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How to Decorate a Thanksgiving Table: Simple China and Natural Accents Create a Beautiful Fall Tabletop

Published by Geraldo Stecker

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With so much work going in to preparing a Thanksgiving feast, it is easy to let setting the table fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Make sure the table does not become a last-minute activity by deciding a few weeks early what dinnerware, linens and accessories to include in the place settings. For fall tables, stick with a neutral color palette, simple serving pieces and centerpieces inspired by nature.

Timeline for Setting a Thanksgiving Table

  • Two Weeks Before: Make decisions about china, linens and serving pieces. Also, choose centerpiece and place card options.
  • One Week Before: Wash dishes and iron linens. If making centerpieces or place cards, do it this week.
  • One Day Before: Set the table. It is one less thing to worry about on Thanksgiving Day!

Choosing the Right Table for Thanksgiving Dinner

If possible, use a bare-top wood table in dark tones as the starting point for modern Thanksgiving place settings. Rich color and wood texture contrasts well with clean-lined plates and neutral accents. If the table is not presentable, opt for a nubby linen cloth or burlap fabric to cover it up.

Modern Thanksgiving Place Settings

There is nothing formal about these fall-themed table settings. It is simply basic china paired with a few seasonal accents.

  • Start with white china, either plain or embellished with a decorative edge. Set out a dinner plate topped with a salad plate at each setting.
  • Bring in fall color with dessert plates and beverage glasses. Try antique amber glass or brown transferware. Both add just the right amount of color.
  • Use fresh produce as place card holders. Simply sit a small pear, apple or pumpkin in the center of each plate. Then, lean a place card against the fruit.

Stylish and Budget-Friendly Place Card Idea

Here is a simple way to give Thanksgiving style to plain-Jane place cards. Bonus: you can make them yourself to save money.

  • Buy premade cards or cut them yourself out of white cardstock paper.
  • Stamp a single leaf print on the left side of each card using a rubber stamp.
  • Handwrite the names of guests on the other side.

Modern Thanksgiving Centerpiece

The centerpiece for this Thanksgiving table needs to look as easy and seasonal as the place settings. This idea from Martha Stewart is simple, modern and ties in with the leaf motif on the place cards. Place glass cylinder vases down the center of the table. Fill each one with a variety of leaves from the yard. Done!

Thanksgiving table settings do not have to be fancy or fussy. These ideas for a modern fall tabletop are easy to replicate, incorporate elements of nature and leave plenty of time for cooking a delicious holiday meal.

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