Five Pro Tips to Decorate Your Thanksgiving Table

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Sure, the turkey might be the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the rest of the scene. Upgrade your décor so that it matches the delicious dishes and wine pairings you spent so much time and effort on.

We talked to professional decorators, designers and entertainers on the items they recommend and tips for how to spruce up your Thanksgiving table this year.

Decorating Tip #1: Create Edible Decorations

Left: Olive Wood Cutting Board / Right: Home is Our Happy Place pumpkin from Homegoods
Left: Olive Wood Cutting Board; Right: Home is Our Happy Place pumpkin from Home Goods / Photos courtesy Home Goods.

Thanksgiving is one of those times when the food is the hero. So “why not make a completely edible table décor?” says Yaz Quiles, founder of Pop! By Yaz, an entertainment company.

Quiles suggests tying fresh herbs like rosemary onto your napkins. She also recommends arranging grapes and other fruit on surfaces or pedestals of varying heights to cascade onto the table.

Similarly, a centerpiece with wood boards and small dishes of charcuterie-style snacks such as shaved meats and cheeses, crackers, dips, spreads, olives and pickled veggies is always a favorite. Quiles recommends these charcuterie tools, cheese boards and tapas slate boards.

Entertaining expert Paul Zahn also incorporates actual fruits, like apples, on the table.

“These fruits can be used afterward for pumpkin parfaits or apple spice parfaits. This is budget-friendly and also resourceful,” he says.

Decorating Tip #2: Use Pumpkins Outside of the Pie

Yaz Quiles recommends incorporating pumpkins into your décor
Yaz Quiles recommends incorporating pumpkins into your décor / Photo courtesy of Amazon

Zahn goes for a mix of shabby and chic items to really bring his table to life and likes to include pumpkins, especially a gratitude pumpkin, for simple Thanksgiving table decorations.

“Starting November 1, everyone in your household simply takes a sharpie and writes down something they are grateful for on the pumpkin. During Thanksgiving dinner, you go around and read off the items,” says Zahn.

Quiles suggests having a calligrapher create touching messages of love on a collection of gratitude pumpkins. Or this can be a fun activity for the family to participate in—all while beautifying the space. She loves the Home is our Happy Place Pumpkin, metallic markers for calligraphy and faux white pumpkins for DIY projects.

Quiles also uses pumpkins as decorative containers for flowers.

“I recommend lining the inside of the pumpkin with a clear vase, just short of the opening, to hold the water and real flowers,” she says. You can also use floral foam inside the pumpkin to hold silk flowers.

Flower arranging skills lacking?

“Both local florists and national chains have them available during the season,” says Quiles. She likes these faux pumpkins, this faux pumpkin bouquet and this live floral pumpkin arrangement.

A floral arrangement
If you’re not confident in your floral skills, you can pick up an arrangement at Harry & David / Photo courtesy of Harry & David

Decorating Tip #3: Use Personal Place Cards

Place cards aren’t just for the likes of royalty and Downton Abbey. They are both functional and serve as a fun takeaway for guests.

Zahn suggests writing down the person’s name. And then, on the other side, write the recipe of the signature cocktail you’re featuring, like mulled wine for instance. Stick these in a mini pumpkin to really tie in the full Thanksgiving theme. Guests can take this home and recreate the drink. Stuck finding a recipe? Check out these 11 hot cocktails to get you started.

Decorating Tip #4: Play With Color

Paul Zahn recommends says gold pieces elevate any Thanksgiving Table
Paul Zahn says gold pieces elevate any Thanksgiving table / Photo courtesy of JC Penny

Don’t get stuck in the basic fall color palette of browns, ambers and reds.

Leah Ashley, a DIY expert, interior designer and former host of the ABC talk show Fablife, recommends incorporating pops of your favorite color onto the table.

“I love to add blue to our table by using vintage blue and white plates,” says Ashley. “But you could add colors like mauve, greens, golds and even pink.” She loves these plates from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Whether it’s candlesticks or even an ice bucket, gold accents instantly elevate any table, says Ashley. She is especially fond of gold flatware.

But pumpkins in any color or pattern is the ultimate traditional addition to any Thanksgiving table. These black and white gingham pumpkins are fun and classic, says Ashley.

Zahn goes for these golden pumpkins to bring his tablescape to life for daytime events and nighttime events.

“These are also a great addition to any mantle—the chic trio will elevate any fireplace and really shine with a twinkle of sheen at nighttime,” says Zahn.

Decorating Tip #5: Mix It Up With Vintage and ‘Non-Traditional’ Pieces

Velvet pumpkins
Vintage pieces are perfect for the Thanksgiving table. You can pick these up at Amazon / Photo courtesy of Amazon

“I think the key to a well-decorated Thanksgiving table is to include some vintage pieces into your design,” says Ashley.

Mixing in your favorite vintage pieces adds warmth, sentimentality and a bit of tradition into your holiday festivities. And they make for inexpensive Thanksgiving decorations.

“It could be your grandmother’s heirloom soup tureen, vintage plates, retro water glasses or antique candlesticks, just to name a few,” she says.

Day-After-Thanksgiving Farmhand’s Sandwich

Quiles goes bold by using traditional elements in unexpected ways.

“Think decoupage pumpkins, jewel-colored gourds in varying textures, or stark white leaves scattered on the table for a minimalist approach,” says Quiles. She suggests these velvet pumpkins, this decoupage starter kit bundle and these white maple leaves.

Now that you’ve gotten the table ready, don’t forget the staple: the turkey. We’ve got you covered with this white wine-brined turkey recipe.

Published on November 3, 2021
Topics: Handpicked