Aaaah, Thanksgiving. It’s one of the best times of the year. After all, what’s not to love? It’s a celebration dedicated entirely to gathering with family and friends, giving thanks, and sharing a beautiful meal together.
The Thanksgiving season also inspires us to embrace autumn décor, layering textures and vivid fall colours to create a cozy, homey atmosphere. And while the turkey, or ham, and/or sides like mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts will certainly be the main event, don’t forget to dress up your Thanksgiving table and impress your guests with a gorgeous centrepiece and setting.
Whether you chose to go rustic or sophisticated, traditional or modern, there are many creative ways to put together a visually spectacular spread, even before your guests have settled in their chairs.
Setting a table is a balancing act, and it can be easy to overdo it! Laying too elaborate a table will stifle conversation as guests struggle to speak around large impediments. Considering you’ve put so much thought and effort into the main course, ensure that your centrepiece is a lovely accent throughout dinner by keeping it low, simple, and natural.
The centrepiece can be always be the focal point for your table setting—and it’s often overlooked at Thanksgiving.
Fall foliage will help to create that harvest mood. Think vibrant oranges, brilliant purples, and rich reds, now available at local nurseries, and try using annuals and perennials including:
• ornamental kale
• corn husks
These elements give colourful charm and lend to an organic, bounty-inspired table. Seasonal fruits and vegetables invoke cornucopia sentiments and easily mix together with fall florals. Weave greenery into the mix in the form of flowering kale or bay leaf sprigs. Instead of using a vase for the flowers, consider hollowing out a pumpkin and placing your arrangement inside. If you prefer a rustic look, incorporate woodland charm using twigs and pinecones, and choose gourds with lumpy imperfections.
Include the whole family when decorating
Since the Thanksgiving weekend should be focused around spending time with family, ensure they’re represented at the table as well. Maybe it’s as simple as bringing some warmth and ambiance by using those vintage candle holders passed down from your great aunt. Add a personal touch with the “fancy” china you inherited from your grandmother. Don’t have enough settings? Mix and match old and new to create a stunning arrangement. Linens and stemware that have been passed down from family can add elegance and refinement to the table.
Thanks for a new generation
Don’t forget to get the kids involved! Engage little ones by sending them out to collect fall leaves, pinecones, and other items for the centrepiece and table decor. Keep them busy while you prepare the meal by having them write out simple place cards, or task them with folding napkins. Teach them a family recipe to make ahead of time and serve to guests. These personal touches and traditions add an element of intimacy to your table setting.
Tablecloth, placemat, or charger?
Setting a table properly means remembering a few basic rules. Since meals with family are usually fairly informal, don’t sweat the small stuff. If you’re having more than a few courses, look online for a quick table-setting tutorial.
Though placemats are always appropriate, the charger plate trend is starting to emerge and take their place, especially since you can also use them with a tablecloth. Traditionally used in fine dining, chargers now have a place at an informal table and add an element of textural layering and creativity.
Thanksgiving Life Hacks
• Set your table early—maybe even the night before. Add serving accessories as well as your dish settings so you can gauge the space and layout.
• Sometimes less is more. Keep centrepieces under 12” tall so people can speak freely without visual obstructions.
• Don’t forget to iron your linens for a more polished look.
• Ensure you have enough flatware and stemware for every seat and every course. You don’t want to have to wash cutlery between courses.
• Remember: most importantly, that Thanksgiving is about the people and memories you make around the table.
By Kristen Psihogios
Herridges Farm Fresh Market