Your table will be as memorable as the menu when you mix patterns with confidence.

The Palette: Crisp and classic—a blue-and-white color scheme sets the tone for this table, which is layered with rich autumnal shades and textures. The monogrammed silver goblets and flatware give a timeless touch to the overall look.

The Linens: Accentuate an attractive wood surface with layers. Inspired by the palette, we made a runner using fabric from a crafts store. DIY TIP: Buy enough fabric so the runner will extend about 12 inches beyond both ends of your table.

The Setup Style: If your hosting philosophy is "the more, the merrier," your generous spirit will be grateful for the extra inches. A long table accommodates a crowd and can be dressed up with formal china, family heirlooms, and your best silver.

The Centerpiece: Setting a long table is a balancing act: The arrangement should run the length of the surface. For this twist on the traditional cornucopia, we chose a collection of fresh fall veggies, fruits, flowers, and foliage. 

Laurey W. Glenn

Hosting the big family Thanksgiving but don’t have enough china to go around? Are you afraid you may create a “bless your heart” moment if you mix and match patterns? Cast your worries aside, because mixing china patterns is totally acceptable and can achieve a stunning result. You have already decided who will bring the family’s favorite side dishes and which mouth-watering desserts will be on the sideboard this year. Now it is time to set the table. Simply follow these suggestions on mixing your place settings; your table will be so eye-catching that soon everyone will be blending china patterns at the family gatherings. 

Know What You Need

So… you are expecting 20 guests and you only have 8 place settings of your own china? Good - now you know where to start. Identify a source for more china - perhaps a sister, your mom, or a sweet neighbor has some place settings you can borrow.  You can even supplement with solid-colored, good quality, everyday pieces. Solid white pieces work wonders in unifying the varying patterns. Party supply rental stores are another option; you can rent all the place settings, flatware, and even glassware that you need, or just rent the extra pieces you are lacking.

Tie It Together With Color

When you know the china patterns you will be using, choose one or two colors that are either common or complimentary to the patterns. Does the warm bronze that runs through your Wedgewood ‘Florentine’ also show nicely in your Mother’s Spode 'Woodland'? Would a soft green complement them both? Choose solid-colored fabric napkins, placemats, or tablecloths in that color. You can also unify the patterns by using a solid-colored, inexpensive plate charger underneath each plate setting. Whether your china patterns tend to run formal or contemporary, these chargers will lend an air of elegance to your table. Keep these complimentary colors in mind when creating your tablescapes, as well. The various elements of the tablescape – whether a single floral arrangement or a row of votive candles and bud vases down the center of the table – can incorporate those unifying colors, helping to tie together the different china patterns.

WATCH: Gayden and Charlotte Holiday Etiquette

Time To Set The Table

If you are setting a number of smaller tables, your options are different than if you are setting one long, formal table. With smaller tables, you may be able to set an entire table in one pattern, and yet another table in another pattern. Regardless of the table size, if you are using solid pieces to supplement your china, use a solid dinner plate, along with a patterned salad bowl, then a solid coffee cup and saucer, etc., so that each place setting has a nice blend of both patterned and solid china. If using different patterned china, let the patterns dictate how you place them. If they are both busy patterns, keep them separate and let the unifying colors in the linens and centerpieces bring them all together. However, if one pattern has a very minimal design and you feel comfortable mixing the two, then go for it. Just keep an eye out for conflicting band colors or styles.