With the holidays approaching I thought I’d share a favorite idea for decorating a dinner table for a large family gathering. About ten years ago when my husband and I were planning the rehearsal dinner before our very small wedding, we wanted our guests to get to know each other and for them to know how much we valued the history we had with them. So instead of beautifully scripted placecards to direct guests to their seats, we combed through our photo albums and shoeboxes of miscellaneous pictures and found old photos we had of each guest or the spouse of the guest. We printed them with their name on cardstock and used them as placecards. The effect was so charming that we saw the waiters and waitresses before the dinner carefully looking and each one and smiling.
The other wonderful effect was that it started conversations between people who didn’t know each other. “When was that taken?” “Oh, remember how beautiful their wedding was..” “Look how much hair I had then!” “Our family used to rent this old beach house…” Guests who had recently married into the family got to see childhood pictures of their spouses that they may not have seen before. Children got to see their parents when they were children. These simple placecards provided a much-needed opportunity to stop and remember our histories with one another.