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Tips for Setting Your Thanksgiving Dinner Table

When entertaining guests for a holiday dinner, creating a beautiful and conversation-starting tablescape is important. As intimidating as it may seem to create those gorgeous centerpieces that you see on HGTV and in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine, it is not as daunting as you may think! We’re going to break it down for you so that setting your Thanksgiving dining table is not only doable, but is actually enjoyable!

Tablecloth or Table Runner? When deciding on whether you should start with a tablecloth or a table runner, you should begin by asking yourself this question: “What shape is my dining table?”. If you are working with a round table, you will want to stick with a tablecloth. With a rectangular table, you can opt for a table runner. If you like the look of more textures, you could even lay your runner on top of the tablecloth. When choosing your table linens, be sure to stick with the same color palette. A solid tablecloth can be used on a round or rectangle table. When wanting to incorporate a patterned cloth or runner, stick to the more simple patterns and try to avoid images. A patterned runner can stand on it’s own or can compliment a solid colored tablecloth.

Centerpiece(s) Typically, the same centerpiece can be used on both a round and rectangular table. The number of centerpieces and the way they are displayed on the table may be tweaked. Staggering heights add instant dimension to your table which will draw the eye to each focal point of the centerpiece. “Heaven, Sky, Earth” is the rule of thumb when choosing the items and their heights that you want to use in your centerpiece. “Heaven” will be the tallest item, your “Sky” item should stand in the middle, and the Earth item will be the shortest. Some items you can use are vases, candles, gourds, pumpkins, greenery, pampas grasses, and seasonal flowers such as mums.

Once you have gathered your three items, you can place them on the table. For a round table, right in the center of the table is where you will place the three items. For a rectangular table, you can set up two centerpieces; three if the table is longer. Again, Place them in the center of the table about 2 feet from the ends.

At this time, you can move on to individual place settings or you can continue to add 3” to 4” items (think tea lights, mini pumpkins, smaller gourds) scattered around the centerpieces. Choose a few different items to add even more dimensions.

Individual Place Settings Each place setting should include a dinner plate, proper flatware, appropriate glassware, a napkin and some sort of personal touch.

The plates should all be the same and should be a solid, neutral color. Be sure to use matching serveware as well to create a cohesive look for the entire experience. Your flatware can be placed traditionally, with forks on the left of the plate and knife and spoon on the right, on top of the napkin or right on top of the tablecloth. Another fun option for napkins is to display them on the center of the plate tied with some string or bunched together with a napkin ring or display the napkin in a creative way. Another option is to tie a piece of twine around the flatware and napkin, add a small piece of greenery, and place it in the center of the plate. The napkin should be cloth and correspond with the table linens. Finish up, by placing a water glass at the top right hand corner of the dinner plate. If serving wine with dinner, add either a red wine or white wine glass accordingly at the upper right hand edge of the water glass.

For a special touch, attach labels with your guest’s names on them to the flatware bunch on the plate or folded and placed above the dinner plate. You can write a little phrase such as “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Give Thanks” on the labels instead.

Once you have set the place at each seat, step back, take in the view and be proud of what you have created! Before guests arrive, remember to light any candles and get prepared to hear your guests rave about your new skill!

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