The Thanksgiving Table

Tips and Advice

This year, I’m not cooking on Thanksgiving.  Seems rather strange to have so much free time!  Normally, I’m planning the menu, seating arrangements and getting alot of the prep work done for days (or weeks, according to my husband) ahead.  See, I love to cook.  And it isn’t just the cooking that I enjoy, I love to create a warm, welcoming holiday for my family and guests.  It’s all about the love.

That starts with setting the Thanksgiving table.  Many years ago when I was a new bride and hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, I asked a number of people for their tips on a successful Thanksgiving.  To show you how crazy I was (am), my first Thanksgiving dinner was a dinner for 24 people.  Oh, and in a small house.  Oh, and I decided to repaint and paper the bathroom 5 days before the big event.  Thank God I was really young then.  Anyway, one of the tips I received was to set the table the night before- which turns out to be very good advice.  You’re not scurrying around at the last minute trying to find the right tablecloth, centerpiece, candles, etc. when the last thing you need to be doing is scurrying.  Your guests have a relaxing time when the host is relaxed. 

I will usually start to get my presentation ideas ready a few days in advance.  I’ll figure out which table cloth, napkins, and candles to use, and then figure out what sort of centerpiece will work with that.  I used to get a pre-arranged centerpiece from a florist- which is nice, but expensive and also not as creative as doing it myself.  I’ve found some pictures online that you can use as a starting point, and have added some other ideas as well. 

Thanksgiving table centerpiece of white painted pumpkins and squash

White painted pumpkins and squash

I like this collection of white pumpkins (there are actually white pumpkins if you can find them) and white ceramic vases.  If you like a white on white kind of scheme, you could enhance it with some white roses or mums tucked in amongst the pumpkins.  You could also work with a colored and patterned tablecloth and add in some colorful flowers, nuts in the shell and a few other fruits, like pale apples or pears. 

I love the look of mixed and matched china patterns on the table.  I’ll usually take one of the dominant colors and use that color as the color for the tablecloth or napkins.  Don’t worry about everything matching, as long as you have some sort of unifying color, it’ll all work.  Find unusual things to use as vases, like a great water pitcher, teapot, or shallow bowl.  Use raffia ribbon to tie up your napkins and tuck a little flower in each one.  Here’s a great idea for place cards- using a pomegranate! 

Pomegranate Place card

Pomegranate place card

Pretty cool, huh?  The idea is to create a table that makes people feel that they’re cherished guests, and quite honestly a great looking table can sometimes make up for that turkey that didn’t turn out quite right.  All I can say is that for my first hosted Thanksgiving I was grateful for two things; being prepared with a pre-set table, and having my Mom nearby!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

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