26 Thanksgiving Table Ideas for a Festive Holiday Dinner

Harvest Apple Table Setting
Photo: Helen Norman; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller and Caroline M. Cunningham

Tired of the same old table decor every Thanksgiving? Mix it up with a few of our favorite ideas. Spark your creativity by remembering that your holiday table doesn't always have to be formal and traditional, and the color scheme isn't limited to harvest colors. It's your choice—make your Thanksgiving table setting look rustic, glam, vintage, or crisply elegant. You can even move the whole holiday dinner outside! With your Thanksgiving table setting plan squared away, you can move onto another important task: deciding what pies to serve.

01 of 26

Clean Slate Doesn't Mean Bland

White and Gold China on Teal and Rose Table Cloth for Thanksgiving
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Produced: Page Mullins

If your special occasion china is simple like the one here, that means you have an unlimited amount of choices when it comes to setting the table. We decided to go with bold teal and rose accent colors instead of the traditional autumn-themed accents.

Break Out the Jewel Tones

While there's no changing the formality of these two heirlooms—Haviland's Silver Anniversary fine china and Gorham's Strasbourg silver (both available from replacements.com)— you can infuse modern energy into the table with colorful linens. The bright block-printed tablecloth (made of Schuyler Samperton's Woodley in Poppy) pushes the palette toward teal, deep rose, and straw rather than browns and golds.

Balance Fine and Fun

The trick to keeping fancy tables from feeling fussy is compromise. The napkins may be starched, but we chose dusty blue from Sferra Fine Linens rather than pure white. Low, amber-colored water glasses from Hawkins New York counter the dressiness of bell-shaped goblets (Blanco Wine Glass; cb2.com). Perforated votive holders and the Sunday Shop's Rope Taper Candles in Terrain brass candlesticks create flickering light in an offbeat way. Mixing high tapers and low votives provides the optimal candle glow. Calligraphed place cards rest in rattan holders that could easily appear on a casual spring table.

Arrange Flowers a Little Messier

Start out with two similar—but not identical—vases to help create an effortless, pulled-straight-from-the-cabinet effect. Fill each of the vessels with a combination of white roses and dried hydrangeas to set a calm, neutral tone that won't compete with the vibrant patterned tablecloth. Then give a little extra texture to the two arrangements with a few scabiosas and berry clippings. Make sure the berries are long enough to drape loosely over the sides to achieve a more dramatic effect.

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Play with Color

Thanksgiving Table Setting with Turkey Plates
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Produced: Fran Keenan

Designer Fran Keenan used orange, blue, and citron in this formal table setting. These colors might seem out of place, but if you look closely you will see they are all represented in the Spode Woodland china. Gold and brass accents finish out this warm table. Don't have place card holders? Simply stick a card into the prongs of forks and everyone will find their assigned seat.

03 of 26

Going Green

Green and Earthy Thanksgiving Table
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

This all-natural table setting is the perfect complement to a family Thanksgiving. Go all in on texture with seagrass-clad glassware—here's a similar style from Serena and Lily—speckled stoneware plates, magnolia leaf accents, and a layered place card. Keep the arrangement simple with different shades of green.

04 of 26

Anything but Boring Brown

Brown Transferware Thanksgiving Tablesetting
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Produced: Page Mullins

Liven up the usual brown-and-white (or turkey-themed) plates by mixing in cool colors and warm woven textures.

Quiet Down the Gold Accents

Brown plus even more brown often results in a lackluster holiday table. Resist your natural inclination to pair these plates with deep yellow or mustard hues. Instead, take a spin toward the color wheel's cooler shades with purple linens, which will contrast with the earthy tones in patterns similar to this one (Wedgwood's Beatrice Brown; replacements.com). This lilac tablecloth (made of Carolina Irving's Andaluz fabric in Viola) reads as a neutral against the richer raspberry napkins.

Take a Seat

Clementines, a white paint pen, and a steady hand are all you need for these place "cards."

Sparkle Subtly

Transferware can feel right at home on a formal table if you pair it with fine silver (Gorham's classic Chantilly pattern; replacements.com), sturdy wineglasses (Bunny Williams Spiral Glassware; ballarddesigns.com), tinted waterglasses (TableArt Small Tumblers; tableartonline.com), and mercury glass votives. Don't be afraid to accent the Beatrice Brown plates' simplicity with Crate and Barrel's woven chargers and Colonial-inspired candleholders that are reimagined with a clean, matte white finish (Silo Taper Hurricane; farmhousepottery.com).

Give Pink a Chance

The key to this dramatic look is limiting yourself to one saturated color family. Rather than the typical Thanksgiving bouquet of seasonal mums, we picked a deep shade of pink. To replicate this display at home, you'll need a dozen large blossoms (such as peonies or garden roses) for volume, a dozen smaller blooms (like carnations) to fill in any holes, and a bunch or two of red-tinged foliage for added texture.

05 of 26

Simply Personal

Tasia Malakasis Thanksgiving Table Place Setting
Iain Bagwell; Styling: Tasia Malakasis

Layers of linens and gleaming silver accents like these chargers from Crate & Barrel keep this Thanksgiving table clean and elegant. Instead of written place cards, silver frames with photographs identify where guests are sitting.

06 of 26

Rustic Bounty

Fall Pumpkin Centerpiece
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Play up the natural beauty of a weathered wood table by keeping the place settings neutral and letting this colorful, free-form twist on the cornucopia take a starring role. See assembly details here.

07 of 26

Jewel Tone Magnolia

Joy Wilson Friendsgiving Thanksgiving Table
Alison Goote; Styling: Suzaonne Stirling

Magnolia leaves are all around at Christmas, but we think you should embrace them for Thanksgiving as well. Mixed with rich teals and deep purples, the green becomes autumnal. Lustrous flatware—see this set at Williams-Sonoma for a similar look—is the perfect addition to this modern table setting.

08 of 26

Coastal Ease

Blue and White Table Setting with Wax Seal Place Card
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

This blue and white Thanksgiving table can be embraced year-round. Rattan placemats (Tava Flat Round Placemat; potterybarn.com) create a base against bamboo plates (Classic Bamboo Plate; juliska.com) and blue and white china (Virginia Blue Dessert Plate; mottahedeh.com). Stick to the theme and go for bamboo flatware (Natural Bamboo Flatware; potterybarn.com) and napkin rings. Not everything on the table has to be blue and white though. Add a punch of color with orange to the napkins (Bel Air Napkins in Orange; mode-living.com) and other table accessories. A ginger jar filled with eucalyptus cuttings and a few blue and white pumpkins keep the table breezy and not too fussy.

09 of 26

Warm and Woodsy

Acorn and Fall Leaves Thanksgiving Table Setting
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Cut logs of varying heights are topped with moss and small flower arrangements and give this Thanksgiving table a rustic and woodsy vibe. Simple white plates and timeless flatware allow the bold pops of orange and mustard to take center stage. To see more of this table, click here.

10 of 26

Embrace the Frills

Pastel and Gold Thanksgiving Table Setting
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Produced; Page Mullins

Your pastel luncheon dishes can become unexpectedly seasonal when combined with traditional Thanksgiving elements.

Get Inspired by Fall

Surprise your dinner guests with an autumn tablescape that's anchored by a feminine floral pattern, such as this violet Regent by Adams China (available through replacements.com). Then take it up another notch with a tablecloth that features traditional mustard shades (I'On in Gold; palmettehome.com) and understated mauve napkins (Linen Table Napkins in Dusk; cultiver.com).

Mix in Metallic Touches

Vintage brass chargers and gold-toned mercury glass votives complement the warm shades of the table linens. The silver flatware's ornate filigree (Gorham's Melrose; replacements.com) coordinates seamlessly with the whimsical detailing on the plates. Scrolled, calligraphed place cards that are rimmed in gold resemble the flourishes on the china itself but are actually handmade and available to order on Etsy (picturaandpoesis.etsy.com).

Wow with Flowers

The eye-catching arrangement of wine- and ruby-toned ranunculus, dahlias, and artichokes makes a strong, vivid counterpoint to the gold tablecloth while pushing the pale lavender china pattern toward a darker, more conventional Thanksgiving palette. Break up the array of bold blooms by adding a few sprigs of slightly fuzzy dusty miller and letting them spill over the edges of the centerpiece. The simple metal cylindrical vase softens the large gap between the lighter-hued table settings and the round plume of vibrant blossoms.

11 of 26

Soothing Setting

Mix Modern and Traditional Thanksgiving Table
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Maria Cooke

Pops of teal compliment the neutral palette anchored by cotton and linen. A garland of twine with words of thanks winds along the runner and reminds everyone of the focus of the holiday.

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Kid Station

Kids Table Place Setting with Place Card
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

Everyone will want to sit at the kids' table with this bright, colorful theme. Cover the table with white paper and draw each child their own placemat with their name. An orange runner, pinecones, and wood elements add a playful touch to the center of the table. Include crayons at each setting for the kids to write (or draw) what they are thankful for this year.

13 of 26

Spread Out

Rectangular Thanksgiving Table Setting
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Blue and white truly go with everything, so don't be afraid to add autumnal shades and textures to your table. If you have a long rectangular table, create a sprawling centerpiece to fill the space. Fall veggies, fruits, flowers, and foliage are combined to create a twist on a cornucopia. Additional gourds and fruits are spread down the table, making the space feel full and complete.

14 of 26


Down-to-Earth Table Setting by Gena Knox
Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Fine china, weathered urns, silver cups, and moss do make a great combination. This Thanksgiving table brings some outdoorsy elements inside to create a back-to-nature vibe that is still elegant. Pumpkins set atop urns and moss add height to the table without needing a large flower arrangement. Smaller bouquets in mint julep cups bring in hints of reds and yellows to add to the predominant color of green.

15 of 26

Playful Pumpkins

Fall Table Setting with Pumpkins and Fall Leaves by Lindsey Ellis Beatty
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty

Mini pumpkins serve as place cards for this fall celebration. White linens and dishes allow the punches of orange to become the center focus. Large glass jugs are filled with branches from the yard and a pop of orange on the table runner completes this table.

16 of 26

Teal Soiree

teal tablescape
Robbie Caponetto; Styling by Buffy Hargett Miller

It's your turn to host, and you're ready to impress without passing into the realm of formal and stuffy. For the palette, try teal. Yes, teal for fall. Summer may stake a claim to the ocean hue, but strategic styling can make it an all-season star, says home goods store owner Emma Allen, founder of the online home goods site Hammett. She recommends pairing teal with darker tones and the right flowers. Finish off the look with a Southern statement piece. Every table needs a conversation starter, whether it's a set of plates with artisanal flair or your mama's butter dish.

17 of 26

Keep It Casual

Casual Turkey Plate Place Setting
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Produced: Fran Keenan

Designer Fran Keenan took the Southern china staple Woodland Turkey by Spode and set a table for the entire family. Formal china can easily go casual with natural elements like wooden-handled flatware and rattan chargers. Black-and-white striped napkins and matching runners laid across the width of the table under the place settings are additional modern touches that add to the casual feel of this Thanksgiving table.

18 of 26

Set the Mood

Oval Thanksgiving Table Setting
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

The bold elements of Forest Walk china by Juliska set the tone for the rest of the table. Shades of purple, red, and green build off the china pattern without taking away from the details. When setting an oval table, defining each place setting can be difficult. Chargers are used here because they don't take up too much space but clearly identify each setting.

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Family Sparkle

Tara Guérard Pink and Champagne Thanksgiving Table
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Tara Guerard

Just because you don't have turkey plates in your china cabinet doesn't mean you can't use your formal china on Thanksgiving. Event planner Tara Guérard used her china pattern as inspiration for this champagne and gold table with subtle touches of pink. Instead of using the tureens for serving, they were filled with spray-painted apples to create centerpieces. Flanked by thrift store candlesticks with pale pink tapers, this table feels formal without being fussy.

20 of 26

Elegant on the Front Porch

Poston Thanksgiving Farm Table
Peter Frank Edwards; Styling: Elly Poston Cooper

With the weather we have in the South, chances are you can enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner outside. This front porch setting leans rustic, but accents of pewter, seasonal china, and even tortoiseshell flatware elevate the table. Faux pumpkins make great vessels for fall arrangements to finish off this Thanksgiving table.

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Ginger Jars and Pomegranate

Ginger Jar and Pomegranate Thanksgiving Table by James Farmer
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Produced: James Farmer; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

These vintage turkey plates are a great starting point for a colorful Thanksgiving table. Picking up on the blues, ginger jars and blue and white china become a festive combination that you usually wouldn't think about for fall. Pomegranate and hypericum berries bring out the reds in the turkey plate. Scattered down the table and incorporated into the place card bundles, this pop of color keeps the table fun.

22 of 26

Refined Rustic

Blackberry Farm Fall Table Setting
Erica George Dines; Styling: Sam Beall

Burlap, pewter, and kraft paper are the elements that make up this rustic-meets-refined table setting. Arrangements in warm tones and multiple candlesticks add to the cozy vibe for a Thanksgiving dinner.

23 of 26

Eclectic Mix

Plaid and Antlers Thanksgiving Table by the Currens
Jody Horton; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas and Lauren Smith Ford

Mix-and-match flatware and china bring an ease to this Thanksgiving table. Deep, rich colors in the tea-towel napkins and small bouquets keep the table leaning towards warm, cozy fall. The antlers also help.

24 of 26

Small and Bold

Round Thanksgiving Table Setting
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

A small round table doesn't have to be boring for Thanksgiving. Skip the white linens and go all out with bright colors. Here mustard and teals make for a special setting for an intimate Thanksgiving dinner. For a round table, make sure your centerpiece is low so that conversation (and eye contact) can still be had between all the guests.

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Patterns on Patterns

Mixed pattern tablescape
Robbie Caponetto; Styling by Buffy Hargett Miller

Gather your crew for some casual yet elevated pregame noshing. Soft tones of red and green are a great starting point. Pair them with autumnal browns in the tortoise glasses and plaid tablecloth to take the look totally out of holiday territory. From there, it's all in the prints. Recreate old-school combinations that your grandma probably went for, like floral china with a checkered tablecloth. Don't be afraid to mix and match—it's much more fun this way.

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Harvest Feast

Harvest Apple Table Setting
Helen Norman; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller and Caroline M. Cunningham

Blues, whites, and reds come together effortlessly in this harvest setting. Various patterns of blue and white china are combined with a deep teal table runner and neutral napkins for the base layer of this table. Pewter and silver serving pieces are scattered down the table and filled with fresh apples and small arrangements of fall foliage and hydrangeas. One large jug is filled with branches of fall leaves and sprigs of bittersweet finish off the explosion of red.

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