Skip to main content

Holiday Hosting: Thanksgiving Place Settings and Tablescape Ideas

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If you’re hosting the holiday meal, now is the perfect time to start considering the items you’ll need to make your place settings as exciting as the cuisine being served. The perfect tablescape need not be complicated or expensive. We’re here to help you take your holiday table to the next level.

Bring nature indoors. Flowers on a dinner table are expected and often uninteresting. Skip the bouquets and go for small, unobtrusive potted plants. Think cacti, succulents and violets. If you absolutely have to do a flower, skip the paperwhites and use a low-scent blossom. Overly potent flowers mask the scent of the food and can ruin the dining experience. Make sure your arrangements are short, tidy and interesting. Skip the large flower displays. Give guests the chance to swoon over a more refined bundle.

Eat outside. There’s something novel about eating a major holiday meal outside. If you are lucky enough to live in a milder climate, take your meal into the great outdoors. Dining al fresco will feel like a special treat in the middle of November, and it’ll be a real change in scenery for all those watching football indoors that day. Use your outdoor (i.e., unbreakable) dishes to prevent potential messes.

Make your table wildly festive. Holidays are meant to be celebrations, so think party hats and table glitter. We recommend large glitter (it’s easier to sweep off a floor) and party hats that look as playful as they are meant to be. Noisemakers are also welcome—New Year’s Eve doesn’t have the exclusive. Pick table accessories that match the colors of your table design.

Go monochromatic. Let the drama of a single color elevate your table design. Pick one color and stick to it. Think white plates, white linens and place cards, even white tea candles. Food is the star of this holiday, and displaying it against a single-color palette won’t distract from the culinary delights. The monochromatic theme also works with autumnal tones like mustard, ruby and hunter green.

Mismatch with elegance. Go the opposite of monochromatic and bring a worldly scattering to your table. Neither plates nor serving dishes need match, but there should be a theme in pattern or tone. That said, silverware should be consistent—the look should be curated and chic, not messy and haphazard. Speaking of silverware …

Reconsider the volume of silverware. Unless you’re serving multiple courses (a fish course, a soup, a salad before the main meal), you don’t need an overabundance of silverware for each guest. Most people are fine with salad and dinner forks, a soup spoon and a knife. As a guest, don’t be intimidated by a holiday table with multiple forks, spoons and knives—get excited. That’s a great indication that your host has been cooking up a storm and there’s about to be a plethora of courses. Brush up on your table settings if fish forks scare you. (Just know, the oyster fork is the wild card.)

Don’t skimp on the glassware. Each guest needs at least two glasses—one for water and another for an alternative beverage. Add two wine glasses if you are serving a red and a white. This gives guests an opportunity to try everything being served.

Giant platters are no one’s friend. Unless your holiday meal is a buffet, passing food among fellow diners is nearly impossible when it’s served in large dishes. Only the turkey (or your main protein) should be on a giant platter, but this is for presentation only—relocate the sliced meat to an easily passed plate or a smaller serving dish. Thanksgiving is the eating Olympics, so if you’re hosting a large crowd, consider putting bowls of the same foods at both ends of the table. You won’t have to play the “how do I fit all of these platters on the table” game, and your diners can easily help themselves. Relaxed, well-fed guests are the goal. Oh, and gathering together as a community.

TIP: Keep your tableware looking good for years to come with these simple steps.

Maintain your dishes. Platters aren’t meant for storing food, so clear them off and clean them immediately after they’ve served their purpose. Skip the dishwasher and clean platters by hand. The same goes for fine china—gentle dish soap and tepid water with a soft sponge is often the best combination. Steer clear of the abrasive cleaning utensils, and be sure to dry the dishes immediately. Silver platters require special care, so head here for instructions.

Store and organize them accordingly. We encourage you to enjoy using your fancy tableware throughout the year, but avoid stacking plates or platters directly on top of each other when not in use. Use a padded felt sheet between each plate for protection. Fine china should be stored in a protective case as well. Keep silver platters in a protective bag when not in use.