Setting Our Thanksgiving Table

I absolutely love tablescapes! However, I’m not so good at all those formal dining rules: this fork here, this plate there. I’m just too impatient for that, and who wants to do extra dishes afterward? As a result, I aim to keep things relatively casual while still making it special for all the guests around our table.

Any Pinterest search will offer countless options for over-the-top, expensive tablescapes. Visually, I adore them and I happily stalk those who create them for their own tables. However, huge tablescapes present two challenges. First, space on your table is at a premium. I need my holiday table to remain functional as well as beautiful, and it’s not practical if the number of decorations impede the real reason for the meal: the food! Secondly, guests can’t interact with each other if they can’t see past a centerpiece that is too large. Finally, the more you buy, the more you must store year-round, and we definitely have limited seasonal storage space.

For that reason, our holiday tables are always on the practical side, but I’ll let you in on a secret: they can still be beautiful! Here are a couple tips I follow every single year to do just that.

Holiday dish sets

I’m a firm believer in special dish sets for the holidays. There is something sentimental and exciting about pulling out the same dishes reserved for a special meal. And don’t forget about chargers and place mats. They’re an underrated way to add color and interest underneath every place setting.

Printed menus and place cards

I love printed menus and place cards! Menus can be helpful in giving your guests a sneak peek of all the delicious options they can expect, including any dietary warnings and/or accommodations that need to be communicated. Place cards add a special personalized touch to your guests, and planning the seating chart can be useful to facilitate conversation and fun!

If you own your own printer, you can use design programs to create your own menus and place cards. If you’re unable to use major programs like the Adobe Suite, try online options like PicMonkey or Canva. You can also use online print shops like Tiny Prints or Minted to design your own. If you have the extra funds, you can order them to be hand lettered by an artist on sites like Etsy. One of my favorite Thanksgiving table elements are our names laser-cut out of wood.


Place mats, table runners, and cloth napkins add a special touch to every table setting. I like to keep various colors and designs to match the various holiday tablescapes I set every year. Cloth napkins at Cost Plus World Market are nice enough to add color to my table while being affordable enough not to cringe if it gets stained.


I especially love incorporating gentle candlelight on my winter holiday tables. Whether you prefer to use real candles or their battery-operated counterparts, candlelight can boost the cozy atmosphere on any table!

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