How to Create a Thanksgiving Table Setting – 6 Tips


Hosting Turkey Day this year? I’ll show you how to create a Thanksgiving Table Setting in 6 easy steps!

Hello! I’m Jess – an interior designer, blogger, and stay at home Mama. I’m thrilled to be on the Kenarry Creative Team this year! I would love for you to come check out my blog,, for more family-friendly home decor and organization ideas. Now November is right around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about  a Thanksgiving table setting!

6 Tips on how to create a Thanksgiving Table Setting

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Today I’m going to show you how to create a gorgeous Thanksgiving table setting…and you can take these tips and apply them to other holidays and gatherings too (maybe minus the pumpkins).

I’ll be perfectly honest here – I’ve never hosted Thanksgiving in my life. I’ve done lots of other holidays, but never Thanksgiving, because my family has a big awesome reunion over that weekend every year, and we each sign up for something and potluck it. Perfect.

I kind of like the idea of hosting… but only because I’ve always wanted to decorate the table. I love to cook too, but that sounds like a cooking-hosting-marathon-nightmare, and I suspect I would be pretty unpleasant to be around for a few days before – and maybe after too – yikes!

How to create a Thanksgiving table setting

But even if you’re not hosting Thanksgiving, you can make any dinner- even a really simple one- feel special by setting a beautiful table. Just follow these 6 tips.

1. Start with either a runner or tablecloth.

A runner is great if you’ve got a pretty tabletop to show off. If not, or you’re combining multiple tables to seat a crowd, go with a tablecloth.

A fully made thanksgiving table setting

2. Use a low centerpiece.

I’m loving this super-easy and versatile white pumpkin centerpiece (below). I use it as casual table decor all season. I show you exactly how to make it at  Choose something low so everyone can see each other. If you have to move the centerpiece once it’s time to eat, that sort of defeats the purpose, right?

A close up of white pumpkins in a box being used as a Thanksgiving table centerpiece

Thanksgiving is all about celebrating gratitude and abundance, and what better way to do that than to bring in things from nature? (Faux things from nature are okay too!)

Besides the centerpiece, you can add natural elements with your table runner or placemats, napkin rings, place card holders, etc.  Here are a few ideas: tree rounds, pine cones, twigs, leaves, pumpkins, gourds, herbs, cranberries, or moss. I also like to use woven pieces like the round placemats below. 

3. Utilize layers on your Thanksgiving table setting

The key to a beautiful and interesting table setting is layers. Come to think of it, it’s the key to a good outfit, a living room, even a bed! So next we’re going to play with colors, patterns, and textures to make things pop. 

Start with a round placemat or charger, then add a large dinner plate. Next maybe a slightly smaller salad plate. It might be fun to use two different plates if you’ve got them.

A round placemat with plates and a napkin on top

4. Make each place setting special.

Be sure to give each spot a personal touch. Here are some ideas:

  • Place cards. I made these super-simple herb bundle place card holders to tie in with the greenery from the centerpiece in the table setting below. See how to make them at
Hosting Turkey Day this year and need ideas on a simple, elegant tablescape? We'll show you how to create a Thanksgiving table setting in 6 easy steps! It's every thing you need to know, from centerpieces to place settings, for any type of decor whether it be rustic, traditional or modern. #thanksgiving #thanksgivingtable #kenarry
  • Cloth napkins. I love these inexpensive colored buffet napkin sets from World Market. They come in pretty much any color you could want. It’s my secret ambition to own a set in every color. Shhhh don’t tell Peter! He’ll be happier if he doesn’t know. You can also easily make your own cloth napkins.
  • Napkin rings. Check out some of these amazing ideas from Kenarry.
  • Something special on each plate.

5. Multiple glasses Make it Look fancy.

I like to use wine glasses or champagne flutes and water glasses. The more glass on the table, the fancier your dinner will feel. I love the way candlelight makes glassware sparkle!

A fully-made thanksgiving table

6. Light it up!

No fancy dinner is complete without candles. Load up your table with pillar candles, lanterns, tapers, tea lights, whatever you like. Flameless candles are a great option if you’ve got kiddos joining. Dim the overhead lights, and presto!

Candles on a Thanksgiving Table

Set the Table The Day BEfore

If at all possible, try and set the table the day before. Thanksgiving day can be a bit hectic with all the cooking and hosting! And you wouldn’t want to miss the Macy’s parade or the dog show. It will be a lot more fun that way- and everyone can oohh and ahhh over your table beforehand.

Hosting Turkey Day this year and need ideas on a simple, elegant tablescape? We'll show you how to create a Thanksgiving table setting in 6 easy steps! It's every thing you need to know, from centerpieces to place settings, for any type of decor whether it be rustic, traditional or modern. #thanksgiving #thanksgivingtable #kenarry

Best of luck! I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving! And try not to stress too much!

What’s Next? 

Make a Super-Easy Pumpkin Centerpiece!

Simple Place Card Holders with Fresh Herbs

photo of place setting with simple place card holder with fresh herbs

Cozy Up for Fall! Gorgeous Throws to Warm Up Your Living Room

You may also enjoy these Thanksgiving ideas on Kenarry:

Updated November 2019.

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  1. I love how you used teal with the orange and neutrals! It’s beautiful, lush, and welcoming! You have such great ideas and I’m so glad you joined in on the fun!

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