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Setting a Thanksgiving Table

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

With the US celebration of Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there is still time to get your tablescape planned. It doesn't need to be complicated and you probably already have most of what you need to get going.

If you have a dedicated dining room that you don't need to use much between now and turkey day, a great planning strategy is to get your table set ahead of time. It gives you time to lay out what you already have and find those special pieces that are up in a cupboard or stored away. Once you have a basic layout of your table setting you will see what might be missing or how you can enhance the space with a few decorative details.

tablescape, looking towards our curio cabinet

considerations for creating your tablescape:

- are you going for casual or formal style, or somewhere in-between?

- decide between using a table cloth or have a bare table, or a table-runner

- placemats, chargers, or none?


- napkins (paper or cloth)

- plates (dinner, salad, dessert - paper, plastic, china or stoneware?)

- flatware (plastic, standard or fine silver?)

- glasses (water goblets, wine glasses, other)

- serveware (platters, bowls, serving utensils)


- candles for visual warmth (candelabra, votives or other candle holders)

- flowers or foliage

- napkin rings

- name/place cards

- other decorative items like pumpkins or small seasonal decorations

Let's get started!

our festive table

What I composed for my table this year is a mix of sweet vintage with a balancing dose of modern. The only things I purchased new were cloth napkins, about $12 worth of fresh flowers and foliage from Trader Joe's, and small colorful glasses.

festive placesetting for a Thanksgiving table

Using my grandmother's vintage wedding china and silverplate flatware were my primary elements of inspiration. These dishes are primarily white with an edge of pale yellow and black and gold detailing. Because the yellow is pale, it ends up acting as a neutral, so I had a lot of flexibility in how I chose the overall color palette.

I decided upon a neutral backdrop, using a cotton table cloth of light gray, topped with darker gray placemats. Next came the vintage dinner plates, ceramic, lattice-edge salad plates (hand-me-downs from my mother), and new seasonal napkins.

I chose these particular Klara floral napkins because they have a nod to fall, with the golden-orange color leaves, but they have a versatility beyond Thanksgiving with the gray and blue-gray. I can use these really anytime in the fall - from September through November.

Thanksgiving tablescape

Thanksgiving table (and is that my dog, Ollie, in the background?!)

My centerpiece was fairly simple but interesting, adding both height and length along along the table. I placed a turquoise placemat in the center of the table with a large white platter upon it. I then positioned a two-candle candelabra on the platter and placed eucalyptus greens on and around the platter, followed with small white flowers along with some crimson blooms and foliage. Once that was arranged, I used three pumpkins on the centerpiece, plus white pumpkins on each place setting.

In an earlier Instagram post ,I mentioned that I prefer my holiday decorations to be useful for more than just one celebration or holiday. In this case, the small pumpkins were all part of my Halloween decor that are now being used in my Thanksgiving tablescape.

Thanksgiving table setting

close up of pumpkin and flower centerpiece

Overview of Thanksgiving table setting

overhead view of centerpiece and placesettings

turquoise blue glasses add a colorful touch to the tablescape

These simple but lovely turquoise blue glasses came from Target, but I have also seen similar ones at Anthropologie. You never know what you might find - both stores are also know as my danger zone!

simple miniature pumpkins make an adorable decoration to the place setting

a variety of pumpkins give the table a casual festive fall

close up of patterned cloth napkins

another table view of my Thanksgiving tablescape

the glow of candles make the table seem warm and intimate

candlelight adds warmth and intimacy to a tablescape

Wishing you and yours a festive holiday season. May you be inspired by those around you and the things that ignite your imagination.

As always, please email me ( your questions comments, and feedback. I love hearing from you and always endeavor to respond to all emails!

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