How to decorate the Thanksgiving table stumps a lot of us. Let’s make this easier! Here you’ll find 15 beautiful and easy ways to decorate your table for Thanksgiving. The styles range from classic to contemporary and everything in between. One thing they share in common, these tablescapes are all easy to duplicate — just copy from the photos — and you’ll set a lovely and welcoming Thanksgiving table. And while so much of our 2020 Thanksgiving celebration might be different than in the past, the people around your table, in person or via Zoom, will dine in great company (yours!) and beautiful surroundings (your table!).
By: Maralee McKee, Etiquette School of America
Why Your Food Tastes “Better” If Your Table Is Pretty — Really!
According to Scientific American, sight is an important indicator of the way we determine the taste of food.
With due respect to Scientific American, I believe my precious, late mother-in-law understood the principle better. She had a quadruple portion of the gift of hospitality, plus a natural knack for entertaining, and a way about her that made strangers quickly feel welcomed.
She taught me that people first see our table, and then they taste our food. “They’ve pretty much made up their mind as to how delicious the meal is going to taste before they’ve had their first bite,” she said with a gleam in her eye one year early into my marriage.
“Treat all your guests like they’re your only guest, set a pretty table, and it doesn’t matter whether you burn the beans. Your guests will feel like it’s the best meal they’ve had in years!”
I’ve lived by that principle, always putting just about as much thought into how I’m going to decorate the table as to the menu I’m going to serve. As far as I can tell, that principle has served me and my guests well.
Making a table beautiful doesn’t mean you have to use fine china, $100 flowers, or sterling silver flatwear. Those things make for an impressive table, but a lovely and welcoming table doesn’t need any of them.
When you set your table with a few pretty items, a little creativity, and a lot of love, it will be the most beautiful table your guests have seen in a very long time! Here are 15 ideas to help jumpstart our creativity.
Fifteen Beautiful and Easy Ways to Decorate the Table for Thanksgiving
1. Let’s start with something fun the kids can make to help decorate the table! Here’s an easy and inexpensive Flower Pot Pilgrim Hat by Hip to Save. Everything you need to have these pilgrims land on your table can be found at a dollar store or craft store.
2. I love a beautiful candle display on my table, so this Fall Leaf Candle craft by That’s What Che Said is perfect. I like to use a larger plate or platter and add some small pumpkins and gourds at the base.
Grace note: Did you know that all the candles on display in your home should look like you’ve used them even if you haven’t? It’s true. So when setting out a new candle, light the wick, count slowly to three, and then blow out the candle. That’s just enough time to darken the end of the wick without allowing any of the wax to melt and drip.
3. I love using fresh flowers on my table. But they’re expensive. This genius idea from DIY Candy is the perfect way to stretch your flower budget by turning mini-pumpkins into vases. Put one at each place setting, and they become a lovely take-home gift for your guests to remember the day.
4. If you want to keep things simple but elegant, try this Cranberry Wheat Centerpiece by Mandi Being Crafty. This is simply a large glass container of your choice filled with bright, colored cranberries topped with a small bundle of wheat from your nearest craft store. You could also insert fresh flowers in place of the wheat. (You’ll find the directions under the first post on the Mandi Being Crafty blog.)
5. Once again, utilize adorable mini-pumpkins for these Glitter Top Pumpkin Place Cards. These were created by OH MY Creative and will put a smile on the face of each of your guests. In addition, you can place glitter on mini-ears of harvest corn. The glitter will reflect beautifully on a candle-lined table.
Grace Note: This year, whether you’re the host or the guest on Thanksgiving Day, here are The 7 Manners of Thanksgiving — You Don’t Want to Show Up Without Them!
6. Will you be lucky enough to have warm enough weather for an outdoor Thanksgiving? If so, why not celebrate the day with a beautiful table draped with your local, warm landscape items. This tablescape features magnolia branches and large candles in clear glass holders. It’s brought to us by Iron and Twine.
7. What makes something elegant is often the simplicity of it. Here, Julie Blanner brings us a five-minute elegant centerpiece that is easy to assemble and beautiful. Click over for her how-tos. Bliss!
8. Are you setting up a buffet table for Thanksgiving? Placing silver utensils in simple bell glass jars combines elegance with rustic, simple beauty. And it makes it easy for your guests to spot the utensil they need. You could tie a colorful ribbon or neutral raffia around the center of each jar to coordinate with colors from your china tablescape. This idea comes to us from Sweet Something Designs.
9. If you have a table for the children at your Thanksgiving feast, these No Carve Glitter Pumpkins will be perfect for your littlest dudes and divas at the table. The cute eyelashes and glitter pumpkin stem will have the children smiling! This was created by Ideas for Kids and is easy to create. If you want to make something special for the rough-and-tumble children at the table, put green glitter on the stem, and add funny eyes. With an adult to supervise, this is a great way to keep little ones busy while dinner is cooking. (When you click the link above, you’ll be taken to Pinterest. The photo you’ll see there is actually a 65-second video. Click the picture on Pinterest, and the video will begin to play. You’ll love seeing how easy and fast it is to make this adorable little pumpkin “come to life!”)
10. I enjoy adding flowers to my table because they look so fresh, come in beautiful colors, and provide a delightful smelling focal point. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on making a Fall Centerpiece that leaves us with little room for error. It was created by Petal Talk. After watching, you’ll be able to decide what flowers you want on your own Thanksgiving table. You’ll also find detailed photos on how to create several centerpiece wreaths and a how-to video. The centerpiece below features succulents. This is the “in” plant of the moment, making it perfect for this year’s Thanksgiving table.
11. Setting a table to display your own style is important. If you love rustic antiques, something like this vintage Thanksgiving table display by Sarah Joy Blog will send your inner Chip and Joanna Gaines swooning. The centerpiece design of baby’s-breath and daisies with white pumpkins in a rustic container is easy to duplicate. The addition of wheat wrapped and tied on each plate with a vintage handkerchief to use as a napkin (or to go home with each guest as a remembrance of the day) is a beautifully unique touch.
12. If you want a simple but fun Thanksgiving Tablescape, try this Kraft Paper Table Runner design by Dawn Nicole Designs. It allows you to stay on a budget and be creative. The pinecone decorations add a touch of fall to the table, and you can use candlesticks you have on hand to create different heights on your table. I like the use of small plain pumpkins and fall-colored paper flowers! Best of all, you don’t have to be good at calligraphy. She offers you a workaround! With this tablescape, the idea is to be creative and have fun.
13. We know the Thanksgiving holiday has been an old tradition, but every generation enjoys adding their twist to the day. Why not set a Modern Thanksgiving Table this year, complete with the use of fruit, spice, and candles. This design is by ANNABODE & CO. Your favorite farmer’s market or the produce section of your grocery store makes the perfect first place to stop for the ingredients that make up this modern centerpiece.
14. The idea for this bountiful apple Thanksgiving table comes from Juniper Home. They utilize The Autumn Apple Table for an outdoor party in the fall. However, it’s perfect for an indoor Thanksgiving table because the apples smell wonderful. Use red, yellow, and green apples to bring the colors of fall indoors! Click over to see the photo. Below, you’ll see the special cutter for easily turning apples, pears, and mini-pumpkins into instant votive cup holders or flower/bud vases. I use mine often from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, and my guests are always amazed! (Click the photo below to buy on Amazon.)
15. Who said everything for Thanksgiving had to be in fall hues? I believe that would be no one! Blue and white dishes have been around for centuries and are still as popular today as they were in the 1720’s. Here, Sand and Sisal bring a modern twist to this classic color scheme featuring blue and white china and table linens. I love how they incorporate mini-pumpkins using the tool from Amazon pictured above to make them into adorable planters for succulents.
Have fun decorating your Thanksgiving table, and enjoy an especially blessed Thanksgiving!
Hugs and blessings,