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If you’ve been following Compost and Cava for any amount of time, you know that I am all about some food. Like, never ever in my life have I “forgotten to eat lunch”… who are you people?
So naturally, it’s safe to assume I’m really into celebrating Thanksgiving and consider face-planting in leftovers a low-impact form of cardio.
My mother not only makes amazing food for Thanksgiving (and every meal) but she also sets one hell of a Thanksgiving table. And a beautiful tablescape can add so much to a meal, am I right? It can add that little extra festive touch or romantic vibe, so I decided to challenge myself for this year’s Thanksgiving post to make a tablescape that was both upcycled and upcyclable. I went with a loose coffee theme and here’s how it came out:
I scooped up two burlap coffee bags from a local coffee shop that does their own roasting several months ago and have been looking for an opportunity to use them in a craft. We frequently use the bags for litter pick ups with various Charleston non-profits, but they’re just so dang cool looking. I wanted to breathe new life into one and this Thanksgiving tablescape felt like the perfect opportunity. This was also an awesome opportunity to stretch the life of my Halloween pumpkins.
HERE’S THE THING ABOUT THIS TABLESCAPE: I’m not only going to walk you through how to set it up using eco-friendly materials, I’m going to show you how to further upcycle the components of the tablescape over the next couple weeks and break this down to be almost entirely zero waste. Hang with me on this one, y’all!
What You’ll Need For Your Upcycled Coffee Bag Tablescape:
1 burlap coffee bag from local coffee shop or coffee roaster or Etsy (possibly 2 if you have a longer table, they’ll usually be happy for you to take these off their hands)
tablecloth (mine came from the thrift store)
neutral cloth napkins (no need for them all to match)
shallow box (mine is an upcycled craft liquor box)
plates and silverware
pumpkins/decorative gourds (mine are from Halloween)
votives in glass holders
1 bunch baby’s breath
2 bunches seeded eucalyptus
1 bunch regular eucalyptus
2-3 pounds roasted whole bean coffee in provided paper bags from bulk section (Rainforest Alliance Certified is best!)
tape for favors (optional)
small cardboard boxes for favors (optional)
small hand towels
Note: I’m about to make a big deal about this eucalyptus I purchased. I could not find it without a plastic sleeve and yes, I tried. I could have foraged magnolia or loquat leaves and it would have been local and beautiful. But frankly, I just really, really wanted eucalyptus. I had enormous guilt about this later, which is pointless, so I committed to enjoying and stretching this eucalyptus as far as I could!
How To Assemble Your Coffee Themed Thanksgiving Tablescape:
Using a sharp pair of scissors, snip through twine binding long edges of your coffee bag and remove. Shake thoroughly for stray beans hiding in folds, then iron the coffee bag.
Lay ironed table linen on the table and layer coffee bag(s) with designs showing as desired. Set table with plates, flatware, glasses, etc.
Trim ends of eucalyptus on the diagonal and arrange in mason jars filled with water. Add baby’s breath and set floral arrangements aside. Leaving stems long on the seeded eucalyptus, arrange lengthwise along the center of your tablescape. Place pumpkins over top of the seeded eucalyptus to secure (and hide weak spots).
Thoroughly clean the box you’ve chosen for your centerpiece. I went with a natural wood upcycled liquor box, but any relatively shallow vintage box or bowl will work. (You’ll find some options here and here.) You’re going to be pouring your coffee beans into this box, so take a moment to assess the depth of your box. My box was deeper than I hoped for, as I didn’t fancy spending any more money on coffee that week. IF YOUR BOX IS TOO DEEP FOR THE AMOUNT OF COFFEE BEANS YOU’VE PURCHASED, PROCEED TO STEP 5.
Carefully fold hand towels to fit in a level layer of the bottom of your box. They don’t have to be perfect, but they will reduce the surface area that your beans will need to fill quite dramatically.
Pour coffee beans into box or crate, nestle votives and floral arrangements in as desired, taking care to make sure all are stable.
The great thing about brown paper coffee bags from the bulk section is that they’re unlined, making them recyclable and compostable. The ones in this post came from Whole Foods.
To Make Upcycled Eco-friendly Coffee Bag Favors:
Obviously, remove coffee beans from paper bags provided in bulk section. Using sharp scissors, trim away and discard sealing wire and slit bag along long side fold. Then trim around bottom square of bag, recycle.
Flatten out bag to form one sheet of brown paper. Trim away any rough edges. If your paper is seriously wrinkled, you can gently iron it on a low setting. Take care not to burn your paper.
Pour coffee beans into small boxes and wrap with brown paper salvaged from bags. Secure with small pieces of tape. Draw mugs, coffee cups, messages, etc as desired. Alternately: cut paper from bags into squares, fold the squares into envelopes by bringing three corners together and creasing, then fold intersection of corners. Then pour a small amount of coffee beans into the envelope, fold in remaining corner and seal with tape.
Use your natural fiber ribbon to tie a box around your box, then tuck a sprig of eucalyptus under the ribbon.
Note: You’ve now created zero waste Thanksgiving favors, save for the tape! The box and paper are recyclable, the coffee is consumable and then compostable, and the ribbon and “flourish” is also made from biodegradable materials! If you’re planning to have a lot of guests, I’d recommend picking up a few additional bags or preferably storing up during the month of October/November.
Breaking Down Your Tablescape:
Remove the floral arrangements and votives, set aside. Scoop the coffee beans from your centerpiece into clean mason jars to grind and use over the next month or so.
Reserve glass votives and candles for future use, if wicks are still good, or clean candle residue from glass using this guide. Recycle votive holders, donate, or reserve for next use.
Enjoy floral arrangements or reserve for my DIY compostable eucalyptus wreath or upcoming crafts!
Wash flatware, dishes, linens, and store.
Reserve box for upcoming Christmas gift tutorial.
Reserve burlap coffee bag for upcoming craft.
See last year’s post for what to do with your Halloween pumpkins after Thanksgiving!
As you can see, the best is yet to come! Hang in there with me, y’all. There are some really fun DIYs heading your way!
While the stuffing and the green bean casserole might not be guilt-free, at least your Thanksgiving tablescape will be!
I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving surrounded by friends, family, and floofers.