(WTNH) -- If you like to think outside the box and you're looking for creative tabletop ideas for the holidays, Mar Jennings says you might want to peruse your local grocery store aisles.
As a lifestyle expert and designer I always find myself thinking outside the box and looking for inspiration and unexpected resources everywhere I go. This year-with a big focus on creativity and one stop shopping-I challenged myself not only to purchase everything I need for a festive lunch and dinner, but to create a tablescape that also infuses the many resources of my local Stop & Shop grocery store. This shopping trip would be like no other as I explored the aisles with a new found mission: What can I do with that on my table? The cohesive creative design will surprise you. The result: a "crafty" table that doesn't look juvenile.
Here is my grocery list and creative ideas by department:
- Mason Jars- The half-pint size serves as the perfect vessel for tea lights.
- Candles- Fabulous dripless candles are a staple and are perfect for many projects.
- Hallmark wrapping paper rolls- A wrapping paper made from good paper stock serves up great style as a runner; or if you wish, you can double it and use it as a tablecloth-either way, disposable. Use pinking scissors to cut roll to fit for a professional look. Have a table cloth you love to use? Cut the paper into placemats; simply trace any mat you have, cut, and go.
- Lindt Lindor chocolate truffles- This is not the dessert course! I scatter these individually wrapped chocolates around my centerpiece. They are so pretty, reflect the candlelight and can of course be nibbled on before dessert arrives.
HEALTH & BEAUTY:
- Epsom Salt- Perfect for creating a snowy effect on your table. Use as a base in a clear glass jar or snifter and nestle tea lights or candles into it.
- Granny Smith apples- Cut off top 1/3 to create a flat surface, then use an ice cream scoop to remove the remaining core. The apple has now become a small vase for a festive flower arrangement. Use a rubber band to secure the bouquet stems together. Make multiple arrangements, enough for each guest to take home.
- Pears- Used as-is, they are a perfect fall décor detail that's also edible later.
- Dumpling Squash- Another wonderful item to use as-is which ties in the scheme of the season.
- Large Artichokes- Candlestick holders. Yes that's right! Cut off across where the stem joins the flower to make a flat base. On opposite end, drill hole big enough for your candle to fit snugly. Don't want to drill? If candle is a traditional taper, insert a paring knife into flower and twist. sMARt Tip: Do ahead of time and keep fresh in fridge; use more than once by refrigerating between uses, too.
- Bag of Walnuts- Another staple item that can easily be incorporated into a wonderful table or buffet design. Can be used as-is scattered on table. Can also be used to create napkin rings by drilling small holes to run wire through. sMARt Tip: Drill side-to-side, avoiding the nut's natural seams.
- A package of autumn leaves- When Mother Nature does not offer you a selection, your local Stop & Shop does. Nothing represents autumn more than powerful colors and textures of Mother Earth. By laying across and intertwining the leaves into your center focal point not only will you build some height and interest but you're pulling the colors of the season right to your table.
- Flowers- Today's Stop & Shop offers huge flower departments that are filled with many readymade arrangements. The designers that build these offer an easy alterative to those expensive flower shops. Their cut flower selection is also great; they are a weekly purchase in my home for this very reason. Plants and holiday bulbs are also available for longer lasting décor options.
- Cinnamon Scented Pinecones- A creative place card holder alternative. If you try to slip a place card between the ridges the car will look rippled and uneven. Instead, use a small hand saw to create a straight space. Place the cone on its side and saw the length of it-go about ½ inch in. Insert a hand written place card into the slice.
One stop shopping has never been so much fun. This season, wander your grocery store with an open mind, allowing the unexpected to speak to you. You'll be surprised just how resourceful you can be with your table top.