Thanksgiving Table Setting & Decorating Ideas

Blogger, author, and playwright Marilyn Vos Savant once advised, “Be able to set a table so that you feel like you’re dining, not just sitting and eating.” If there’s ever a time to make a special distinction between dining and eating, it’s Thanksgiving. The most important elements of the holiday are family, friends, and food, but just as the right pair of earrings make an outfit come together, so too does thoughtful decorating at your table. These ideas will help you add those special touches to make your table worthy of your feast.

Take Your Places

When entertaining large groups of people, you can eliminate the awkward guesswork and maneuvering of who-sits-where by creating place cards ahead of time. These cards are not only practical, but they add a beautiful formality to the table for the special event. You should design your place cards with the holiday or event in mind. In the case of Thanksgiving, you can play on the ideas of cornucopias, pumpkins, leaves, friendship, feathers, pilgrims and Native Americans, and (of course) turkeys. If you want to hold place cards upright, consider using pine cones. Not only can you likely find them for free, but you can choose between leaving them in their natural state or spray painting them in gold or silver to make them even fancier. You could also transform wine corks into pilgrims by adding the Puritan black hat and Native Americans by adding a headband and feathers. Names can be glued to a toothpick and stuck on the top of the decorated cork. If you’re looking for something even less involved, try using mini pumpkins. You can write your guests’ names directly on the pumpkins, and everyone gets a souvenir to take home after the meal. If you don’t want names standing upright, consider creating a personalized napkin wrap. You can cut cardstock into a rectangle, add a quotation and the person’s name, and then wrap the paper around a napkin on which the silverware is already arranged.

Front and Centerpieces

The best thing about DIY Thanksgiving centerpieces is that you can make them as simple or as intricate as you want. Some of the most popular options for containers include Mason jars, wooden bowls, wooden trays, and hollowed out pumpkins. If you have time, visit your local thrift store or consignment store and look for odds and ends you can use as containers. That old desk drawer may just be the perfect rustic touch, or those mismatched candlesticks would be lovely amid an array of gourds. Speaking of gourds, you can fill hollowed out pumpkins with flowers to make a beautiful contrast of orange and greens and reds. If you want to play down the orange, you could also spray paint a pumpkin (real or fake) to make it the exact color you want. Burlap and twine add rustic touches to any design, as do sticks and pinecones from outside. Candles are beautiful on a table, but be mindful of whether the candles will pose a danger to young diners or an inconvenience to the serving of food. Another idea is to fill glass vases with pinecones, walnuts (still in their shells), or fake cranberries, which add a nice splash of color.

On the Run

If you have a large, long table, a table runner or long centerpiece will make everyone feel connected, even when sitting on opposite sides of the table. You can go with a traditional cloth table runner of course, but you can also spice things up with a non-traditional option. Consider buying a large roll of butcher paper and taping it down as a table runner. The natural brown color will coordinate with your fall settings, and you can decorate it with guests’ names and quotations, or you can even label where each dish will go when placed on the table. Another idea is to use a long log that spans nearly the length of the table. In this way it functions both as a runner and a centerpiece around which you can place accessory items like miniature pumpkins, apples, and pinecones. If you’ve got a glue gun and some extra time, you can also make a fabulous runner by hot gluing brown feathers onto butcher paper or fabric. Create a natural home for your centerpiece by arranging orange and red feathers in a circular pattern. Place your centerpiece there and then stand back and admire your own fine work.

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