Expert Advice for a Warm & Welcoming Thanksgiving Table

By Wendy Rose Gould | November 8, 2021

Planning a picture-perfect Thanksgiving is no small feat, but the effort can be rewarding in so many ways. For starters, sitting down to a tasty meal — no matter what it is or how you prepared it — elicits great conversation across generations or friends, and a wow-worthy table can make the day feel even more special for all invited, and set the right tone for a day that’s all about thanks.  

Fortunately, an elaborate spread isn’t necessary to foster those warm-and-fuzzy feelings. But delicious food and attention to the décor details that matter most can help elevate a Thanksgiving, and make it one that’ll be remembered for years to come. As you prepare for your own celebration, we turned to Anastasia Casey, an interior design blogger and founder of The Identité Collective, for some expert advice.

Keep Your Spread Simple

“A Thanksgiving table should be as simple as possible, to make room for all the serving platters of food,” says Anastasia. “I’m all about easy, effortless style. Here I loosely tossed striped napkins across place settings and laid a piece of wheat on top in lieu of a napkin ring. You could also try a rumpled napkin. Bonus — there’s no need to iron them.”

As for individual table settings, when in doubt, keep things monochromatic and streamlined. For example, Anastasia suggests a creamy white plate and bowl with an earthy charger underneath to tie everything together and add texture to the table. You could also try shades of gray, blue, wine, or whatever you have on hand.

Add Place Cards for a Personal Touch

There’s something about finding a carefully written place card that makes a person feel especially welcomed to the table. It can also eliminate awkwardness or tension if you’re hosting a large gathering. We suggest leaning into the season as much as possible for your place cards. For example: leaves with golden scrawl, tiny gold or cream-dipped pumpkins, small wooden or marble rounds, tags attached to a small bouquet of wheat, or simply elegant paper place cards.

Get Creative With Your Centerpiece

A traditional bouquet of flowers (or even an old school cornucopia) always works, but don’t be afraid to get creative with your centerpiece this season.

“Instead of the traditional floral arrangement as a centerpiece, I like to cluster monochromatic serving pieces at different heights. Here I used a vintage wood pedestal and lifted up a white porcelain tureen that’s perfect for mashed potatoes, which is grouped with wooden bowls for an organic feel,” says Anastasia. “Also, I used a seagrass pitcher for water. It’s tall and narrow, easy to pass, and adds another level to the table setting.”

If that feels too modern to you (or you’re squeezing a big group into a small space) another option is to elevate your centerpiece — literally! Anastasia says to consider hanging your florals above, which draws the eye upward and leaves ample room on the table for your food dishes. 

“Here I paired dried grasses, pomegranates, fall leaves and eucalyptus for a muted harvest color palette. Using the dried grasses as an anchor, I used black floral tape to wrap around the stems to make two long, floral spears,” says Casey. “Then I laid them across the arms of my chandelier and secured with the same floral tape. The whole process took about 20 minutes and makes such an impact.”  

Prepare What You Can the Day Before

There’s no sense in stressing yourself out the day of the party by having too much on your figurative plate.

Anastasia recommends, “Remove the stress of prepping your table minutes before guests show up by having it all set up the day before. This gives you time to tweak and adjust without the time crunch. Leave Thanksgiving Day for cooking and enjoying the company of your guests.” 

Most of all, remember the spirit of the season by giving thanks for your food, your company and yes, your ability to host around a beautiful Thanksgiving table.   

Wendy Rose Gould

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