what is now commonly known as “Friendsgiving” as my parents had moved away. Whoever amongst my friends was not traveling home to family came to my apartment and we threw together a meal and made our own special memories. Once I was married with children and had extended family, Thanksgiving become a much more traditional ritual.
One of my favorite things to do as I anticipate celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family is to decorate my holiday table.
I am known among my friends for my elaborate and themed table décor. I once had a friend going through a terrarium phase and I scoured thrift stores for two months seeking out small, lidded glass dishes so that every seat had its own terrarium in front of the dinner plate! Another special dinner involved all things green, including sparkling Leprechaun ornaments at every place setting to celebrate a dear friend who was born and raised in Ireland. Christmas dinners provide equally creative opportunities… one of my favorite past settings involved a one-hundred-year-old wood and metal sled that I used as the centerpiece for a woodland-themed table.
This year, due to the continued travel and other COVID limitations, we will have a family-only table this year. We will miss dear friends with whom we regularly celebrate Thanksgiving, but despite that loss, I still plan on crafting a beautiful and inviting table. I asked a friend to tape me creating my table setting this year so that you can all follow along. I hope you are inspired to make your own table décor memorable for whoever comes to celebrate family, friends and the season with you! –Carla
Follow along with Carla in this video and read her tips and tricks below!
Building a Thanksgiving Tablescape
Start with a table runner. This can be fabric, felt or even kraft paper (fun if you have kids)!
Place larger items first, so that you can space everything appropriately. Then layer in the medium-sized items, then fill in with tealights, acorns, and smaller items. Don’t worry about crowding this setting….after all, Thanksgiving is about celebrating abundance. I use glass shelving to create a riser to give my display some height. You can buy similar shelves in varying widths and lengths at IKEA. I place empty votive holders upside down as the shelf support.
Put a placecard and a napkin (paper or fabric) at each seat as the finishing touch. Don’t have place card holders? Pinecones, rocks or just a piece of cardstock folded in half, work nicely. I like writing my guests names or inspiration words on votive holders as well for a personal touch. If you used kraft paper as your table runner, just write the guests’ names on the paper in front of the plates. If you have young children, make place card-making their special project and a way for them to contribute to your beautiful table!
Lastly, find a way to incorporate a “grateful for…” card or jar to your Thanksgiving décor. Slips of paper in front of a glass or ceramic bowl will do the job. Or have each guest use the backside of their placecard to write something they are thankful for this year. As seen in the video, I am using a small wooden tree and paper leaves this year (a gift from a dear friend). Be inspired and be thankful.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.