Creating a Thanksgiving Tablescape

The table is the primary gathering place to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving feast. A beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape serves as a statement piece and enhances to the ambiance and appreciation of the meal.

These decorative swaths of seasonality can be achieved with a variety of items, many of which can be repurposed, reimagined, and combined in a uniquely attractive manner. Local markets and nature are ideal places for inspiration.

The first step is to choose a theme and a color palette. A tablescape can be simple or multifaceted, elegant or traditional, rustic or refined. They can embrace all the colors of fall or showcase one or two hues.

Next, decide on linens, or lack thereof. Tablescapes can sit atop a tablecloth, runner, or even a multitude of place mats. Choose the colors and fabrics that lend themselves to your chosen theme. Some examples include:

  • Burlap
  • Linen
  • Canvas
  • Kraft paper
  • Macrame
  • Velvet
  • Satin

Choose a centerpiece. This might be a floral arrangement you purchase or create, a grouping of candles, a lantern, or a large pumpkin. Choose something with height or a shape that stands out. Get creative. Explore the objects you have at home, or look for a variety of items that, when grouped together, create something unusual. Baskets, rustic wooden boxes, and various serving platters also add height, layering, texture, and interest. Some ideas are listed below.

Plates & Platters

  • Slate or marble cheeseboards
  • Wood-slice chargers
  • Antique silver platers (leave the patina for a rustic appearance)
  • Wooden cheese or serving platters
  • Ceramic platters, decorative or plain
  • Antique plates

Candles & Holders

  • Pillar
  • Tealights
  • Tapers
  • Votives
  • Container candles

Repurposed Items

  • Home décor items
  • Lanterns
  • Wicker baskets
  • Wooden boxes
  • Ceramic or silver pitchers
  • Decorative bottles

If you want to keep it simple, a stunning centerpiece may be all you want. But, should you wish to expand your tablescape, seasonal fruits and vegetables add dimension, size, texture, and color. Again, refer to your theme for the ones that work best. Walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and others left in-shell can also be incorporated.

Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables

  • Pumpkins of all sizes, shapes, and colors
  • Gourds of all sizes, shapes, and colors
  • Butternut, kabocha, and other squash
  • Artichokes
  • Pomegranates
  • Purple cabbage
  • Pears
  • Green and red apples
  • Persimmons
  • Lemons
  • Oranges

Add in a touch of nature with colorful autumn leaves, garlands, and found objects, like pinecones. Your backyard, garden, or local open space (if allowable) are bursting with bountiful ideas. Look for and collect items mentioned below that fit within your tablescape theme.

Leaves, Branches & Garlands

  • Magnolia
  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Eucalyptus
  • Strawberry tree
  • Branches with colorful leaves, ornamental berries, or uniquely shaped
  • Sprigs of rosemary, sage, or other herbs

Found Objects

  • Pinecones
  • Acorns
  • Feathers
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Sculptural pieces of wood
  • Shells

Some other ideas include:

  • Use tiny twinkle lights to add a subtle sparkle when intertwined among tablescape items
  • Spray paint pumpkins, gourds, pinecones, and branches gold for a gilded display
  • Mix and match candle sizes and holders. It’s perfectly acceptable to use candles that are melted-it adds a touch of rustic charm.
  • Fill patinaed silver pitchers with wheat
  • Buy or create a large pumpkin filled with flowers, grasses, branches, or succulents as a centerpiece
  • Create your own cornucopia with a large, low wicker basket filled with fruits and vegetables
  • Embrace “out of the box” themes and color palettes
  • If you’ll have a kid’s table, be sure to create a child-friendly (and fun) tablescape for them

The final piece of your Thanksgiving tablescape is, of course, the place settings and glassware. Place settings should complement your overall theme. White dishware is classic and lends itself beautifully to most any aesthetic. Mix and match dinnerware patterns, intersperse antique place settings, or add a touch of elegance with striking chargers. Stacking plates saves space and creates a layered, dimensional effect. Colorful or patterned glassware, attractive napkins, and lovely serving dishes complete the tablescape.

Before the big day, experiment with the layout, structure, and overall display to find what works and looks best. Take photos of each step so you can easily recreate the look the evening before or the morning of.

Creating an artistic Thanksgiving tablescape makes the day special, even for this year’s inevitably small Thanksgiving gathering.

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.