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  • Writer's pictureDominique Michelle Vidal

The Anatomy of the Thanksgiving Tablescape

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.

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, autumnal colors, and wood tones. 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 slip cover chairs 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 slipcover chairs, Lulu and Georgia Haddan Slipcover Dining Chair. 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.

The Circular Hand-Braided Jute Table Runner from Pottery Barn 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 this table runner to do what needs to get done.

This Mason Handwoven Cotton Fringe Table Runner 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 texture as much as you can.

The Marin 120" Almond Brown European Flax ®-Certified Linen from Crate and Barrel 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 Rustic Pumpkin Table Runner from Pottery Barn will give your tablescape a nostalgic feel. The pattern is a statement in itself and is a great choice if you're looking to achieve a simple or elegant theme. Layer as much as you want on this selection and you get bonus points if the decor has a autumnal colors, like anm assortment of squash. Their colors would create a contrast with the white base while still coordinating with the pumpkin colors.

3. Table Cloth

Shown above is the Mason Oversized Linen Tablecloth from Pottery Barn is a simple flax linen table cloth that 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 Eleanor Painted Palampore Organic Cotton Rectangular Tablecloth. Inspired by vintage wall hangings from the 18th century, this tablecloth features an array of bold florals and vibrant foliage on a warm, cream-colored background. This lively pattern creates an artful accent to your table, welcoming guests with its graceful design. Made from organic cotton, they last wash after wash. 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 dried hydrangea centerpiece. Bonus points if you grow these in your garden because right about now is when youre supposed to be clipping them as their season is ending. (via Craft Berry Bush)

For those seeking an economical yet creative approach to table decor, opting for a fruit bowl centerpiece can be a brilliant choice. Simply visit your local supermarket and select an array of vibrant, eye-catching fruits. The team at Blesser House demonstrated this concept beautifully with their choice of pears and Champagne grapes, though the possibilities are truly endless. This method offers a fresh and appealing way to enhance your table setting without incurring significant expenses.(via House Beautiful)

This rustic garden fall table is full of inspiration. The centerpiece includes locally sourced flowers, pears, and white porcelain candle holders. It is all set on a simple linen table cloth with a fringed edge. This could also be done on a larger scale for a larger table. (via Wildly Collective)

The centerpiece on this tablescape is a classic holiday decoration using orange pomanders, dried oranges, and pine clippings. It will absolutely add a fragrant element to your tablescape and can be re used for Christmas decor as well. ( via. Blesser House)

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)


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. 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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