Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving place setting ideas can help you create the perfect tablescape.
Anjelika Gretskaia/Moment/Getty Images

12 Ideas For Gorgeous Thanksgiving Place Settings

Set a festive Thanksgiving table with creative touches that are easy to pull off.

What could make a Thanksgiving table any more inviting than a big golden turkey, overflowing bowls of macaroni and cheese, spouts of gravy and tart cranberry jewels? How about creative Thanksgiving place settings accented with autumnal touches? From natural accents like gourds, pumpkins and branches, to colorful stem and silverware, these ideas are rich in visual impact, and cost little time or money to put together.

The first thing you can think about when planning a Thanksgiving tablescape is how much room you actually have at the table. So lay out your placemats and chairs, and set out your empty serving trays a few days before Thanksgiving so you can see how much space you have for decorations. Then think about a color scheme. You can play off of the color of your walls, your dishes, or the food; you can choose to go with a monochromatic look or mix-and-match tones that have the same vibe. From there, you can start to incorporate your dishes, cutlery and decorations. These ideas are meant to inspire your creativity, and spark a tablescape and design all your own.

1

Get Color Coordinated

Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

You can put together a beautiful tablescape very simply, and very quickly, by sticking with this one rule: be color coordinated. First, choose a few things to match on the table, like the napkins and flowers, and select ones that have the same tone. (A few festive suggestions: orange, red, gold.) Leave the rest of the objects on the table (like the plates and glasses) in neutral white or clear glass. The effect will be truly striking in its simplicity. Bonus points if most of the foods you bring to the table are in that color scheme, too.

2

Bring In Nature

Liliboas/E+/Getty Images

Autumn is an ideal time to head outside and look for beautiful items from nature with which to decorate your table and mantles for Thanksgiving. Even simple tree branches can be spread or arranged in the center of your table to add a rustic (and on-trend) element that’ll bring visual interest. Snip off a few branches from a pine tree and arrange them in a vase for a simple centerpiece. Use pinecones as decorative toppers over each napkin, or as holders for place cards. Group gourds and pumpkins in different colors and place them all over your table. Similarly, you can arrange bowls of seasonal fruits, like apples or pomegranates, and place them out on side tables. Any way you design, natural objects can add a seasonal spin without you needing to spend a lot of time or money.

3

Write Up Place Cards

Foodcollection/Foodcollection/Getty Images

It might seem like a formal move, but setting out handwritten place cards on a Thanksgiving table can actually help create a more communal tone, especially if you’re joining together new friends or members of the family. It’s a great way for people to become familiar with the names as they scan and admire the Thanksgiving tablescape. And you can be creative with how you display each name card; you can go with store-bought holders you can use at every holiday, or you can tuck them into pinecones, set them atop plates, lean them on wine glasses — there’s really no wrong way to go.

4

Mismatch Your Glasses

Stemware and drinking glasses can be affordably sourced now from home decor stores like Home Goods, websites like Wayfair, and flea markets and antique shops around the country. And Thanksgiving is a great time to pull out pieces you’ve collected over the years and put them to gorgeous use. Have a little fun with your glassware, and mix and match designs. Display colorful options alongside plates, or stick with one tone that works with your tablescape. Use a variety of glass sizes and shapes — from Mason jars to water goblets and champagne flutes — for a not-so-serious dinner party. Cheers!

5

Display Decorative Napkin Rings

Shutterstock

Need a little something to liven up your place settings? Use decorative napkin rings to display your napkins in a playful or elegant shape. Once placed atop each plate, you’ll see your table come to life. Think about using two coordinating napkin colors — like yellow and red, or silver and gold — and alternating them across all of your place settings for an even more eye-catching arrangement. And if you don’t have store bought napkin rings, you can be creative and wrap napkins in twine, ribbon, or yarn. You can even turn it into a craft, and ask your kiddos to cut up strips of construction paper and glue them together to form circular rings.

6

Consider Colorful Cutlery

A new set of utensils can be a relatively affordable way to add a dash of elegance and surprising pop of color to the table. You can find sets of 20 pieces in metallic hues like rose gold or yellow gold, and arrange them alongside each dish, or crossed atop every plate. Another idea? Bundle groupings of spoons, forks, and knives, and display each bunch in a tall glass Mason jar; arrange the jars down the center of the table and allow guests to pull as they need. Either way, the useful cutlery will help you make a striking style statement.

7

Trade Chairs For A Bench

Mint Images/Mint Images RF/Getty Images

Thanksgiving is meant to be about gratitude and togetherness — so why not literally bring people close together by sitting on a bench for dinner? Benches can be found on home decor websites, like Wayfair, and they can put a totally fresh spin on your dining room or kitchen table. Pillows strewn atop of it can also help decorate, and provide comfort to your guests. And for Thanksgiving, it’s a unique touch that also brings home the message of the holiday. When the holiday meals are over, you can display the bench against the wall of any room and use it as decor.

8

Add Some Lights

Liliboas/E+/Getty Images

Nothing creates a festive, intimate ambiance like candlelight. You can bring that warm glow to your dining room table by dotting it with votive candles (either real, or battery-powered), or with strings of small, battery-powered twinkle lights. If you’re going with votives, you can place one at the base of every stemware setting, so the light can bounce and reflect off of the glasses. If you’d rather use string lights, try running them down the center of an angular table, or bunching them inside jars at the center of a round table. Either way, the light they emit will cast a soft, flattering light among guests.

9

Tie Up Your Utensils

Shutterstock

This is another simple idea that goes such a long way to create a more unique, memorable table setting. Simply place a cloth napkin under every setting of silverware. Then slip a piece of colored ribbon under the napkin and tie it loosely around. Want to get even more decorative? Find a colorful branch, like a sprig of berries, or a few stems of rosemary, and tuck them behind or on top of the napkin before tying everything together with your ribbon. You can even color coordinate your ribbon, napkin, and branches, like, say, in tones of green or red for an elegant look.

10

Stack Your Plates

Shutterstock

This tip is practical and pretty: At each place setting, stack each person’s appetizer, salad and dinner plates. You can separate each layer with a folded napkin, and top the upper plate with a decorative gourd, pumpkin, leaf, or bundle of herbs. Then, as your guests enjoy each course, the top plate can be brought to the sink or dishwasher and the meal can continue without having to reset any plates. A sweet touch? Write a personalized note, or a sentiment of gratitude, and place it on top of the last plate, hidden for each of your guests to find just as they’re ready to tuck into dessert.

11

Use Cookies To Mark Place Settings

Recruit kids, friends, and family to make cookies before Thanksgiving day. Cut out your cookies in the shape of letters, then use the first letter of every guest’s name to mark their place at the table. Arrange everyone’s cookie on the center of their plate, and watch every person break out into a grin when they see their place card is edible. Think about frosting each cookie in the same color as your table napkins. It’s another task to get done, sure. But then again, maybe your kids could use something to do to stay busy before your guests arrive.

12

End With A Champagne Toast

Sure, formal meals typically start with a toast, but how elegant and fitting for the Thanksgiving holiday would it be to end the meal with a sweet sip of champagne? Set the table with a flute placed along side each dish (these slender Brooks & Bridges glasses from The Black Home by Neffi Walker add a beautiful visual). Then as dessert comes to a close, friends and family can pour some bubbly and say cheers for all the things they’re grateful, and all they hope for the year ahead. You can’t round out a meal any better than that.