Decorate Your Thanksgiving Table Like the Pros

The food may take center stage at Thanksgiving dinner, but the moment is so much more than a celebration of harvest. It harnesses memories, generates laughter and most importantly brings family together. This season, set the stage for a delightful holiday starting with Thanksgiving table décor. I phoned a pair of interior designers to get expert tips on customizing your place settings.

Related Content: Why Do We Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?

Color Palettes

“Keeping with the whole farm to table trend is the way to go,” said Andrea Correale, the founder and president of Elegant Affairs. Cover your Thanksgiving table with a natural color and/or textured fabric, staying with beige, gray or walnut tones. A jute-textured fabric fares beautifully—it resembles burlap but is a softer, thicker version. Buy or rent one at a local linen rental house or online at Table Wraps in Jericho or Finishing Touch Fine Linen in Hicksville. “If you want to really be rustic and natural, forget the linen and cover your dining table with brown butcher or Kraft paper. You can find rolls of it at your local hardware store. Simply spread it across the table end to end and fasten with a bit of hidden tape at the ends.”


Tablescape 2

image: elegant affairs

Charger plates, which are large, decorative base settings for which other dinnerware is placed on top, are a must for the holidays. Correale suggested using wood, rattan or brushed metal to keep with the rustic, natural look. “If you can find copper or metal mugs it would be great to place them at each place setting serving as a water glass,” said Correale. Pay tribute to the motifs of harvest season by tying the napkins together using raffia, a straw-like ribbon and inserting a sprig of dried wheat near the knot.


Keeping with the theme, Correale recommended going a bit more rustic by swapping formal silverware for something more natural. There are varieties online or at your local party rental shop that have wood or black slate-looking stems.

Place Setting

Tablescape 1

image: elegant affairs

Personalize each place setting at the Thanksgiving table. Interior designer Warren Sheets suggested tying a carefully written name card to each napkin ring. Craftier types can place a miniature pumpkin (white or orange) at each place setting and cut a slit into the top and slip in a name card. “For a quick decorating fix and to infuse more holiday flair, dress up your chairs with handsome slipcovers, or ask children to hand make personalized Thanksgiving cards and affix them to each chair with a double up ribbon tie,” Sheets said.


“The center of the table should also be natural with one large pumpkin in the middle, wicker baskets filled with natures fall fruits and vegetables like turnips and other root veggies,” said Correale. Use natural beeswax candles as well for a puritan-style look. Sheets recommended finding large-scale florals in either one or two strong fall colors and accenting them with large white mums to bring focus to your overall palette. Accompany these with large waxy maple leaf branches. “Simple sunflowers mixed with white and deep red mums make an outstanding focal piece,” Sheets said.