When Wendy Baker, who opened home goods boutique Provisions in Excelsior 36 years ago, thinks about Thanksgiving, she doesn’t think of party planning. Her family gathering is all about celebrating people she loves, sharing stories and eating together in a comfortable gathering. This doesn’t mean Baker doesn’t set a beautiful table and prepare a feast, though. On the contrary: She plans a tablescape to complement her relaxed get-together and keep the focus on relationships and conversation.
“I have really strong feelings that the most important part of Thanksgiving is seeing the faces of the people you love and being able to interact, so I don’t want tall candlesticks or hurricane [lamps], because they can block smaller people from seeing others,” Baker says. Instead, she places a whole row of low votive candles among a scattered assortment of pumpkins and gourds.
A local florist can be wonderful, Baker says, to create a flower arrangement inside a cut pumpkin and add whatever decoration you want to use—candles, vases and seasonal produce. One thing she’d never be without? Candles. “Oftentimes, people don’t light candles,” she says. “The flickering light they create is really warming.”
Baker loves Thanksgiving. “I’m a believer that we should start each day with a grateful heart,” she says. She is happy to carry pieces in her shop that help clients create just the right setting for the special day. It can be a bit of a challenge—in recent years, manufacturers have started skipping autumn- or Thanksgiving-themed merchandise, and focusing on Halloween and Christmas. But Baker rises to the challenge and seeks out beautiful items with an autumnal vibe.
For her own table, Baker leans toward simplicity and doesn’t plan to use place cards or napkin rings for this holiday. Provisions does carry some beautiful options for customers who are looking for a more formal decorating scheme, like brass leaf place cards, turkey-shaped and other paper place cards, leaf napkin rings and others with lacy latticework.
One of Baker’s favorite items? Placemats. She especially likes the twig placemats Provisions carries, which are a little oversized, so she alternates them with another style. Baker says a fun trend that’s gaining popularity here is mixing and matching dinnerware. “Maybe a grandparent had a setting that has only four remaining; mix those with ivory or wheat,” she suggests. “A table doesn’t have to match; some people do every place setting different.”
Her favorite dinnerware patterns for Thanksgiving are from Juliska, and two she loves together are Forest Walk and Pewter Stoneware. Forest Walk is off-white with a curvy twig border of leaves and berries. “It’s simple, yet really can look so much like fall, especially juxtaposed with beautiful Pewter Stoneware...I really think it speaks to the colder, cloudier fall weather.”