I love a set table at Thanksgiving, surrounded by friends and family. There’s definitely a time and a place for paper plates and a buffet, but for this occasion I like to heap food into serving bowls that are passed around family style. Here are a few tips for setting a fabulous Thanksgiving table.
Start with a roll of your favorite wrapping paper, in a fall print or a color that blends well with the dishes you are going to use for the meal. I like neutrals so I often use a simple striped brown paper. Roll the paper across the length of your table and tape it underneath.
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Over the paper, use a cloth runner, a piece of burlap fabric, or a running centerpiece of fronds, boughs, or greenery. I like to nestle tea lights, small pumpkins, gourds, or antlers in between the boughs along the length of the runner. You want the centerpiece layer to run the length of the table with room to set places on each end. Pro tip: avoid a tall centerpiece that will block guests’ view of each other.
Layer chargers on next, one for each guest. These are a must for extra elegance. You can buy beautiful inexpensive ones or you can use squares or rounds of felt, fabric, wood, or any material that adds another layer of texture to your table.
The dinner plates go on top of the charger, but then you’re going to need a salad plate for rolls or cranberry sauce, or whatever your guests need a little extra room for. I like a contrasting salad plate, for example, I’ll use a white dinner plate and a contrasting leopard print or wooden salad plate to add dimension.
When I was a kid, it was my job to fan the napkins when we had a dinner party. It’s not that hard, and looks so pretty! I like cloth, but you can do this with a large paper napkins if that’s your MO. If you’re short on time, a simple way to elevate your napkin game is to use a festive napkin ring, thread the napkin through, and place it on top of the plate stack.
Don’t stop at just one knife and fork – multiple silverware really makes the table look more formal. Add a spoon beside the knife, or a small and large fork. Maybe a butter knife and a steak knife? Whatever you have extras of in your inventory.
Set each place with a water glass and maybe a wine glass. If kids are at the table, consider letting them drink out of a fancy glass, even if they’re just having milk or water. We usually do sparkling grape juice in a coupe glass!
Lastly, add the place cards. You can purchase cards, or print them for free from online templates. Sometimes I even let the kids make them. Give some thought to who sits where because it really does help conversation flow during the meal. If you have kids at the table, set them between adults so they have some help with serving and passing.
Once all the layers are in place, step back and admire your festive table!