No matter how beautiful your Thanksgiving table decorating ideas are, chances are they’ll take a back seat to the real star of any Thanksgiving table: the food.
Yet your cutlery is not only a functional must-have, it also plays a role in creating a festive ambiance for dinner and can emphasize the theme of your dinner party.
Whatever your approach to Thanksgiving decorating, these nine ideas will inspire you to set a table in style.
Thanksgiving Table Decoration Ideas
There are many ways to express your style through your Thanksgiving table decorating ideas. Mix and match china designs for a unique look, or add a patterned napkin and seasonal presentation plate to your everyday dinnerware for a simple yet uplifting scheme. Your glassware and cutlery also have a role to play.
But whatever route you take, it’s best to have a plan ahead of time.
“Choose a palette for your table: use complementary colors in your tableware, linens and accessories,” says Kathryn Duryea, founder of tableware brand Year & Day. (opens in a new tab). “Keep other items on the table such as glassware and flowers neutral so that the different colors or patterns are the feature of the table.”
1. Match green with white
For a nature-inspired combo, pair a green dinner plate or green charger with a white salad plate. A sage green is modern and pairs well with silver flatware and metallic decor, while a darker hunter green leans more traditional and looks great with gold flatware and burnt orange and rust tones.
2. Opt for a collected plan
If you don’t have a matching dinnerware set large enough to accommodate your crowd, don’t worry. The best Thanksgiving decor is personal, so your table settings don’t have to match to be refined and elegant. Instead, head to antique shops or flea markets for vintage pewter napkin rings and flatware in a chosen color palette.
The effect of mix and match pieces is so sophisticated, especially when the elements stick to an underlying theme or colorway.
3. Add a rustic presentation plate
Thanksgiving plate settings don’t have to be formal or fussy. Instead, add a few special touches to your everyday dinnerware.
“The simple white porcelain dinnerware adds a subtle elegance that allows the wonderful colors of the food itself to shine through,” says Andres Gomez, of dinnerware brand Malacasa. (opens in a new tab).
Above, a wood-toned serving plate adds a rustic, autumnal touch to a simple white plate. A small white pumpkin and a plaid napkin tied with a ribbon complete this easy look.
4. Create a vintage look
There’s no better time than Thanksgiving to break out in grandma’s china. Layer antique settings in varying patterns to create a quirky, quirky look, or showcase a single pattern by arranging a vintage plate on top of a solid-colored or metallic dinner plate.
“The layering of vintage accents helps bring a bit of gravity to the table,” says Duryea. “Vintage silver-plated pieces lend a touch of glamour, and embroidered linens or hand-painted porcelain serving platters bring touches of artisanal artistry.”
You don’t have grandma’s china? Check local antique or thrift stores, which are often full of vintage china designs. Estate sales and flea markets are also good sources for vintage dinnerware.
5. Stick to neutrals
All-white tableware is a timeless classic, so why not make it the star of the table? Play up white cutlery with Thanksgiving table decor that’s also neutral. This will make the white plates appear intentionally part of your table instead of the default selection.
6. Have fun at the children’s table
The children’s table is a blank slate for a fun Thanksgiving theme. For a bright, cheerful look that’s not fussy (read: less to spill), choose simple white crockery (or even paper plates) and cutlery. Then, cover the cutlery with a sheet cut out with the name of each child on it; also an easy Thanksgiving craft idea.
7. Opt for a flexible diet
A low contrast scheme of white dinnerware and pale wood accents sets a soft and inviting table. Fold tonal napkins in half and place one under each plate, then pair with brass cutlery to finish the look. Bring in a pop of color with a muted Thanksgiving centerpiece idea.
8. Colorblock with fall hues
For a clean and modern yet still fun look, color your cutlery with a palette of fall-inspired hues. The place settings above alternate between apple green and golden yellow placemats, colors that echo the decor of the table.
9. Go for a rustic and relaxed look
If your Thanksgiving party vibe is a bit more casual, swap out the china or porcelain plates for handmade ceramic options instead. Avoid fancy napkin rings and simply place cutlery directly on the plates along a single stem of greenery.
How to set a Thanksgiving table?
A Thanksgiving table should be set like any other table, but with a few extras to make it special.
Your place setting basics should include a standard plate, water glass, napkin, fork, knife, and spoon.
From there, you can add additional pieces to accommodate your menus, such as wine glasses, a salad or bread plate, a soup bowl, and additional silverware.
Once you’ve covered the functional elements of your canopy, add decorative details. Wrap utensils and a cloth napkin in a festive napkin ring, add a creative place card to the top of the plate(s), or place the plates on decorative platters or placemats.
Finally, incorporate a fun Thanksgiving centerpiece, such as a flower-filled pumpkin planter, a collection of vintage candlesticks, or a gourd-strewn table runner.
How do I decorate my Thanksgiving table on a budget?
Decorating a beautiful table does not mean spending a fortune.
To start, dress up everyday dinnerware by placing a presentation plate underneath. You can find them at big box stores for as little as a few dollars each. Then, wrap the utensils in a cloth napkin (another inexpensive purchase) and tie them with ribbon or string. Finally, create a simple Thanksgiving centerpiece with branching offshoots from your garden or a bowl filled with mini pumpkins, and light a few large taper candles in the center of your table.