Thanksgiving tablescape tips

Thanksgiving tablescape tips

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love Christmas, but not how commercialized it’s become or how it seems to start earlier every year. Thanksgiving is unique in that there’s not a focus on buying or merchandise, aside from food and tableware, and it’s just a day to share a meal with loved ones and appreciate what you already have.

Of course, your table takes center stage. Even people who aren’t that interested in tables otherwise usually do a Thanksgiving tablescape. If you’re not someone who sets an elaborate table regularly, it might be hard to know where to begin. There’s a plethora of advice out there, but since you’re here, I’ll let you in on my key Thanksgiving tablescape tips. (As always, no affiliate links are used; these are just items I like. Photos are my own. Keep the table party going by purchasing a book.)

Create a layered look


The key to a memorable (and Instagrammable) tablescape is depth. This is the element that lackluster/bare-bones tables almost always lack. I always see a lot of plates on bare tables and centerpieces trying to do all the work.

No matter how cute your turkey dinner plates, don’t just set them on top of a bare table. Start with a tablecloth or at least a table runner. I prefer a tablecloth, but occasionally I like to showcase my inlaid dining table that is never uncovered ever. Make sure your tablecloth is large enough to cover your table with at least 12 inches of drape. I like one all the way to the floor, but admit to being extra.

Next, placemats are a nice and tablecloth-saving touch. I also use plate chargers to set off my china. Now is when you add those dinner plates, plus a salad plate on top. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but it adds so much visual interest and dimension to your table.

Use what you already have

silver tablescapeIf you’re gathering inspo from Instagram and Pinterest, you might think you have to run out and purchase a bunch of items – new linens, new plates, decor items. That’s always an option. To be honest, I did that this year. I was feeling a change. Just be sure you’ll use the new items from year to year and buy quality pieces.

Don’t feel compelled to buy – if you look at the various tablescape accounts on Instagram, you’ll notice them reusing the same china multiple times. That’s fine! China is expensive and hard to store! I have two sets of china, both inherited, that I use, plus our wedding dinnerware and various salad plates I buy to accent the above.

For decor, I don’t think I own anything that’s specifically to use in tablescapes. I always forage from the house – I love using the set of carved wooden animals from Margaret’s dresser, various candlesticks, citrus fruit, my collection of ginger jars. I’ve even used a set of tiny cat plates that I got as a child.

Maybe you don’t collect/hoard weird antiques. That’s fine. This is an area where you can get creative, and the most unexpected items are often the winners.

Mix colors and patterns

pink tablescapeThis ties into the layered look idea. A monochrome scheme can be very chic, especially if you use a variety of patterns to keep it from looking bland. If you don’t decorate or create tablescapes often, this is a good way to play it safe. For example, I love this celadon tablecloth with these celadon napkins in a different pattern. Someone please pair these plates with those linens.

Another way to keep the pattern play from getting out of hand is to use neutrals. Fall tables are perfect for this. Thanksgiving always lends itself to rich browns and creams and navy. One of my favorite fall neutrals is rust, which isn’t seen quite as often as brown or beige, and pairs beautifully with any shade of blue. It reminds me of fall trees against a deep blue sky.

Have fun with it!

In the end, it’s just a table. Especially on Thanksgiving, it’s more about the people sitting around it than the harmonious interplay of colors you create.