Holiday Feasting Alfresco: Elegant Outdoor Thanksgiving Tables

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Many of us don’t live in a climate where November is time for “outdoor living” — but if you’re fortunate enough to be in a place where it is, consider this: holidays don’t have to mean stiff, formal meals indoors if you don’t want them to. You can set up a cozy table under a spreading oak, or a picnic bench amongst the autumn leaves, and enjoy the fresh air as much as you enjoy each other. Enjoy contemporary style? Take your orange-and-chrome chairs outside, set up a rectangular table with a dark wood “runner” at its center, and arrange pumpkins or small flowers down the middle. A long table with petrified-wood or lumber-look “plates” is both rustic and fun — or use green-trimmed china, a burlap runner, and tiny pumpkins for color.

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Striped tablecloths go great with plain chrome or aluminum, while light blue or white tablecloths “pop” next to bright orange kitchen chairs. You can even improvise seating: fabric-covered stools and a work table with an oversized tablecloth make a “dining room” out of any green area! Use a wonderful wrap-around porch as the site for a table with classic dishes — or casual stoneware. Chairs don’t have to match: use picnic benches, camp seating, even plump ottomans for the extra people. And if you’ve got a real mob coming, long banquet tables with crisp white cloths, set up on your own prairie, could be a party just waiting to happen. These tables, large and small, can give you inspiration; if Mother Nature cooperates, don’t hesitate to take the feast outdoors.

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