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  • Writer's pictureDominique Michelle Vidal

The Anatomy of the Thanksgiving Tablescape

Setting by Home and Hallow

Thanksgiving day might just be my favorite holiday of the year. Honestly, I think it's the ambiance. Exchanges of delightful conversations with my favorite people, eating amazing home cooked dishes set at beautiful table, and sipping on a fine wine next to the fireplace. Setting the ambiance for your loved ones may present itself as a challenge year after year. Especially for this year, considering things might be a little different and more intimate than previous years.

According to Pinterest’s 2020 holiday report, 7 in 10 people say they’re swapping the big holiday shindig for a smaller gathering this year. It’s totally okay to skip the "feast" and opt for a more intimate thanksgiving with immediate family. If you’re looking for inspiration or tips, read on!

There are a plethora of themes to choose from when decorating a tablescape for thanksgiving. Rather than having to choose decor from an endless list of pinterest themes like rustic/refined, classic elegance, coastal, or farmhouse, I will make it easy for you and and break down the anatomy of the thanksgiving tablescape into bite sized pieces. So no worries if you're just throwing a casual family dinner or elegant holiday soireé, I've got you covered.

In general, I will say that the best holiday decor is the kind that matches your existing color scheme. So, work with what you've got! The easiest colors to work with are white, black, navy (The Pantone color for 2020 is classic blue), wood tones, and other neutrals. Pick something to base your color scheme off of, like a runner or a centerpiece you like, and run with it!


If your dining chairs aren't upholstered, I'd suggest acquiring a seat cushion or chair cover for optimal comfort. It is also a lovely way to dress up your dining set even more than it already is. Here is one of my favorite chair covers, Parsons Chair Slipcover - Ballard Essential from Ballard Designs for $50. This can go with any look you're aiming for; elegant, rustic, modern, etc.

2. Table RUNNER

If you prefer going easy on the table decor or just have one too many dishes on the table to make room for faux pumpkins, I suggest making your runner the focal point. Here are a couple of table runners I would use for my thanksgiving tablescape.

This Lanai 90" Table Runner from Crate and Barrel is $79.95 is one of those runners thats not only perfect for every season, but it goes with basically anything you put on it. It's really one of those staple pieces in a home that does it all. Casual to fancy, summer to fall, you can count on the Lanai table runner to do what needs to get done.

This Bark Textured Jacquard Runner from West Elm is $39.50 is a gorgeous selection that you don't want to layer too much on top of. Let this runner breath and if you do place decor on it, make sure its light! I would put a real wheat centerpiece in the middle with a couple of white candles and thats it! Show off the pattern as much as you can.

This Bonita Clay 90" Fringe Runner from Crate and Barrel is $39.95 is the perfect touch of pumpkin color to pull together your festive look. The simplicity allows for the quality and warm color to be in the spotlight. I'm imaging it now, the layering of the pumpkins and fall leaves will be a thanksgiving tablescape to remember for years to come.

This lattice table runner from Perigold is $55. The texture and gold is a statement in itself and is a great choice if you're looking to achieve a modern or elegant theme. Layer as much as you want on this selection and you get bonus points if the decor has a natural theme, like fall leaves. Their colors would create a contrast with the gold finish while still coordinating with the natural materiality.

3. Table Cloth

Shown above is the Mason Oversized Linen Tablecloth from Pottery Barn is $126.50. A simple white linen table cloth always pairs well with a table runner, especially the ones listed above. Crafted of linen for a beautiful drape, it's available in goes-with-everything hues and detailed with a wide hem that wows in both modern and traditional settings.

The elegant selection you see above is the Monique Lhuillier Sienna Cotton/Linen Napkins & Tablecloth 9-Piece Set from Pottery Barn for $217. Designed by renowned bridal and fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, this exclusive collection blends her sophisticated style and love of celebration. The verdant design on this set of table linens is reflective of Edwardian-era needlework, reimagined here with golden embroidery on a machine-washable cotton/linen blend. No table runner is required for such an elegant statement piece.


Here we are at the quintessential point of the thanksgiving tablescape anatomy. The centerpiece is quite literally what everything is centered around and should evoke your theme/color scheme. The centerpiece can be many things and it is very personal. In an ideal world, I would create an algorithm for you on how to layout your table perfectly, but I'd much rather just show you some inspiration pictures and give you a list of objects that could be DIY'ed into a centerpiece. I suggest using any array of ornamental squash, flowers (dried is preferred), sticks, logs, wheats, berries, and candles. Don't forget to have a variance of scale. That is essential!

Here are some of my favorite pictures I found around the web.

Wispy branches (which you might even find in your yard!), oranges, and anemones makes for a dramatic and colorful centerpiece. Surrounded by black candles, this tablescape is edgy yet whimsical. (vie House Beautiful)

Here is a classic. The white pumpkin vase centerpiece. I suggest purchasing a faux pumpkin on amazon, painting it white if you have to, going to your local crafts store, and selecting your favorite dried decor. Don't forget to go chop down a tree to make a wooden tray as shown below the pumpkin as well! (Joking. But respect if you actually do it). (via A Pumpkin and a Princess)

This country harvest tablescape features a centerpiece of wheat set in white vases, harvested on the bloggers property. Additional details includes a lace table runner, white plates, crochet edge napkins, vintage elements, silverware and velvet pumpkins (Soft Surroundings has these in green and eggplant). Don’t forget to add some candles for ambiance! Maybe use LED candle lights as to avoid lighting your wheat centerpiece on fire. (via Love Grows Wild)

This rustic garden fall table is full of inspiration. The centerpiece includes faux white pumpkins, craft moss, terra-cotta pots and some fresh greenery. It is all set on a piece of beadboard, so it can be easily taken off after your guests arrive. This could also be done on a smaller scale for a more permanent installation. (via Liz Marie Blog)

The centerpiece on this tablescape is a vintage candle holder and it perfectly emphasizes the mixed metal theme!

This arrangement consists of hydrangeas and white pumpkins. Makes me wish we were going into Spring and not Winter. *sighs* (via Stone Gable Blog)

This is a personal favorite of mine because it emphasizes that gorgeous squash smack dab in the middle of the table. And all jokes aside, that dried bay leaf garland is just gorgeous. (via Rooms for Rent Blog)

Pile multi-colored gourds on your tabletop and use as a runner. It's easy, cheap, and festive. (via Sugar & Cloth).


White is a top choice for many chefs for framing their culinary creations because almost every color of food looks good on white. The colors of the food seem more vibrant and the food looks more appealing. It can be a perfect frame for any style of food.

That being said, white dinnerware can also be blase'. Utilizing different shapes and textures of white tableware can help enhance your presentation and engage new senses. Here are some of my favorite selections besides plain white flatware. (via G.E.T)

Reactive Glaze Stoneware Dinnerware - Bronze from West Elm for $42 - $50

Monique Lhuillier Melrose Gold Glass Salad Plates from Pottery Barn for $59

Swirl Melamine Dinner Plate - Orange From Pottery Barn for $6 each

Metallic Rim Coupe Porcelain Dinner Plates from Pottery Barn for $109


Finally, we have arrived to my favorite part of the Thanksgiving tablescape anatomy. The area that a host can really let their personal touch and creativity shine. *drumroll* The place cards! These are what greet your guests to their preselected seats and shows them the care and thought that went into the decor. Nothing says, "Come. Join us. Welcome!" like a place card designed with your name on it.

The essential part is of course putting your guests' names on said place cards. I'd suggest hiring an artist like Kristin Schmitt. She was a fellow classmate of mine at Drexel University and I can say firsthand that her craftsmanship and creativity is stellar. I have included some examples of her work from her instagram, @kristinskalligraphy. As you can see from the featured posts I included, she has a variety of styles and can work with a multitude of canvasses. Kristin will work with you to create a custom design tailored to your aesthetics and will make sure that all expectations are met.

If you are still seeking ideas for place cards, look through the gallery below for inspiration. I would use any one of these for place cars and they can all be DIY projects you can make your kids do!

I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving full of family, laughter, and food. Now go get DIYing before its too late and all of the pumpkins run out at the grocery store!

Don't forget to read my recent blog post with 10 Tips on How to Make Your Home Cozy and Fall Ready

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