7 Pieces For A Non-Rustic Thanksgiving Table: Posh, Or Nosh?


Anyone else out there with a fangirl love for table settings? Oh the crystal, oh the gilt, oh the gleam.

While I appreciate rustic Thanksgiving tables – n a hello pretty picture kind of way – my heart belongs to fancy. Or, as the British say so endearingly, “Posh.” Perhaps I have a few allies here?

But posh is expensive! How annoying! Harrumph. So, here’s a graphic for those who would be Posh, but must at least Nosh. Yes, that’s a completely dopey alliteration, and now you know why I was not a marketing executive, but let’s forge ahead.

From plates to candelabra, the look for less.

Posh-Or-Nosh-

Details:

  1. Eat | Bernadaud “Etoiles” china via Bloomingdale‘s / 16-Piece “Bianca” Beaded-Edge Dinnerware from Neiman Marcus
  2. Cut | Reed & Barton Pointed Antique Sterling Silver 5 Piece Place Setting via Amazon /  Polka-dotted flatware from Anthropologie
  3. Cover | “Chateau Blanc” linen tablecloth from Schweitzer Linens / Embroidered organic cotton voile from Coyuchi
  4. Pour | “India” Gravy Boat from Wedgwood / Polished Aluminum Gravy Boat via Amazon
  5. Drink | “Lismore” Balloon Wine from Waterford / “Palace Trellis” glasses from Anthropologie
  6. Serve | “India Covered Vegetable Bowl from Wedgwood / Hammered Stainless Steel Oval Fruit Bowl, via Amazon
  7. Light | Pair of 1930s New York silver candelabra via 1stDibs (I swear I have an identical except-for-multiple-dents pair from my family) / Pair of crystal candlesticks with drops on sale at Macy’s

And finally, a few notes on methodology:

  • Posh derives character from a few fantastic big ticket items, keeping the rest simple but elegant. Nosh gets its glamor from multiple textures and refracted light.
  • Posh loves silver, antique especially. Nosh thinks a heckuva lot can be done with well-crafted stainless steel and aluminum. We might even refer to it as aluminium, ironically pretentious for Americans, and laugh.
  • Posh can be acquired all at once, at marriage for example, or over time, as the family tires of the goods or passes them on as inheritance. Nosh always takes a while. A new piece every year, maybe two, if the year-end bonus is big enough.
  • Posh goes for striking centerpieces, either in a single flower type – tulips are good – or from sheer High WASP eccentricity, via garden foraging. My mom the Smithie always insisted on cutting her own holly. Nosh looks for color and abundance, to highlight the white, the clear and the multi-faceted shine.

You will notice that even the Nosh table costs a fair amount of money, all told. To go lower, you have to get really creative. Picnics, outdoors in California, indoors on the floor of an apartment in Brooklyn, or a young couple’s first house outside of Allentown. Potlucks, where the mismatch of dishes matters not one whit. And kitsch, do not forget our friend kitsch – go to the dollar store and buy up every ugly turkey-covered paper good you can find. I’m sure there’s a turkey candle waiting for you somewhere.

Just be sure to recycle when you’re done. Happy almost Thanksgiving, Americans, with a big wave to the rest of the world as we indulge.

Editorial note: The inimitable @kidchamp corrects me, well, correctly. I meant rhyme, not alliteration. But I’m leaving my mistake for all to see, thence ensuring my future humility.

 

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25 Comments

  • 11/17/14
    7:32 am

    Reply

    Emmaleigh504 said...

    One summer my granny who had very simple, plain tastes made a comment about all my mom’s dishes, and did she really need more. That Thanksgiving my mom pulled out all the stops and didn’t use the same china or linen for any of the meals she served my granny, from a plain oatmeal breakfast, to fancy Thanksgiving dinner. Granny commented all the beautiful tables my mom set, and never said anything about too much china again. A beautiful table makes everyone happy.

    11/19/14
    11:04 am
    Lisa said...

    @Emmaleigh504, Go Mom:).

  • 11/17/14
    9:10 am

    Reply

    Bungalow Hostess said...

    As always a very “entertaining” post!
    Love the high and low of posh n nosh….

    11/19/14
    11:04 am
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, ;)

  • 11/17/14
    9:18 am

    Reply

    flwjane said...

    I will not be cooking but your suggestions almost make me wish I was…almost.

    I should sent this post to my host’s attention.

    Wait, that might be construed as a wee bit rude.

    o J

    11/19/14
    11:05 am
    Lisa said...

    @flwjane, All your friends seem like such amazing hosts – I imagine they could teach me a thing or two.

  • 11/17/14
    10:53 am

    Reply

    kathy said...

    I love fancy table settings, and use a mixture of my grandmother’s wedding china, and mine. I actually have been thinking that I should use my good china, crystal and silver more often, why save it just for holidays?

    11/19/14
    11:07 am
    Lisa said...

    @kathy, I use my good silver every day because it’s all I’ve got! The china has a gold rim, so no dishwasher, so thank you Crate and Barrel for inexpensive white dishes.

  • 11/17/14
    11:09 am

    Reply

    Susan said...

    Very entertaining post Lisa! This year, we will be going for posh as we will be at home in Dallas for Christmas. While several years of Thanksgiving at our farm was romantic and worthy as a pretty picture, it was backbreaking work for me. I am taking advantage of the local gourmet grocery this year and ordering the turkey (already roasted) as well as a number of side dishes (still baking bread myself and making my signature dish which is cornbread dressing). We will be using crystal, silver (some of it antique) and wedding china (unless I decide to use my Mottahedeh Blue Canton which is lovely AND can be put in the dishwasher.)

    At the farm, I use Buffalo China and stainless, plain wine glasses, etc.

    11/19/14
    11:14 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan, Thank goodness for dishwashers, and a year when you take the simple way. We’ve gone out to dinner for a couple of Thanksgivings when it was all just too much.

  • 11/17/14
    11:30 am

    Reply

    Jane said...

    I’m with you in that I love the posh and enjoy setting the table with all my best china, crystal and sterling (some antiques in those cases where I am lucky enough to have inherited from my mother-in-law). It makes everyone feel special to be worthy of the extra effort. My mother used to comment about “all the fuss” when she felt her mismatched china was fine, but recently I noticed that her favorite photo (because she keeps that photo up all year) from the annual calendar we make for her is the one of Thanksgiving and our posh table setting! Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the time with your family!

    11/19/14
    11:14 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, That is a very sweet story.

  • 11/17/14
    1:45 pm

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    I love posh and a pretty table setting. Unfortunately some of my family views this propensity with alarm and dismay. To each his own. At my house the table sparkles.

    11/17/14
    1:59 pm
    Philippa said...

    @Mardel, Here, too!

    11/19/14
    11:14 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mardel, Sparkles forever and ever and ever.

  • 11/17/14
    2:17 pm

    Reply

    Marie said...

    I immediately recognized my favorite china pattern, India! I’ve been in love with it for years. I don’t have it. I use Wedgwood Nantucket Basket for every day, and I have 6 place settings of a now discontinued pattern that I bought in London in the early 70’s. We also have my husband’s grandmother’s china, which mixes well with mine.

    I was also given a beautiful linen teblecloth from Schweitzer Linens.

    11/19/14
    11:49 am
    Lisa said...

    @Marie, I love mixed and matched. Nice work, whoever gave you the tablecloth!

  • 11/17/14
    4:33 pm

    Reply

    Duchesse said...

    Just lovely!

    If a woman does not want matchy, there are astonishing finds in charity shops-apparently many people don’t want to polish silver any more. We cut our own holly and boughs, and chopped down the tree.

    11/21/14
    10:09 am
    Lisa said...

    @Duchesse, I’ve never looked in thrift shops for silver – I assume they keep it under glass?

  • 11/17/14
    7:34 pm

    Reply

    Sydney Shop Girl said...

    We don’t observe Thanksgiving here but I am enjoying sharing in it through your post, Lisa.

    I can’t decide. I love both the posh and the nosh takes on the Thanksgiving table.

    SSG xxx

    11/21/14
    10:11 am
    Lisa said...

    @Sydney Shop Girl, Thanksgiving is a great holiday – I am trying to imagine what Australia’s equivalent might be…

  • 11/18/14
    4:59 am

    Reply

    Laura Lewis said...

    Really fun post. The pieces you show are gorgeous. Personally, I go for posh. It’s the way I grew up, and the way I do it now. The first time (and only time) we went to my mother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving, she used paper plates, cups, etc. I was shocked. Honestly. I had never seen anyone use paper tableware on Thanksgiving or Christmas (a summer Sunday, yes, but that’s all) And I told my husband that that would be the last time we went to her house for a holiday. (Don’t worry-I was polite and gracious. I don’t think she ever knew how I felt). Now I have so many inherited dishes, crystal, and silverware, I can enjoy the history of each piece as well as the beauty. I like to use the “good stuff” even when we have hot dogs! Thank you for writing this post.

    11/18/14
    3:22 pm
    Hmmm said...

    @Laura Lewis,

    Wow.

    11/21/14
    10:11 am
    Lisa said...

    @Laura Lewis, You’re welcome!

  • 11/18/14
    5:34 am

    Reply

    Candace said...

    Wonderful photo examples of the contrasting posh and nosh. For a special occasion, I love posh. My dream posh dinner would be the magnificent elegance of the Christmas Dinner in Downton Abbey, gloved servants and all!

    11/19/14
    2:11 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Candace, I confess, I’d love that. As long as the cast around the table didn’t change.

  • 11/18/14
    5:59 am

    Reply

    Jane said...

    @Marie, I noticed the India china pattern, too! It was the one used for afternoon tea at the Boston Ritz Carlton when the Ritz Carlton still existed and there was a beautiful room dedicated to serving afternoon tea. It was the gold standard for me, complete with your own tea butler! Every time I see India china, I am reminded of afternoon tea at the Ritz. Sigh.

    11/19/14
    2:12 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, I am so happy to know that!

  • 11/18/14
    9:38 am

    Reply

    Marsha Calhoun said...

    Enjoyed this – especially when I recognized the silver that I helped my mother choose maybe 45 years ago, which she saved for special occasions and I now use every day. I love the feel of real silver, but as to the old belief that you don’t have to polish it if you use it every day – not true, sadly. My own holiday table is a mix of real china (all inherited), mostly real silver with some plate, simple cheap wineglasses, and whatever else is needed to accommodate the food – somehow it always looks fine and festive, imho at least.

    11/19/14
    2:12 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Marsha Calhoun, I bet it looks wonderful. My mom has the Tiffany’s version of this silverware, called “Fanieul.”

  • 11/18/14
    11:17 am

    Reply

    déjà pseu said...

    We were fortunate to inherit family silver flatware from both sides of grandparents (his and mine) and as they are vastly different styles (Art Deco vs. Ornate), I enjoy alternating place settings between the two. Love the Anthropologie stemware! I need to replace table linens this year, will check out your suggestions.

    11/19/14
    2:18 pm
    Lisa said...

    @déjà pseu, I like that image of the alternating cutlery.

  • 11/18/14
    12:18 pm

    Reply

    coulda shoulda woulda said...

    i have to be honest and say i love tableware from anywhere and even in ikea i stop at that section and have a blast looking at it. but i love how Americans set the table for thanksgiving as opposed to xmas. they dont take tablescapes that seriously here and is relatively simple compared to across the pond.

    11/19/14
    2:19 pm
    Lisa said...

    @coulda shoulda woulda, Oh yeah, it is kind of funny how our founding holiday is all about eating and the table:).

  • 11/18/14
    2:43 pm

    Reply

    Marie said...

    Jane, I hadn’t known that the Ritz used that pattern! I was once there for afternoon tea. When my (step)daughter had her first period, I took her there as a celebration. It’s a lovely memory. Wish I still lived in Boston.

    11/19/14
    3:48 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Marie, That conjunction of puberty and the Ritz is one for the ages!

  • 11/18/14
    7:45 pm

    Reply

    SewingLibrarian said...

    I love table settings! Years ago, when department stores had china departments, my mother and I always visited them to look at the tablescapes. Marshall Field’s always had lovely examples. My silver is mostly inherited or “vintage”, but my china and crystal are relatively new. And I have a boatload of linens, my maternal ancestors having been prolific with needles.

    11/19/14
    3:48 pm
    Lisa said...

    @SewingLibrarian, “Prolific with needles.” Wonderful.

  • 11/18/14
    7:53 pm

    Reply

    Susan B said...

    Pointed Antique! That was my mother’s silver, which disappeared when the Beltway Silver Gang swept through her neighborhood. She later acquired a vintage set in Jensen’s Acorn pattern, which I inherited, but it never had the same elegant delicacy.

    All my nice things are packed away pending renovation, and in truth I rarely set a fancy table, but I look forward to doing so when it’s logistically possible.

    11/19/14
    11:32 am
    Jane said...

    @Susan B,
    Pointed Antique was my mother-in-law’s pattern and as she didn’t have any other silverware, she used it everyday. My husband recalls that when he and his sister wanted to go outside and make mud pies, she sent them out with her sterling silver spoons! Her mother-in-law who had gifted her the silver was appalled. I always thought it was hilarious!

    11/19/14
    3:59 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Susan B, The Beltway Gang? I’ll have to look that up!

  • 11/19/14
    6:32 am

    Reply

    Northmoon said...

    A posh table feels very nostalgic to me now. My mother moved to a retirement residence last summer so the white china, silver flatwear, crystal candelabra and linen table cloths are gone. My brother and his wife weren’t interested and I don’t have space.

    Whether posh or nosh, enjoy your Thanksgiving feast, the extra special table setting and most of all the family and friends you share it with!

    11/19/14
    4:00 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Northmoon, Ah, I hope your mom is happy in her new place. And that you enjoy your Thanksgiving as well. Thank you.

  • 11/19/14
    10:48 am

    Reply

    Linda Pakravan said...

    We’re definitely some of each, pnosh.

    I do love the curlicue handle of the nosh gravy boat. I have the same sterling candlesticks! They come in very handy during power outages. My daughter is asserting her maturity (?) by disliking all my old stuff, especially the crystal and silver.

    Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

    11/19/14
    4:15 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Linda Pakravan, Pnosh! Ha! Us too. Don’t have any fancy wine glasses, but sure would like some:).

  • 11/19/14
    11:29 am

    Reply

    TB said...

    I love both the Posh and Nosh! I was not fortunate enough to acquire through gifting all the accoutrements of Posh nor am I wealthy enough to buy my own but I do appreciate that special elegance. Unfortunately not everyone does. A dear friend is doing up the Posh for Christmas but already there is discord from her husband’s family who think she is being stuffy and pretentious. I told her she has the right to entertain and enjoy her things and if anyone doesn’t appreciate it that is her/his problem. Part of the joy of entertaining is the decorating.

    11/19/14
    4:17 pm
    Lisa said...

    @TB, Around our linen and silver we laugh, we curse, we watch television, sometimes we cry, we say thank you. A fancy table doesn’t have to been snobby/stuffy behavior for heaven’s sake!

  • 11/19/14
    1:00 pm

    Reply

    Eleanorjane said...

    I’m Posh all the way, me! I love old china, crystal, silver but I’ve never spent much money on it. As these things have fallen out of favour with most people, you can pick up lots of lovely things from charity shops for a bargain.

    I’ve also inherited various bits and bobs, some more useful than others. I don’t think I’ll ever use the tiny coffee cups as I like *lots* of coffee, not just a shot of espresso.

    11/19/14
    4:18 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Eleanorjane, Oh I agree about the coffee cups. I drink my tea about of 20 oz behemoths when I can find them:).

  • 11/20/14
    6:09 am

    Reply

    Ellen said...

    It was, perhaps, coincidence that there was a link to the “Wasp Christmas Tree” just below this post. Definitely in the nosh category, I love a table set with an assortment of not only my only family things (which don’t all match) as well as those of my guests who have contributed food to the table.

    11/20/14
    5:29 pm
    Ellen said...

    @Ellen,
    Note: meant to say “old family things”, not” only”. Sometimes my computer does not agree with my intended statement…or makes me want to look like an illiterate fool!

  • 11/24/14
    12:17 pm

    Reply

    naomi said...

    I’m sure you know one of my favorite acronyms is POSH for the desired method of travel–Port Outbound, Starward Home. Only equalled by the nickname “Old Filth”, for Failed in London, Try Hong Kong”

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