The looks of a Thanksgiving table are almost as important as the turkey and other dishes that go on it.
So says Joanie Fields of Pleasanton, one of the city's best-known community volunteers who also has years of professional experience in tasteful culinary presentations.
Small pumpkins—two about 10-inches in size and a third about 12 inches—make good centerpieces, surrounded by colorful flowers and greens. She suggests cutting the pumpkins on their side, lining them with an oasis, and then placing flower arrangements, berries, small gourds and other seasonal items inside, flowing out toward the edges of the table.
"This makes for a beautiful table but doesn't look like a jungle where guests can't see each other or the turkey and dressing," Fields said. "You want low-lying, festive decorations in the center. I always use just three because you always want an odd number of decorations for a centerpiece."
Fall leaves, grapes, small roses—also complement the centerpiece, she said.
"Your dinner guests can munch on the cluster of grapes while waiting for the turkey to be passed to them," she added. "If using stemmed flowers cut them to fit the centerpiece early and place the stems in warm water with a bit of bleach added to kill any bacteria."
Fields, who helped prepare the Christmas trees and other decorations for ValleyCare's Christmas Tree Lane auction last week, has seven years of experience in the catering business. She also worked in the floral department at Safeway and taught retail floral at Village High School for seven years.