How to Set a Table for Thanksgiving

How to Set a Table for Thanksgiving

How to Set a Table for Thanksgiving
When you host friends or family for Thanksgiving, you want everything to look amazing, but your dining room table is the center of your Thanksgiving celebration. From dinnerware to decor, there are several key elements you'll need to pull together a gorgeous holiday spread. Use these simple tips to create a festive tablescape your guests will love.
How to Set a Table for Thanksgiving

Setting a Thanksgiving Table

1. Start With a Big, Beautiful Dining Set

Priority number one is having enough table space and seating for all your guests. A small, intimate gathering might be fine with a table that seats four to six, but most Thanksgiving celebrations will require more space than that. A rectangular table has a traditional look and naturally seats more than a circular table. Drop-leaf tables are another option that can expand to accommodate more guests than your average dinner setting. If you have more family coming over than you know what to do with, you may have to use multiple tables to seat everyone.

Chair style is important, too. Wood tones are easy to mix and match, and they bring in natural, autumnal elements. Do your best to have enough matching chairs for your table. Mismatched chairs can be stylish in the right situation, but Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped in tradition. If matching chairs aren’t possible, consider a set of dining chair slipcovers or tie oversized bows to the back of each chair for a consistent look.

2. Choose a Matching Tablecloth and Table Runner

You can dress up your bare table in a few different ways. A full tablecloth will give you the most coverage and is great for hiding an unsightly table surface. This may be the best option if your table is overly scratched, worn, or made of plastic. Plaid, gingham, or burlap can add a humble touch to your Thanksgiving table. Drape the table in lace for a more formal holiday setting.

If you have a gorgeous table you want to show off, opt for a table runner instead of a tablecloth. A centered runner can help establish a festive color scheme for your table while still letting your table surface shine. Delicate hues of blue or white create a timeless palette, or you can mimic nature’s falling leaves and apples with rich earthy tones.

Cloth placemats are another way to dress up your table for Thanksgiving, specifically to highlight your table settings. You can use placemats by themselves or pair them with a complementary table runner to really set things off. A regal damask pattern pairs well with an upscale Transitional style. For a casual setting, charm guests with rustic harvest prints or turkey portraits.

3. Beautify the Meal With Classy Table Settings

You don’t have to spend a fortune on new tableware to create stunning table settings. Whether you’re decorating a Thanksgiving table for a neighborly potluck or slow-cooked family feast, consistency is the key to a beautiful tablescape. Platessilverware, and glassware can be simple or ornate, but it’s most important that all your settings match.

Here’s how to create a proper place setting worthy of the turkey:

  • Center the plate in the middle of the placemat or table area where your guest will be sitting.
  • Place the dinner fork to the left of the plate, and the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork.
  • Place the knife on the right side of the plate, with the serrated edge facing inward.
  • Place the dinner spoon to the right of the knife.
  • Place a glass above the knife, so it is above and to the right of the plate.
  • Place a folded cloth napkin on the plate to fancy it up a bit.

4. Use a Festive Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Spruce up your tabletop with some seasonal decor that’s appropriate for the occasion. Antlers, pinecones, and metallic or matte pumpkins are perfect nature-inspired options. Weave in ribbon and twine for more homey accents. Popular colors for fall decorating include neutrals, like tan and white, as well as warm, vibrant splashes of orange, red, and gold. If you have enough space at your table, you can even put together a Thanksgiving centerpiece. Bouquets of autumn-colored flowers and cornucopias filled with dried cornhusks and bumpy squashes are both traditional pieces that will add texture to your table. You can accent your festive Thanksgiving table further with candles and green ivy. Just make sure you leave plenty of room for what comes next.

5. Serve Food on Fancy Serveware

Believe it or not, the color and texture of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes will complement your table arrangement. It’s a good idea to use neutral serveware when possible to avoid having too many competing colors, so break out your bone china to mark the occasion. Richly glazed platters, cheeseboards, gravy boats, and ladles will enhance the experience of your Thanksgiving dinner. Serveware featuring seasonal embellishments, like fruit and acorns, adds whimsy to your table setting. Once you’ve proudly displayed your Thanksgiving spread, you’re done! Just sit back and enjoy the compliments.

Watch How to Decorate Your Table for Thanksgiving

Get even more ideas in our guide to 10 Stylish Fall Tablescapes!