Thanksgiving Table Decor

A Thanksgiving turkey with decorative mini-pumpkins in the foreground.

Gathering family and friends together around the dining table for Thanksgiving creates warm hearts and satisfied smiles. This year, give your Thanksgiving festivities a spark with an elegant tablescape that captures the essence of autumn's bounty. From candles to crystal, let Thanksgiving Day shine with autumn beauty.

Whether you opt for a trend-setting tablescape with a new twist on an old theme or go for a more traditional look, you'll still need to use your imagination. If you're not sure just how to bring your desired look to fruition, keep on reading for some ideas that will get your creative juices flowing.

Traditional Thanksgiving

The table laden with scrumptious fare is always the star of the Thanksgiving holiday. Garner the attention worthy of a well-appointed table by starting at the foundation: the tablecloth. Get out your most beautiful linen. It may be your great-grandmother's Irish lace or a damask tablecloth you purchased years ago. Wash it, iron it, and give it a crisp, fresh look.

If you don't have an elegant tablecloth and are venturing out to acquire one, make sure you choose a color that blends with your overall décor while also tieing in with the vibrant colors of fall. Deep reds and burgundies; rich, golden yellows; nut-brown earth tones; soft beiges; acorn squash greens; joyful oranges; and creamy whites work beautifully into an autumn scheme.

Never fear if your tablecloth doesn't come with napkins—just pick up napkins in complimentary colors to give the foundation a punch of color and individuality.

The turkey is king of the table, of course, but the centerpiece reigns as queen. A centerpiece need not be a circular design ordered from the florist. Fall offers so many botanical options to create stunning centerpieces for the Thanksgiving table.

Gather one small pie pumpkin, a Turk's turban, an assortment of gourds and mini pumpkins, preserved leaves from a craft store, a bag of mixed nuts in their shells, apples, and grapes in whatever color best suits your needs.

Place a crystal or glass tray in the center of the table. Place the pumpkin in the middle and begin heaping gourds, apples, and squash all around the pumpkin in a pleasing arrangement. Tuck the leaves into the little spaces between the fruits. Drape the grapes down over the piled botanicals.

For a more elegant look to the centerpiece, lightly spray gold paint over the pumpkin, gourds, Turk's turban, nuts, apples, and grapes a few days in advance. Use candle holders that will pull the color of the tray out, if possible. Cluster five glass or crystal candle holders, with candles of various heights, to one side of the centerpiece. Place a small grouping of fruits and leaves at each place setting.

If you’ve gilded the centerpiece, spray paint the entire circle gold; if not, leave it natural. Look for artificial—but realistic—grapes or berries that can be glued to the wreath to form a pleasing arrangement.

Create napkin rings from tiny grapevine circles or wreaths found at craft stores. Roll the napkin into a cylinder and slide the ring on.

The only thing left is setting the table to perfection. Make your crystal sparkle, polish the silver, and add the dishes for an elegant Thanksgiving dinner. Before guests arrive, light the candles and put on your favorite music. Then, once everyone has arrived, enjoy a day of good conversation and delicious food, keeping in mind the blessings of Thanksgiving dinner.

Tablescaped Thanksgiving

With tablescapes, you have to think outside the box without forgetting what Thanksgiving means to you. For example, perhaps you have fond memories of the special warmth of a relative's home who lived on a farm. You recall the chickens pecking at the cold ground as you helped carry in the pumpkin pies your mom made for the dinner. The smell of hay and straw stacked in the barn still lingers.

A tablescape could be developed around these memories. A beautiful example of a tablescape that you can use outright or take bits and pieces from to create your own follows:

Well in advance, purchase a lovely autumn fabric in a tapestry or solid color to make runners. You'll need enough fabric for four runners if you've invited six guests. One runner needs to span the length of your table plus a six-inch drop at each end. The other three runners must reach across the width of the table plus a six-inch drop on each side. All the runners should be at least 12 inches wide.

Lay the runners on the table by weaving the short runners under and over the long runner. The runners should give a woven look to the table with peeks of wood showing between the runners and at the corners.

In the very center of the table, place a sheaf of wheat. You'll need a large bundle of bearded wheat. Cut the stems to the appropriate length and then loosely tie them with raffia. Give the stems a twist to flare the bottom out.

Push the center up until you're satisfied with the rounded wheat heads. Arrange mini pumpkins, gourds, apples, grapes, nuts, rose hips, berries, cranberries, bundles of wheat, and preserved leaves in autumn colors heading in opposite directions down the table.

Carve out the center of seven or eight mini pumpkins and gourds, depending on how long your table is. For gourds that lie on their sides, carve a hole into the bulbous end of the gourd. Have a candle close by to use as a guide. Insert tapers of various heights into the openings of the mini pumpkins and gourds.

Place the candles randomly down the length of the table. Don't forget to leave room at each end of the center runner for place settings. Tie raffia around napkins, tucking in three stems of wheat each time. Set your table. This tablescape should have an elegant appeal without being too formal or stiff.

Using traditional objects that represent the harvest will provide warmth and familiarity to your Thanksgiving table. Lovely table décor invites guests to eat with pleasure, converse with abandon, and, as the holiday's name implies, give thanks.