Thanksgiving Table Decoration Ideas

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If you plan to host Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to give one of the biggest meals of the year a beautiful setting to be displayed. Decorate your dining room table with the best fall and harvest décor, celebrating this warm and welcoming season.

Thanksgiving Table Linens

Whether your Thanksgiving dinner is a casual gathering for friends and family, or a formal affair, you'll need a variety of table linens for the big night. Let the colors of the season inspire you when selecting shades for tablecloths, placemats, napkins and more.

Tablecloth: Because this piece will cover the largest area of your table, decide in advance if you would prefer it to be bold (in color or pattern) with subtle napkins and placemats, or neutral, allowing for bolder choices in napkins and placemats. For a dramatic Thanksgiving tablecloth, try fiery orange, rust and golden yellow colors in solid or leaf patterns. For a more subtle approach, try beige, white or a soft, muted brown. If you decide to use a table runner, select a color that does not match the tablecloth. Subtle or stark contrast will provide depth and color to your table setting.

Napkins And Placemats: Select the color of your napkins and placemats based on how vibrant or neutral your tablecloth is. While the color contrast does not need to be great, it is recommended to select napkins and placemats that vary in color at least slightly. Some good color combinations for Thanksgiving table settings include:

  • Gold/yellow, orange, burnt red
  • Dark yellow, medium/dark green, orange
  • Brown, gold/yellow, rust orange

Ready for Planting

Lighting

It's important to create beautiful, soft lighting for Thanksgiving dinner, enhancing the already warm and comfortable feel of the holiday. Use one or several of these lighting suggestions for a perfectly lit holiday dinner.

  • Mason Jar Floating Candles: For easy, DIY lighting, tie several strands of straw or twine around the neck of an empty, lidless mason jar. Fill the jar with water up to one inch below the rim, then place a floating candle inside. Place one or several around the table for a shabby chic harvest display. Tie fall leaves or other Thanksgiving décor to the twine for an added seasonal touch.
  • Hurricane Acorns: Fill your regular hurricane candle candleholders with several inches of acorns for the perfect Thanksgiving addition. Make sure that the candle resting on top of the acorns is completely level and stable to ensure it does not tip over, or spill wax excessively.
  • Pumpkin Candles: Cut and scrape the insides of a small to medium sized pumpkin. Place a candle inside the pumpkin, sticking no more than one inch above the top, for a fun Thanksgiving candle cover. For taller candles inside smaller pumpkins, push fall leaves, twigs and berries into the space between the edge of the pumpkin and the candle.

Finished Product

Decorations

Thanksgiving décor is a fun way to add color and style to the dining table, and celebrate the season of food, family and friends.

  • Food: Using produce to decorate your dining table is an easy and attractive way to design a beautiful seasonal display. Fill large bowls with apples, squash, pumpkins and other small gourds for a quick, but stylish, dining table, buffet table or side table decoration.
  • Feathers: While feathers may seem out of place at a Thanksgiving table, their colors and natural style are a great addition to table settings. Visit a local craft store and pick out feathers resembling pheasants (brown and black with white spots or stripes). Place one feather on top of each guests' napkin, when folded on top of their plate. You can also slip feathers into napkin rings, or into Thanksgiving produce and floral displays.
  • Plants: Because Thanksgiving is typically centered around the food of the harvest and the changing of the season, adding natural décor to your table setting is a great way to celebrate the holiday and nod to its origins. Use branches, acorns, twigs, leaves and berries wherever possible. Fill vases with fall leaves at the base, then twigs and branches of berries. Wrap berry garlands around Thanksgiving centerpieces, and fill candleholders with leaves and acorns. Slip leaves into napkin rings, on top of plates, and even under drinks or candles for a pop of color.

Dinnerware

If you plan to use special dinnerware for your Thanksgiving dinner, again, keep in mind the colors surrounding your plates and glasses.

  • Use plates in soft colors on bold table linens, or bold plates on soft table linens.
  • White plates with small gold or red trim are also an appropriate choice for this holiday dinner.
  • Water and wine glasses should be clear, or brown, orange or red glass.
  • For elegant Thanksgiving dinners, gold utensils are a great choice and add color, shimmer and style to even the most subdued table settings.
Last Updated: November 12, 2012
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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