9 Easy Steps to Set a Thanksgiving Table

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Do you need ideas for setting your Thanksgiving table? I have 9 easy steps to set a Thanksgiving table. Hopefully, they will help you.

It’s getting closer to turkey day. It will be so wonderful to gather around the table with family and friends.

When you set a pretty Thanksgiving table ~ or any table for that matter ~ the occasion seems more special.

Do you feel overwhelmed when planning a larger gathering? Whatever the size of your gathering, planning ahead for any event is crucial.

With a large group, a meal like Thanksgiving can seem overwhelming.You want to enjoy your party and your guests. Getting the table planned and set early is always a good idea.

I follow almost the same process for any special occasion tablescape. Here are the 9 steps to set a Thanksgiving table any hostess will appreciate.

SHARING THANKSGIVING TABLESCAPES

Today I’m joined in sharing our Thanksgiving tablescapes by twnety~two other bloggers who have a knack for this type of creativity. We are gathered by Rita of Panoply as our hostess.

If you are joining me from Shannon of Belle Bleu Interiors, then welcome. Shannon is a sweetheart with a lovely style.

Click on the box below to receive a checklist I made for you to help you with setting your tables.

STEP 1 ~ CHOSE YOUR LOCATION AND STYLE

Before you start to set your Thanksgiving table, decide the location and the style. This step guides everything you do, from your centerpiece to flowers to dishes.

TIP: Don’t hesitate to mix styles (casual and elegant, for example) because that can make a table setting more interesting.

MY LOCATION: For this Thanksgiving table, I want to again set my table outside. Since our backyard update, we have been using the backyard more for dining and relaxing.

Some of you who live in colder climates may think I’m crazy, but Thanksgiving in Dallas can be sunny, cool, and beautiful. Since the Thanksgiving meal would be served between 2 and 4 (depending on the Cowboy game), the day would be at its warmest.

You might have seen the outdoor Thanksgiving table for my friend Robin that I shared a few weeks ago.

MY STYLE: Casual with a bit of elegance was my theme. Texture would be my focus.

The day I styled this Thanksgiving table was perfect: sunny and cool in the morning to barely warm in the afternoon with no wind. It would be wonderful if Thanksgiving day were this beautiful.

Our teak table would be the setting. I pulled the table out from the fence so that four people could sit around the table. I also lowered the umbrella since I wanted as much sun as possible.

TIP: Regardless of the location of your table, pull your chairs away to give yourself plenty of space to work.

wood table

STEP 2 ~ GATHER YOUR “INGREDIENTS”

Before starting to set the table, I find it best to gather as many of the items you will need as possible. This will make the process of setting the table go faster and easier. Here is a list of items to gather:

  • tablecloth and/or placemats
  • containers for centerpiece
  • items for centerpiece
  • dishes for placesettings and serving
  • silverware and serving pieces
  • glassware (water, wine)
  • napkins and napkin rings
  • placecards (if using)
  • embellishments (decorations for the table)
  • salt and pepper containers

STEP 3 ~ TABLECLOTH AND /OR PLACEMATS

For our outdoor Thanksgiving table, I wanted to use my burlap tablecloth. The tablecloth set the casual and rustic style I wanted. Here is another burlap tablecloth.

You can tell from the picture that the tablecloth is quite long. I liked that it drapped to the grass.

Guess who was helping?

burlap tablecloth on wood table

For more texture and layering, I added my favorite round woven placemats. (I used these when I set Robin’s outdoor Thanksgiving table.) You can see the beginning of my “centerpiece”.

round woven placemats on table

STEP 4 ~ CENTERPIECE/TABLE DECORATIONS

Centerpieces can be anything you want, from a beautiful flower arrangement to a collection of items like candles, lanterns, vases, jars, or seasonal decorations.

The size and shape of your table will to some degree dictate the size and shape of your centerpiece.

Our table is narrow. I intended to use a rectangle wood tray with bead handles. It was obvious when I placed it on the table that it was too big.

I needed something that didn’t take up too much space. I searched through my fall decor stash and found two copper “sheaves of wheat”.

The metallic finish would contrast nicely with the matte texture of the tablecloth and placemats.

TIP: don’t hesitate to adjust your tablescape plan if necessary.

To fill out the center of the table, I used small real and faux pumpkins of various colors. The finishes were metallic, matte, painted, and ceramic. This also covered the stems of the metallic “wheat”.

This simple centerpiece only took a few minutes to assemble.

pumpkins on wood table

STEP 5 ~ ADD YOUR DISHES AND SERVING PIECES

Now is the time to add dishes for your individual plate settings. Your menu will determine what dishes you need: salad plates, dinner plates, bread and butter plates, dessert plates.

I bought the green Thanksgiving plates years ago at Tuesday Morning. Bringing them out every year is a tradtion. I also have a large platter and a serving dish.

In my vision for this outdoor Thanksgiving table, we would serve the meal buffet style from the island in our kitchen. Therefore, I didn’t need serving pieces for the table. I also decided not to use bread and butter plates.

I love this Thanksgiving set of dishes.

When dining outdoors, I think it’s best to keep the items on the table to a minimum.

green Thanksgiving dishes on table
green Thanksgiving dishes on table

STEP 6 ~ SILVERWARE

Here’s where you can bring in the elegance factor to a casual table setting. I love using our sterling silver in a casual setting. It always makes a meal special.

This pattern is Buttercup by Gorham and I love it. Fortunately, we inherited twelve place settings from Sweet Shark’s mother.

Just like with dishes, your menu will determine what silverware you need. I just put out the dinner fork and knife to make the table simple. At dessert time, I’ll bring out dessert forks.

TIP: Always have extra salad forks on hand. They can also be used for the dessert course and cocktail parties.

If you want to use silverware that is less expensive and good for outdoors, try this set of gold flatware.

green Thanksgiving dishes on table

STEP 7 ~ GLASSWARE

If we were having Thanksgiving dinner inside, I would have used water and wine glasses. Since we are outside, I just used one wine glass. Also normally, I would use some of our crystal glasses.

I recently bought some beautiful gold glasses online. I intended to use them for Thanksgiving, but I decided I didn’t want to take a chance with breakage. I’ll save them for Christmas.

Instead, for outdoors, I used Dollar Tree glasses with a leaf motif.

I have used these glasses so many times. When you don’t want to have a heart attack if a glass breaks, this is the way to go.

Here is a similar wine glass with a pretty leaf motif.

green Thanksgiving dishes on table

STEP 8 ~ NAPKINS AND NAPKIN RINGS

Napkins are not only for dabbing your mouth and wiping your hands. They also add color and/or pattern. You can add napkins to your place setting in many different ways, using different folds or placement. Having napkin rings is another option.

I decided to use napkin rings. First, I needed to make a cute napkin ring.

I bought the white felt balls last fall and I had been dying to make acorns with them.

Our neighborhood is full of live oak trees, so acorns are everywhere. On my walks with Nola, I took a baggie and gathered about two dozen large acorn caps. All I needed was a glue gun.

glue gun with white felt balls and acorn tops

With a little glue, it was easy to attach the acorn cap to the felt ball. I made about a dozen, just for fun.

gluing acorn tops to white felt balls

Aren’t they cute! These little acorns could be used in many ways for decorations.

white felt balls with acorn tops

Next, I needed to make the ring. I had two colors of wired twine. Which color to use?

two rolls of wired twine

For this Thanksgiving table, I’m using my fall plaid cotton napkins. Setting the twine on the plaid napkins, I decided to use the darker wired twine. This set of Thanksgiving napkins is really cute, too.

two rolls of wired twine and plaid napkin

I made two loops with the wired twine and cut them with wire clippers.

wire clippers and wired twine

Then I used the glue gun to attach the acorn to the twine. Finally, I rolled up the napkins and slipped them into the napkin rings.

TIP: You need to allow the wired twine to be loose enough to slip the napkins in and out.

four fall plaid napkins with acorn napkin rings

Now, add your napkins to your table.

plaid napkin with acorn napkin ring on green Thanksgiving plate

STEP 9 ~ EMBELLISHMENTS

Embellishments are those additional items that add a little interest, pop of color, whimsy, sparkle, or an ah~ha moment to your overall tablescape.

For this Thanksgiving table, I decided to add some more acorns to the table ~ just a few at two corners.

acorns on Thanksgiving table

After stepping back to get an overview of the table (another good idea that I recommend), I reallized one thing was missing.

Thanksgiving table centerpiece outside

Yes, the Thanksgiving table needed a turkey. We have so many in our collection. I chose this one for its size and the colors.

turkey and pumpkin centerpiece

After following these 9 steps to setting a Thanksgiving table, I was done. My casual, rustic table setting with a touch of elegance is done.

SHOP THIS THANKSGIVING TABLE

I hoped these 9 easy steps to set a Thanksgiving table ~ or any table will help you as you plan and set your table. After you PIN it, please visit the tablescapes that my friends have created. Sandra from Dinner at Eight is next on the list. The entire list is below.

Have fun visiting.

pin for later graphic in blue
signature with fall leaf

Debbee’s Buzz – Liberty Blue Thanksgiving Table with Turkey Napkins
My Hubbard Home – Thanksgiving Table With Brown and White Traditional Colors
Everyday Living – We Gather Together
Home is Where the Boat Is – The Softer Side of Thanksgiving
Panoply – Thankful
Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One – Home for the Thanksgiving Holiday 2021
Pandora’s Box – Leopards and Checks
Hyacinths for the Soul – A Place at the Table – A Harvest of Ideas
Celebrate and Decorate – Set a Heartwarming Thanksgiving Table with Neutral Colors and Natural Elements
My Thrift Store Addiction – Vintage Thanksgiving Breakfast Table
The Little Yellow Corner Store – Celebrating Thanksgiving a Little Differently
Me and My Captain – Football AND Thanksgiving
Life and Linda – Thanksgiving with Elegance
Sweet Sensations – Dining with the Gents for Thanksgiving
The Painted Apron – Pumpkins and Pickups
Corner of Plaid and Paisley – Thanksgiving 2021 – A Bit Boho
Living With Thanksgiving – Blessings at Thanksgiving
Belle Bleu Interiors – A Heart Full of Thanksgiving
Bluesky at Home – 9 Steps to Set a Thanksgiving Table
Dinner at Eight – A Seasonal Table for Thanksgiving
The Bookish Dilettante – We Gather Together
Zucchini Sisters – Vintage Thanksgiving Table Setting

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24 Comments

  1. Those fuzzy little acorns!!! I’ve never seen anything like that anywhere! How cute!!! And not much trouble to hot glue the caps to the acorn, which is a TOTAL plus in my book! So adorable!!!! Thank you for all the wonderful tips on setting a Thanksgiving table. There are so many who will no doubt benefit from your in-depth tutorial! We usually see the tablescapes in their finished state, but novices are left baffled as to how it arrived there. Well done! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours this Thanksgiving holiday!

  2. Very fun Carol! So smart to do the centerpiece on the diagonal! Love the aqua, orange and pops of pink, perfect for a poolside patio setting! Love love the cute acorns and Dollar store glasses. I hope the weather cooperates and you have a lovely Thanksgiving Day!

  3. Great job Carol…and I love your view of the pool in the background. I am glad to see your day will revolve around the Cowboys as I set a football table this year. We lived in Dallas for several years (Tom Landry, Roger Stauback, and Golden Richards days) and though we went to a few of their games, I still rooted for my KC Chiefs. LOL
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    Kari @ Me and my Captain

  4. What a beautifully set table for Thanksgiving! Love the fact you call it turkey day! 🙂
    Hope you have a fabulous time – roll on Christmas next! Sim x #HappyNowLinkUp

  5. Carol, your napkin rings are adorable!!! It must be nice to set a Thanksgiving table up outside. While we are having unusually warm weather here it is usually snowing by this time of the year!! I love the color combination of your plates with your plaid napkins. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!🧡

  6. Carol, breaking down a large holiday meal like Thanksgiving is really helpful. First time Thanksgiving hostesses will appreciate your wisdom.
    And gathering together pretty table inspiration like yours will make them feel like a super hostess!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you,
    RR

  7. Carol, lots of good suggestions and tips for setting a special occasion table — indoors or out! Those green plates are stunning and what a special find. Love your adorable and cleverly crafted napkin rings! What a great idea!

  8. I love the cute acorn tutorial (for the napkin rings). Your plates are the prettiest color, and I love how they look with the napkins. Super tutorial, and I really need to remember to move my chairs out of the way so I can work. I also like how creative your centerpiece is placed diagonally. I will definitely steal that idea! ;P

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Ricki Jill

  9. Carol, your list is full of ideas and helpful hints. The napkin rings are so cute. I love the green plates, they really add a pop of color. How wonderful to be able to eat outside. There have been many Thanksgivings that would be possible here. Wishing you a most lovely season of Thanksgiving!

  10. I absolutely LOVE the turquoise! And the acorn idea is so cute. The felt balls seem a little too round though, and a tad big. But if the felt balls are pliable, they probably can be made to better resemble real acorns in shape, and easily, too. You can even color them, if you wish, using tinted white glue. The glue itself would give them a smoother finish, if you’d like that. It wouldn’t take long, and it wouldn’t require anything fancy.
    Have fun and Happy Thanksgiving!
    — J. Neal

  11. Pinned to my Thanksgiving Board!
    I love your outside Thanksgiving table. Casual and colorful sounds fun in your lovely backyard. Our southern climate is usually mild.
    Your napkin rings were so creative! I love your Thanksgiving plates and checked napkins. Buttercup is my sterling pattern also and I never tire of it. I’ve loved it for 5o years!
    Nice blog hopping again with you, Carol! Have a memorable Thanksgiving Day!

  12. I seriously need to come over and have a crafting day with you! It’s no fun for me doing it alone. Love your table too. Especially how you angled the centerpiece! I would have never thought to do that but love that idea! And I’m totally jealous of those gorgeous plates. Pinned!

  13. Lovely table Carol. The little acorns are adorable. How nice to be able to sit outdoors. The green plates are so pretty. Your llist is very helpful for so many people. Wishing you a lovely Thanksgiving.

  14. Love the tutorial Carol and I always enjoy your Alfresco Tables. Those green plates are striking and the acorns can be used all the way through to the end of fall, maybe even Christmas. Your Amazon selections are very nice versatile. Enjoy the holiday and have a peaceful and relaxing day.

  15. Carol, my first choice is to alway dine alfresco , so your outdoor setting is most inviting to me. We are fortunate that the Texas autumns are perfect for dining outdoors. I like that breezy linen tablecloth and the centerpiece on the diagonal. Pretty details and textures.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. Carol, you have most certainly given us some great tips in setting a beautiful table. I love the idea of having Thanksgiving dinner outdoors. Your table looks so pretty, and I love your Thanksgiving plates. They look like antique majolica. I hope that you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

  17. Great table with a no-fail recipe in how to style it, Carol! Love the way you set your centerpiece on the diagonal, and those little acorns are a brilliant idea, so much more affordable than others. Our weather has remained mild and my sister-in-law who is hosting has a great outdoor area for dining, but seems to never take advantage it. Your using your backyard is very inviting. I love it.
    Carol, thank you for participating in this tablescape blog hop. Your talent is appreciated!

  18. Carol, your outdoor table setting is so pretty, and I adore your little felted acorns! Have a lovely Thanksgiving! Blessings, Cecilia @My Thrift Store Addiction

  19. Love those green turkey plates Carol, so unique and they add such wonderful color. Your diagonal centerpiece is so smart too. We love taking advantage of our milder weather and dining outdoors or on the porch on Thanksgiving, weather permitting. Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. This is a good walk-through of the process of setting any special occasion table. It’s always helpful to mentally tick through the steps. And the tips you scattered throughout are helpful too. The acorn napkin rings are cute. Have a beautiful fall weekend and a happy Thanksgiving!

  21. Carol, What a great guide, particularly for those setting a table for a first time hosting for Thanksgiving! I love that you caught your sweet puppy in the one photo! Wishing you and Sweet Shark a blessed Thanksgiving!

  22. Carol, I LOVE those green turkey plates with the acorn border! Speaking of acorns, your fuzzy DIY acorns are fabulous, too! I’m kicking myself for not purchasing those leaf glasses from DT when I had the chance. Thanks for all of the great table setting tips. I’m sorry it took me so long to comment. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!

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