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How to Set a Table for Thanksgiving

How to Set a Table for Thanksgiving

When you host friends or family for Thanksgiving, a decadent meal is only half the job. Enchanting guests with a festive and stylish atmosphere transforms a regular dinner to a true feast. To do so, your dining room table should be the center of your Thanksgiving celebration. From dinnerware to fall 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.


Start With a Big, Beautiful Dining Set

Priority number one is having enough table space and seating for all of your guests. A dining table for four or six may suit an intimate gathering. If you’re planning a larger bash, you’ll need extra dining space. A rectangular table has a traditional look and seats more than a circular table. Drop-leaf tables 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. Planning to invest in extra table space this year? Read How to Buy the Best Dining Room Table to help guide your search.
Chair style is important, too. Wood tones are easy to mix and match, and they bring in natural, autumnal elements. Mismatched chairs exude a bohemian style. So if you don’t have enough identical seating, choose decor that is eclectic and carefree. Because Thanksgiving is so steeped in tradition, you may want a more uniform style. A set of dining chair slipcovers or oversized bows tied to the back of each chair can achieve a consistent look.

Choose a Coordinating 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, hiding any unsightly table surface issues. This may be the best option if your table is 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 wood or glass table you want to show off, opt for a table runner instead of a tablecloth. A centered runner establishes a festive color scheme for your table while 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.
Highlighting your table settings is a must, and fall placemats are a simple way to dress things up. Think cork, linen or rattan to add to your autumnal atmosphere. 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.

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 your Thanksgiving table for a potluck with friends or a feast with family, beautiful tablescapes start with consistency. Platessilverware, and glassware can be simple or ornate, so long as all your settings match.
Here’s how to create a proper place setting worthy of the turkey:
  1. Center the plate in the middle of the placemat or table area where your guest will be sitting.
  2. Place the dinner fork to the left of the plate, and the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork.
  3. Set the knife on the right side of the plate, with the serrated edge facing inward.
  4. Next, place the dinner spoon to the right of the knife.
  5. Set a glass above the knife, so it is above and to the right of the plate.
  6. Finally,  center a folded cloth napkin on the plate to fancy it up a bit.

Use a Festive Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Spruce up your tabletop with some seasonal decor that’s appropriate for the occasion. Scatter antlers, pinecones, and metallic or matte pumpkins to evoke nature’s beauty. 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. When exploring ideas for your fall centerpiece, imagine bouquets of autumn flowers, fall foliage, and overflowing cornucopias. Both are traditional centerpieces that 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.


Serve Food on Fancy Serveware

Believe it or not, the color and texture of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes will complement your table arrangement. Using neutral serveware prevents too many competing colors. Break out your bone china and stoneware to mark the occasion. Enhance the visual experience with rich glazed platters, gravy boats, and ladles. Or keep things rustic with a wooden cheeseboard. Serveware with seasonal embellishments, like fruit and acorns, add whimsy to your table setting. Once you’ve proudly displayed your Thanksgiving spread, you’re done! Just sit back and enjoy the compliments.

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

Watch How to Decorate Your Table for Thanksgiving