Thanksgiving 2020, as seen by Standen New York. Photo: Courtesy of Standen New YorkThere are many things old that feel new again this year, but the holidays are not on that list. Rising COVID numbers mean that most Thanksgiving celebrations will be anything but traditional. But new circumstances can allow room for experimentation with recipes, say, or table settings.Enter Susan Standen, a West Village-based Brit and fashion designer who observed the current resale craze for clothing and set out to do something similar homewares, while simultaneously shedding the “grandma” tag often attached to these pieces, through her new venture, Standen New York.For this hostess with the mostess, having complete or matching sets isn’t as important and giving your decor a personal touch. Standen says she often starts out with an “old-fashioned” arrangement. It’s then that the edit—and the fun—starts. “I think a good way to do things is to have something about what you’re doing that’s very eclectic, [like having] a set of vintage napkins that are different than the tablecloth, but it’s important not to have everything eclectic, or it starts to look like a car crash.”To keep you moving safely in the fast lane, here are Standen’s tips for setting a 2020 Thanksgiving table and “creating an atmosphere that’s not too formal but that still feels celebratory and unforgettable.”The magic is in the details.Photo: Courtesy of Standen New YorkPhoto: Courtesy of Standen New York“Nothing wrong with a crisp white tablecloth, but if you really want to set the mood for a memorable meal, you can’t beat a vintage embroidered linen set in a beautiful color. I’ve been saving these vintage Italian linens for Thanksgiving because the warm wheat tone reminds me of the harvest. If I’m using an embroidered cloth like this one, I’ll pair it with simple white Staffordshire plates.If you prefer more colorful plates, say transferware in a fabulous pattern, use a solid cloth instead to highlight them. I think everyone should have a collection of vintage linens to choose from. Don’t be afraid to use them. If they were that delicate, they wouldn’t have become vintage in the first place!”Transferware takes center stage on a plain tablecloth.Photo: Courtesy of Standen New York“I don’t like a tablescape that’s too matchy-matchy, so I layer in an eclectic array of elements: little opaline dishes for salt and pepper, some small leaf bowls (so cute and perfect for cranberry sauce etc.), vintage silverware, and my favorite, vintage tumbler glasses in rich colors. I collect tumblers from the Victorian era to the 1930s. The patterns and colors are stunning, they make a lovely accompaniment to your wine glasses, and they’re so versatile. You can even use them as bud vases for small sprays of flowers.”Pretty in pink.Photo: Courtesy of Standen New YorkA sheaf of wheat is a symbol of plenty.Photo: Courtesy of Standen New York“When it comes to table decor, there are a couple of traditional rules of thumb. For a ‘centerpiece’ approach, place a higher item in the middle of your table and surround it with smaller lower items, like the solar system. If you prefer a ‘line’ approach, draw an imaginary line down the center of your table and place everything with the line as your guide. I find this works well for bud vases and votives. Of course, it’s fun to break the rules and mix the two, depending on what your inspiration is.”A winter-themed table by Standen New York.Photo: Courtesy of Standen New York“It’s good to keep things low for an intimate at-home celebration. You want your guests to be able to see each other across the table! If you have a large arrangement you love, try placing it at the end of the table and add some smaller bud vases in between. That way you can have drama and intimacy.I try not to overthink the flowers, I like to be spontaneous and choose what’s in season at the local farmers market or shop. For Thanksgiving, I chose some wheat bundles from the Hudson Valley, then I made a bigger one myself (thanks YouTube). I finished them off with some undyed cotton ribbon.”“I’m very into colored glass candlesticks and making like a big candlescape [and] then mixing the the vintage glass with the candles. It just makes something really fabulous.” Photo: Courtesy of Standen New York
- The one essential at any meal, apart from good wine, is candlelight. I love to mix candlesticks, candelabras and votives together. The different heights and arrangements attract the eye and make your guests feel welcome and cozy. Lighting is everything!
“I’ll be giving thanks to all of the people that have gone out of their way, all of the doctors and nurses, all of the first responders,” says Susan Standen.Photo: Courtesy of Standen New York“Don’t forget to add a few unexpected touches to your table. For my harvest tablescape, I’ve used some wheat symbols, vintage glass acorns to celebrate the Fall equinox and, to thank Nature, and a beautiful kugel friendship ball to shine and bring joy in the candlelight.”Sweets for the sweet.Photo: Courtesy of Standen New York“One last tip: I like to set aside a cute dessert set.”Read More