Set the Perfect Thanksgiving Table
November 10, 2021

Set the Perfect Thanksgiving Table

After a less-than-traditional 2020, this year’s holiday season is shaping up to look a bit more normal. Friends and family will once again gather together as per usual to celebrate the holiday with a grand feast. At the center of it all is the Thanksgiving table. There’s no better time to bust out the fine china and crystal goblets (or paper plates if that’s more your style) and add a bit of autumn-themed décor to set the scene. But if a year of social isolation has left your hosting skills a bit rusty, no worries. There are plenty of tips online to help you set the perfect Thanksgiving table.

The Basics

Before we get into design ideas, let’s talk about the basics. As far as place settings go, the old adage still holds today: The silverware had a fight/The knife and the spoon were right/So the fork left. Silverware is placed in the order it’s used, from the outside in: On the right, the salad fork is on the outside and the dining fork nearest the plate. On the left, the knife is closest to the plate, with the blade turned in. The spoon is on the outside. Napkins can be placed under the forks or atop the plate (preferably with a cute, festive napkin ring!) All drinking vessels, including wine glasses and water glasses, are placed on the right (to avoid an awkward reach over the plate), and the bread plate and butter knife are on the left. Salad bowls and soup bowls should be placed on top of the plate. Today’s Creative Life has more detailed how-to’s when it comes to place settings.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s on to setting a Thanksgiving table that will impress your guests! Following are some tips.

Add a Pop of Color

Photo courtesy The Turquoise Home

Although earthy tones like browns, reds, oranges and yellows are the traditional colors for the Thanksgiving season, there’s no reason why you can’t go rogue. Adding an unexpected pop of color (similar to this turquoise tablescape at The Turquoise Home) will surprise and delight your guests, while setting a jovial vibe.


Mix & Match

Photo courtesy Rooms for Rent

You don’t have to stick with one design theme when setting your Thanksgiving table. Mixing different styles can create a one-of-a-kind-look. At Rooms for Rent, they mixed mercury glass with a rustic burlap table runner and sprigs of greenery for an unfussy, yet refined, look.


Go Green

Photo courtesy Lemon Thistle

True, the harvest season is usually associated with the end of verdant foliage, but it doesn’t have to be. Lemon Thistle played up the colors of nature in a tablescape featuring green pumpkins, squash, and sprigs of eucalyptus and other greenery. Pop in a few tealight candles and you have glowing, natural setting.


Keep it Simple

Photo courtesy The Merrythought

Sure, Thanksgiving is usually a day to go all out, but sometimes simple is best. This basic design from The Merrythought depends on natural elements like branches and fresh apples (not to mention mismatched wooden chairs) to set an organic, no-fuss scene. Gold-toned flatware and candlesticks up the glam just enough.


Make it Modern

Photo courtesy Homey Oh My

Thanksgiving traditions abound in most families, but why not shake things up a bit and bring your table into the 21st century with modern design? A sleek black-and-white color palette via Homey Oh My comprises gun metal utensils, black chairs and contemporary white candlesticks and dishware. It’s well balanced with springs of greenery.


Try a Neutral Palette

Photo courtesy Our Handcrafted Life

Neutral doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, a Thanksgiving table in shades drawn from nature, like off-white, beige and green, can create an upscale ambiance. Our Handcrafted Life did just that, using eucalyptus leaves, white pumpkins and golden pears.


Use Vintage Pieces

Photo courtesy A Blissful Nest

Decorating your Thanksgiving table with vintage pieces picked up at an antique store or thrift store is a great way to create an eclectic look on a budget. A Blissful Nest found amber glassware and a ceramic bird second-hand, and combined them with vintage silverware and rustic pumpkins for a whimsical, one-of-a-kind look.


Category Home Inspiration

Elizabeth Penney

Elizabeth Penney is a content writer for Lyon Real Estate and the Lyon Local blog. A Sacramento native with a marketing background, she shares her insider knowledge on restaurants, attractions and outdoor activities throughout the greater Sacramento area and beyond.