Setting the table for Thanksgiving can be overwhelming, especially when you are busy preparing for your feast. These tips will help you create an amazing Thanksgiving tablescape that will make your guests feel special.
I love this time of year because it is all about gratitude, family traditions, food, celebrating, and making memories, which happen to be my favorite things! Sitting around a beautiful table is the perfect place to spend time with friends and family, laugh, and enjoy being together. These 7 tips will help you to create the perfect tablescape for making memories with your family and friends.
1. Start Early
You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving or the day before to create your fabulous tablescape. If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you are going to have your hands full cleaning, grocery shopping, and prepping the food. Setting your table a week or so in advance will give you time to do all of the other things on your list. I usually get mine ready right after Halloween, but we all know I’m a little crazy when it comes to tablescapes!
2. Get Creative When Seating Everyone
One of my biggest worries when I first started hosting large dinners was having a place for everyone to sit. It’s always been important to me to try and have everyone together at a table or tables rather than have people scattered and sitting on couches with food in their laps. I have learned to get creative in order to make that happen. In one of our first houses, I moved the furniture out of my living room and put up several folding tables so everyone could be seated together. (Warning: Hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 20 plus people when your husband is deployed and you have a 4 and 2 year old can be a little stressful! But is a great memory 23 years later!)
About 10 years ago, when we were hosting a large Thanksgiving dinner in our current home, I wanted to seat everyone in the dining room but wasn’t sure how to make it work. My table barely fit 6 people and my dining room wasn’t big enough to add additional tables. I came up with an idea to put a large piece of MDF on my small dining room table.
My husband just loves when I come up with these incredible ideas, but I don’t think he was using the word incredible when he and my son went off to Home Depot to purchase the piece of MDF. And I’m pretty sure incredible idea were not the words I heard when they put the not so light piece of MDF on the table and I announced that now it was too big. (I guess I measured wrong…oops! No worries I just had them flip the dining room furniture with the formal living room furniture and all was perfect.)
I’m not saying you have go moving everything in your house around but as my mom always said, where there is a will there is a way!
As you can see from the paint, it makes a great DIY workspace! Be sure to put an old tablecloth or sheet under it so you do not scratch your table.
3. Shop Your House
Once you figure out your seating arrangement, it’s time to start scaping. Before you go out and spend money, shop your house for tablecloths, place mats, napkins, and things you can use for your centerpiece. I like to start with my tablecloth and/or place mats and then go from there. (I have to use a tablecloth to cover the beautiful piece of MDF that still lives on the table in what used to be the formal living room. See it was an incredible idea! Someday I will have my dream dining room with a giant farm table that will seat everyone and I won’t have to use a tablecloth…or a piece of MDF! I just need Chip and Joanna to come knock out a few walls!)
I used apothecary jars from my kitchen for the centerpiece along with a cool log my friend’s son made last year. I bought the leaf place mats at Pier 1 a few years ago. (I just checked and they have them this year too.) When I was putting them on the table, I realized I had 9. Who buys 9 place mats? I must have bought them on clearance and just purchased what they had left. (See #5 Mix and Match below.)
4. Think Outside of the Box
I like to think outside of the box for table runners, napkin rings, and other accessories when creating my tablescapes. It’s less expensive and so much more unique. For this table, I layered two different colors of burlap for the table runner and I used fall ribbon to tie around the napkins that I folded into pockets. (I will do a separate post with a tutorial on the napkin fold.) I cut the toothpicks on leaf cupcake toppers to make them smaller and inserted them into the ribbon. I also found a bag of pine cones in a fall decor box and stuck give thanks cupcake toppers in them. I purchased the burlap, ribbon, and cupcake toppers at Hobby Lobby a few years ago. (My local Hobby Lobby had all of these items in stock a few days ago.)
5. Mix and Match
Don’t be afraid to mix and match! You don’t need to have all of the same plates in order to set a beautiful table. Napkins, place mats and dishes can all be mixed and matched. I do it all of the time. If fact, when I realized in only had 9 leaf place mats I pulled out some old turkey place mats that I bought when my kids were little. (See #6)
It’s okay to mix seasonal items with your everyday items. I love shopping at Home Goods because they always have great seasonal salad plates for $3 or $4 each. I can never find more than 4 or 6, but I buy them anyway because I know I will be able to mix them in with what I already have. Hobby Lobby and Pier 1 are also great places to buy seasonal salad plates when they are on sale or on clearance.
6. Make it Fun for the Kids
One of the best parts of the holidays for me has always been creating traditions with my kids. When they were little they loved participating in the holiday prep and they were usually a huge help. For Thanksgiving, they always made the place cards and they each had one side dish that they were in charge of helping prepare. Now that they are grown, they prepare that same side dish and I do not have to help them!
Including crafts and special place settings makes it fun and memorable for both you and your kids. Hobby Lobby has a great assortment of Thanksgiving crafts. I picked up a package of adorable, easy to assemble little turkeys to add to this setting.
Last but not least, the key for setting the perfect atmosphere is the lighting. Using a dimmer to control the brightness and candles on your table will help make the room warm and inviting. I found LED string lights in the Thanksgiving section at Hobby Lobby that I added to the fall garland I already had. They are the perfect finishing touch!
I hope these tips will help you create an amazing Thanksgiving tablescape! It’s your turn. Please share your ideas and family traditions in the comments below.