My Would-Be Thanksgiving Table

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I’d like to start by pointing out the obvious that everyone, I’m sure, is feeling— HOW is it already Thanksgiving?! I’m not complaining because being closer to Thanksgiving means we’re closer to Christmas, though I may or may not already have my house half decorated reeeeal wintery… but we’ll get to that when its more widely accepted as “time for Christmas.”

Today I wanted to share with y’all what my “would-be” Thanksgiving table looks like. Basically how I would tablescape if I were to be entertaining in my itty bitty house on Thanksgiving Day, thank goodness that’s not actually the case! I’m a sucker for a nicely set table. If you follow along in my Instagram Stories, particularly during a family Sunday night dinner, you know I come from a household that tends to turn any night into a full-scale party. We set the table even when its just the siblings eating take out. Kudos to Mom for instilling an innate sense of celebration in us three— we mock often, but at the end of the day, even my 21 year old brother will pull out placemats unprompted. :)

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A few notes that I kept top of mind while pulling together all the elements for my faux tablescape—

Keep it simple.

You may not believe it, but every piece of my table setting was something that I already owned. That’s right, no hefty purchases needed to make your setting feel fancy and fresh! You’d probably be surprised at the amount of creativity that can come out of pairing objects together that you normally don’t. For instance:

  • I rarely use all three of my dish sizes together, so seeing them all stacked already feels new to me.

  • Stacking my agate cheese board on top of a coffee table book within my color scheme makes for a low centerpiece so you can still chat across the table. And again you may not believe it, but those teensy vases are actually shot glasses [hehe] with some cut roses picked up from the grocery store. (Okay so I lied, I bought one thing).

  • All of the flatware and stemware is what I use every day. Well, most days my wine is poured into a plastic cup but you get what I mean. I pulled my main pieces first (plates, flatware, stemware), determined the colors that I already had available, then filled in with accessories to match. That’s how we got the rosy palette!

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Make it personal.

Guests love feeling all the more invited into your home! My mom and I went to see Ina Garten speak last week (we died, she was incredible) and one of my favorite quotes from her was “When you cook, you create a community around you.” She emphasized how special it makes your friends feel when they sit down to eat something you made, and the paper person inside me was screaming, Why not make it all that much more special by having a spot created especially for them?

This can be accomplished with a simple place card or party favor. In my case, I kind of blended both! I had some leftover gold cardstock from a recent job, cut the larger sheet into smaller tags, calligraphed a guest name and tied it onto a mini white pumpkin for take-home. The gold matched perfectly with the rim of the stemware and y’all know how much I LOVE white ink. An all around win.

Takeaway: Scavenge your drawers for some easy craft supplies and create your personal touch by tying a handmade place card onto a fun object for your guest to take home— pumpkin, plant, pine cone, photo, and I didn’t even mean for them to all start with a P.

 Click the image to access a printable gratitude list that you can use for your Thanksgiving table settings!

Click the image to access a printable gratitude list that you can use for your Thanksgiving table settings!

Last but not least,

Let’s not forget why we’re all here!

My favorite thing to include on my Thanksgiving table is a gratitude list for guests to fill out. It’s super easy to get caught up in the highlights of the holiday (ahem, the menu, ahem) but I always like to make sure that my family has even a scrap of paper to be able to write down a few things we’re all thankful for. We’ve done a good job of saving the last few years’ lists, and its really fun to reread around this time of year to see what’s still on the list and what’s changed.

Y’all are in luck, because as I was making a list to include on my own table, I thought it’d be great to be able to share with y’all in case you’re needing to add to your own table this Thursday! You’ll notice the quote selected happens to match *perfectly* with the rosy theme my table has going on, but is also a great one for gratitude in general. :)

Click here to download your printable gratitude list that you can have ready for your guests.

And now you’re all set to enjoy an easy Thanksgiving tablescape this Thursday. Scroll through the additional photos below to see how my final place setting came together. Hope to see y’all using the gratitude lists with your friends + fams, and please tag @m.calligraphy so I can take a peek!

Happiest Thanksgiving—

MH

How To: The Personalized Thank You Note

  A glimpse at my personal stationery that I loved developing very simply so I could play with adding color + personalization based on the recipient.

A glimpse at my personal stationery that I loved developing very simply so I could play with adding color + personalization based on the recipient.

One of my very favorite ways to give a surprise is via the good ol' post office, because nowadays, snail mail always feels unexpected. A sad truth that I just hate facing! That being said, there's nothing better than sifting through what seems to be all junk mail, and seeing your name handwritten on a bright envelope.

A lost art, but an important gesture that we should work on protecting, is that of the handwritten Thank You note. Emily Post says there is nothing more personal than a handwritten note, and in a way, you kind of get to know a person based on the type of correspondence they assemble: What kind of paper will they use? Colored envelope or white? A quirky stamp or an American flag forever? Decisions, decisions.

I thought today I'd share with y'all some of my personal favorite 'ingredients' for making your Thank You note pop, and making your recipient feel like you put in some effort to thank them for whatever it may be. 

*Pro tip: Sending a Thank You note for a seemingly small gesture is one of the BIGGEST gestures reflective of you! So next time, pop one in the mail to thank the friend that picked up your lunch or dinner just because. 

Now let's get to chatting about what will take your snail mail that extra step:

  A look at one of the ways I've played with my personal stationery to go for a monochromatic look, vs. the previous pop of blue. 

A look at one of the ways I've played with my personal stationery to go for a monochromatic look, vs. the previous pop of blue. 

Your stationery.

Your starting point. At the most basic level, you can go personalized (meaning you have your name or monogram on the card), or you can go off-the-shelfboxed (meaning you purchase a set of cards that come packaged together and all look the same. Usually 8 or 10 cards in a box). I like to keep my actual card very simple. It allows your handwritten note to shine the most, and allows you to play with other elements (envelope, liner, stamp, etc.) to make each card you send quite unique. 

You'll notice across some of the photos included here that I like a personalized flat card vs. a folded card. I have my business name situated small at the top, with a thin black border. I also have it printed on a double-thick cardstock so it makes a bigger impression. (NOTE: thicker stock requires extra postage.) The overall simplicity of the card allows me to mix and match with the other elements we'll next talk about!

  And another look at how the SAME flat correspondence card plays with an all-white appearance, but includes a playful liner to keep it feeling informal.

And another look at how the SAME flat correspondence card plays with an all-white appearance, but includes a playful liner to keep it feeling informal.

Your envelope.

Just because the stationery you bought comes with corresponding envelopes, doesn't mean you have to use those. Most sets come with white or off-white envelopes. Not very much fun, huh? The outside of your Thank You note is your first impression to your recipient, so make it unique! Use a colored envelope with contrasting white ink (this Uniball white gel pen from Paper Source will help out if you don't yet know how to ink with a calligraphy pen). Or, if you do want to stick with a white envelope, use a colored ink pen instead of just blue or black (I personally love the Sakura gelly roll pens - flashback to grade school?). 

I usually keep a stock of Paper Source A7 envelopes in a variety of colors so I can mix and match. And my last note about your envelope - my absolute favorite element for personalizing a Thank You note is to add an envelope liner (the black and white interior of the blue envelope in the top photo). Paper Source sells a liner template kit that includes multi-sized stencils you can use to trace onto a patterned paper of any kind (specialty papers, scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, etc.) and cut out for an easy fit inside your envelope. Then just use a glue stick to seal it down, and Voila! An extra little surprise when your recipient opens up their envelope. 

Your stamp.

Seems like an area that really wouldn't allow for much variation, but the stamp may be my second-most favorite element to personalize on a Thank You note! I always ask the post office what stamps are available vs. just receiving the standard forever stamp. This way you can look at options. I also keep pretty close tabs on USPS.com to see what new stamps are seasonally released - it's the paper nerd in me.

I'm a little excessive and reeeeally enjoy the custom stamp option from PhotoStamps.com or Minted.com. For the "love, Madeleine" stamps, I actually hand wrote the greeting and scanned the design in for printing. I went with a clean black-and-white design for [again] purposes of mixing and matching, but love that you can take your personalization that extra step further.

Your handwriting!

No sloppy copies (haven't heard that phrase in some time, am I right?). This is not your grocery list or your work notes, or the back of a receipt in your car! This is a personal expression of gratitude, so give it the courtesy of a nice appearance. You don't have to have the most gorgeous penmanship of all time, that's not where I'm going. But you do want to be sure your note is legible (first and foremost!) and also reads as thoughtful. The more attention to detail you give, the more special your recipient feels on the other end. 

Additionally for consistency's sake, I recommend using the same color ink for your handwritten note as you do for your envelope addressing (when possible / applicable). For example, I'd use a black pen with white calligraphy ink, or a pink pen for both inside and out. The goal is to create a seamless experience and not have one design element catch your eye in a negative way!

Your timeliness.

This may be the most important - DON'T wait weeks on end to send your Thanks. You've now made your recipient feel like it was a burden to thank them for the nicety they gave to you, because you've taken so long. Emily Post says to send a Thank You note most immediately, though a late Thank You note is better than no note at all :)

From top to bottom of this post, I've given you a few different examples of ways that I've personalized my own stationery to each recipient, while keeping the consistent flat correspondence card. Similar elements, very different vibes associated with each. There's lots of flexibility when you keep your stationery piece simple!

Alright, y'all. QUITE a lot of thought on the handwritten Thank You note here, but all good stuff and all equally important. The biggest thing to remember is that you want that recipient to feel like their note was written just for them, so let that shine through in (1) what you write to them and (2) how you present it!

XO. Mad.

3 Cheers for 3 Years

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There are a few things I'm amazed at while writing this post:

  • M Calligraphy has hit another milestone - 3 whole years in business. Truly, how did time fly that quickly?!
  • It's been a full year since my last blog post. Now I'm not out here claiming to live the blogger lifestyle, but a full 365 days between posts seems pathetic. 

Because of the latter, I feel like my three-year post wouldn't differ too much from my two-year post, and you've got seriously easy access to reading that one. So instead of writing to y'all about how fabulous the past year has been — including but not limited to the first ever Cookies & Calligraphy classes with Cade's Cakes (more to come this year), lots and lots of small business retreats encouraging me to learn how to best grow M Calligraphy (kicking myself for not sharing recaps on how rewarding those were) and the kindest clients that let me play big (custom lavender wedding ink... I mean seriously) — I thought I would instead share the three areas I'm most excited to focus on as I step in to Year 4. That I was able to make all start with the letter B because I'm OCD. 

  Goal for future state of Maddie Made — share tid bits about some of my favorite places with y'all like  Seaside, FL.

Goal for future state of Maddie Made — share tid bits about some of my favorite places with y'all like Seaside, FL.

1 | BLOG 

If you're here, you noticed that the ever-vague 'M Calligraphy blog' finally claimed a name! Maddie Made is a name that has been stuck in the back of my mind since high school, when my mom considered using it for one of her own lines. I've always thought I'd one day evolve the M Calligraphy brand into one called Maddie Made, but I've never been sure of what it would function as or look like. So in the meantime, why not utilize the name as a host for all the happenings. My hope is that it will encompass not only paper projects, but personal musings as well (main categories being travel + around town). 

2 | BTS (behind the scenes)

A little more time spent on the journey and less on the destination. HA — don't worry, I'm talking in project terms. I really want to bring y'all along with me as I complete projects, so I can share my tips and tricks. Whether it be tackling a high stack of envelopes and working through custom ink mixing, or lettering on a new material and roughin' it through trial and error of paints and pens. I think the behind-the-scenes is just as important as the final product. 

3 | BRAND

As alluded to in #1, I'm constantly thinking about where M Calligraphy is going / growing next. It's so important to me to be aware and observant about what I'm working on, what I'm becoming more interested in, which of my interests may be fading, and what wakes me up to jot down in my notes (Yes that happens, or I dream about it repeatedly until I finally remember whatever 'it' is while awake). In the later half of 2017, I attended a crazy number of industry conferences or workshops that had me crazy stimulated and excited for future-state of M Calligraphy. In most of 2018, I tabled that self-discussion to focus on the actual work I was doing. Time to get back in there and really ideate on what's to come! And of course I'll keep y'all posted. 

What I thought would be a baby blog post got a little lengthy. Eek. What I'll leave y'all with is my biggest goal that kind of holds me accountable to all three focus areas up there: Share 2-4 blog posts per month. NOT HARD, MADDIE!

Having established that goal, I guess I'll chat with y'all shortly. 

(anything is shorter than 365 days later)

XO. Mad.

M Calligraphy Turns Two!

M Calligraphy Turns Two!

Well, here we are again with another M Calligraphy birthday and WOW that year flew by. And somehow, this August 2017 has brought the most steady stream of booked business I think my lil inbox has ever received. It's overwhelming in the absolute best way — I love so. much. that y'all think to reach out to M Calligraphy for all of your special days, I love when my oldest friends send me a note that I am the only calligrapher they thought to email, I love when a new name I don't recognize signs up for Madeleine Mailings, I love when I finish a job and have all of five minutes before it's time to start the next 200 envelopes. I can't tell y'all how much I love all of it, and saying Thank You doesn't begin to cover it. 

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Hey hey, August. Your resident camp girl, here.

Hey hey, August. Your resident camp girl, here.

Aaaaah, August. The end of summer, the start of school. Well - used to be.

August used to represent a heavy-hitting month of summer camp, back to school, and an *insane* amount of errands in between. Target runs. Doctor’s appointments. Office Depot trips. The time of year when everyone has the exact. same. to-do list.  

Though a fast-paced hot mess, I always looked forward to the month. Gave our house a sense of purpose again. Growing up, I spent my last two weeks of summer each year at Camp Mystic - the actual best place on earth. Down in the Texas Hill Country on the Guadalupe River, situated in the greenest stretch and populated with the most genuine of folk. Mystic is pretty much solely responsible for the rose-colored glasses I like to view the world through.

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New year, new word.

New year, new word.

Always feels a little weird to already be in a new year, but 2017 doesn't happen to feel that foreign. In fact, feels like she arrived right on time. I was ready for a fresh face and all the oozing optimism that comes with January 1st. 2016 was full of huge moments for me [insert: graduation, new job, travel dabbles, flourishing business, and all the hype/fear associated with each of those things] but often times huge moments cause a stir rather than giving comfort. 2017: I am all too ready for you to make things a *bit* more comfortable.

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It's beginning to look a lot liiiiike...

It's beginning to look a lot liiiiike...

Christmas is in 40 days. SO. CLOSE. 

I had a light weekend. It was all too much like myself to find something to fill it with instead of enjoying the quiet, and I think y'all will be very glad that I did. Today commences my [personal] holiday season — Judge all you want that I've kicked off too early, but the holidays are too feel-good to let them only last the month of December. I like to pad on a little extra time. 

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Fall Feels

Fall Feels

Two months too long since I vowed to keep this space updated with the goings on of M Calligraphy - yikes! It would be entirely too daunting to try and play blog catch-up. Tell me who has that kind of time. Instead, I'm sharing with you a few of my favorite fall highlights from the dark black hole that is Instagram. I figured this would be a more funky way to share a bit about where my focus has been:

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