If you love the idea of beautiful but simple Thanksgiving table settings, but don’t know how to create the look, this article is for you! We’ll show you how to set your table for simple, elegant and casual gatherings. Learn how to effortlessly get the feel you are after with tips on proper table setting, decor, and more using items you already own.
What are the Rules for Setting a Table (and Do They Matter?)
Many of our proper table setting traditions actually go as far back as 17th and 18th century Europe. They were influenced by french and english aristocracy…ooh la la.
The rules for proper table setting actually keep us from bumping into one another. There is a reason and a purpose as to why drinks go on the right so that you can keep track of whose is whose. This is also helpful so that you don’t accidentally knock someone when you are both grabbing for drinks on the same side.
Make it Easier and Have your children help!
Not only is this a great tool to teach your children and something that many people do not know how to do. This is a fun time for your children to help out and get involved. Children can place utensils and napkins at the table and even help make place cards. Depending on the age you can teach your child how to decorate the table and set up a centerpiece.
As centerpieces go, make sure that everyone can still see each other and the decor doesn’t mess with the flow of conversation.
As I’ve shared before, you can decorate for the seasons just by owning or gathering a few key pieces.
- Candles- (Flameless candles are the best) use pillars, votives or candlesticks without the concern of fragrance bothering guests or items lighting on fire. That would surely add a disaster to your evening! If you would like to use real candles, I suggest using beeswax candles.
- Wood items
- Florals (I love to gather greenery and colorful blooms from outside)
- Books (You can easily change up a look just by using different colored books and it also helps to elevate the design.)
- Real elements (pumpkins, squash basically anything you can cook later or feed to the animals so as not to waste money.)
Basically when you are buying or thrifting items for your home, choose items in wood, white or glass because they can be used for all four seasons.
The dinner table is a special place full of laughter and memories. Remember that this is a place for slow conversation, a place to unwind, and a time for meaningful togetherness.
Go the Extra Mile
Alright, so I’ve shared the essential basics to effortlessly set a table for all four seasons. But if you want to go that extra mile, I suggest some fun pieces.
- Napkin Rings- Yes, you can just fold a napkin, but there is something extra fancy about a beautiful napkin ring. You can also usually find sets at thrift stores)
- Place Cards- These make people feel special. Extra special touches like this make people feel like they matter.
- Antiques- Adding a few antique elements to the table just adds something unexpected and it can be used as a conversation starter. I have a antique brass bird that I love to use for decorating.
- Games- Make the evening an experience and not just a meal by bringing in traditions or games. A cute idea is to make place cards with a spot on the back to write what you are thankful for. Or maybe the placecards can have cute conversation starters.
Basic and Fun Simple Thanksgiving Table Settings
When you want to have a pretty table setting but still keep things super simple, use paper plates and paper napkins. There are so many cute options for Thanksgiving and it makes cleanup a breeze. When you set the table, use the basic format of fork to the left and spoon and knife on the right. Have a water glass or cup on the right and leave plenty of room for fun. This is a great table setting for friendsgiving or if someone just wants to keep things super easy.
Keep the centerpiece simple by using pumpkins, squash and fall foliage right from your backyard. Add some fun place cards with a spot for guests to write in what they are thankful for. You can also add in a charger because this is Thanksgiving after all, and I think things should be a bit fancy.
Informal and Casual Simple Thanksgiving Table Settings
Use everyday dishes, real utensils, cloth napkins and water glasses. This keeps things simple but still makes it feel special. Skip the tablecloth so that you can keep this less formal and less work for you. Add a charger or placemat under the plates to give it a nicer appearance.
I love the look of a classic Thanksgiving centerpiece using food for family style dining. You can keep the Turkey and bigger dishes in the kitchen but bring the smaller sides to the table. Thanksgiving dishes have a wide array of colors from the rich burgundy in the cranberry sauce to the bright orange of the sweet potato casserole. This look is casual, simple and cost effective. I like to add a bit of greenery to make the space feel extra special. Since the table setting is kept minimal there is no concern about having too many items at the table. Plus everyone wants seconds of the sides and not really the turkey, or is that just me?
Formal and Elegant Simple Thanksgiving Table Settings
For those who love an elegant, formal and fancy table, holidays give you that excuse to bring out the fine dining. Thanksgiving is a significant and special time to really focus on the table setting and decor.So for this table setting, I bring out my best china! I actually got this whole set at the thrift shop and it was in perfect condition!
For this table setting I added dinner plates, salad plates, tea cups and saucers. You may even choose to include a small plate and butter knife on the top left for guests to use for their bread rolls.
For the utensils I brought out my favorite ones and made sure to include salad forks, and dessert spoons along with the regular knife, spoon and fork set. Now as far as drinking, you can add a water glass and a wine glass. Depending on your guests and how fancy you want to go, you may add different glasses for red or white wine.
This is the time when you can bring out all your table linens. From tablecloths, to cloth napkins and runners to placemats. This is your time to take it up a notch and bring out all the extra fancy.
Candles make everything seem more elegant, so I love to cover the table with flameless candles of all shapes and sizes. Since this is a formal event, gathering all your vintage candle holders is a way to upscale the decorating.
Again, I love to bring in floral arrangements or greenery and to bring in real elements. I decided to keep this formal table setting very neutral so I just used white pumpkins. Since you are adding so many dishes, it’s important to keep the centerpiece minimal.
Simple Thanksgiving Table Settings
Elegant but thrifty, casual but not cheap, fun but not cheesy. I hope you learned three new ways to decorate your table this Thanksgiving without spending a lot. Using mostly items you already own you can create a tablescape for any crowd. Making guests feel extra special does not need to take a lot of time and it does not need to cost a ton. When you set the table and put extra care and attention to the details you will make your guests feel special. When you think about each guests and put something special at the table for them, they will feel loved. By simply opening up your home and taking time to make each guest feel heard, seen and loved, you will be able to have a life giving gathering at your table.
Have a blessed time with your friends and family. Enjoy good food and even greater fellowship!
If you love the idea of decorating without buying more but also creating a home that feels like fall, then check out my post about decorating.