Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Napkin Rings (Lincoln's Proclamation)

Have a little humble history and thanks with your holiday meal, by sharing quotes from Lincoln or Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamations setting forth this great holiday of remembrance.  
Do a little remembering of your own.

Napkin rings.  As a college student, I have just had little use for them.  When do I hold dinner parties that consist of much more than pizza?  Okay. So I'm not that stereotypical; I actually really like having people over for dinner, and love a nice spread (ever see my Cheese Party post?).  But because I have a hard time limiting my guest list, still share most things with roommates (so keep my good dishes, etc, boxed away), and because I'm usually trying to cram all those people into my small living room to sit around a card table, a folding kitchen table, and my couches--my dinners usually end up looking something like this: 

Yaaay for people crammed into my small living room.
Where I then cover said card tables (to cover the craft paint stains on the card table) with butcher paper and crayons, Macraoni Grill style, and let people entertain themselves by drawing stuff like this:

"Denver" being taken over by a Ninja Turtle head on a stick figure.
 Or this:

(Someone was really in the Easter spirit that year.)  

So....napkin rings haven't really been anything on my radar to actually use until recently.  But, let me tell you, I appreciate a good place setting. Do I ever.  Ugh.  Anyways. 

Well, this year I was looking for some ideas for a simple but nice looking napkin ring I could make to use for Thanksgiving. I had the vague memory of going to a friend's home for Thanksgiving one year, and his parents reading some random trivia facts about Thanksgiving, and then reading aloud George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation (designating Nov. 26th as a national day of "thankgiving and prayer").  I like history, and I certainly believe we have much to be thankful for in this great nation.  So I got to thinking, wouldn't it be neat to share snippets of that Thanksgiving Proclamation on these rings--something that each family member could read aloud to the others to sort of help appreciate some of what this holiday was originally intended to be?  And some of the spirit that went into it's creation?  I'm all about that.  So I came up with these, actually from Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation (making it the 4th Thursday of every Nov., instead of always the 26th) and wanted to share them with you.  

They are really easy to make, as you may have already surmised.  Basically, find a shape you like, print your words inside it, cut out the shape around the words, and glue to a strip of paper.  (Just use a glue dot, or piece of tape to attach it on the back.)  

I found my basic shape in my Silhouette library.  Once I had that selected, I right clicked on the object and then selected "internal offset."  This makes the exact same shape just within the original shape, turning one into a border.  You can then adjust how wide the distance is between them (aka, the sizing of the inner or outer shape to serve as a backing piece.)  This is a great tool.  I typed up my words, and used the print and cut feature to cut these out real quick. I then went around my inner piece with ink/chalk, and then glued them all onto a 2.5in strip of paper.  Looking back I would have made them a little smaller so that you could see more of the patterned paper that actually wraps around the napkin.  But I still think they turned out nice.

 Once the quote is glued on, just wrap the paper around the napkin, and secure with tape or a glue dot.

If you are like me and need a tutorial on how to fold napkins for such an affair, or if you want great tutorials on a ton of different napkin folding techniques, click here.  Good stuff.

As I mentioned, I actually ended up using quotes from Abraham Lincoln's official Thanksgiving Proclamation.  Though using some from Washington's would be great as well.  I picture them sort of being placed around the table, in order, and each person perhaps reading theirs aloud.  A bit of a history lesson, some humble gratitude expressed, making this all-in-all a classy, but humbly grateful meal. :) 

Here are a few other quotes that I pulled from it that I thought I might use for the remainder of the napkin rings.  I think the words are kind of amazing, especially as you read the rest of the proclamation and think of the context:

     * "The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.

     * To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

     * No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. 

     * They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. 

     * It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. 

     * I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. "


One other idea would be to combine those trivia questions of my friend's Thanksgiving table, with the need for a napkin ring.  You could easily turn some Thanksgiving facts into a game in a couple of ways.  Either print a question on the front with the answer on the back (and have everyone try and guess), or, if your group is large enough, have the question printed on one napkin ring, and the answer on another.  People can try and match up or partner up with their "other half" by seeing which answers seem to answer which questions, and vice versa.   Then use that partnership to create the teams for a three-legged race in the backyard after dinner. ;)  

Either way, these napkin rings are sure to be conversation starters around the table, and to get everyone involved in said conversation.  

They've got some great Thanksgiving facts that you can use here.  For instance, did you know that it was Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor, who persuaded Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a National Holiday?  She also just so happens to be the author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb."  Huh.  Also, the first Thanksgiving lasted...(drum roll) 3 days.  Think of all that pie.  (Actually, they didn't eat much pie then.)  Turn them into both true or false questions, and Q&A. (Actually, came across a free printable of some of these that you might want to check out here. From the site where I was inspired by the look of these simple rings.)

Happy dining!


  1. This looks really neat!

    1. Somehow I missed your comment until now, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous :), but thanks! Glad you like them. :)