How to Decorate Your Table for Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving place setting.

Part of the fun of any holiday season is the opportunity to decorate our homes. Fortunately, even though the basic methods remain the same, there are always opportunities to express a little something special in a completely new look.

Thanksgiving Napkins

Thanksgiving napkins can add a decorative touch to an already-elegant table. Shaped napkins can be used to decorate plates or even your centerpiece. Consider these factors before purchasing holiday napkins

Color Selection

Will you want to reuse the napkins for another holiday season? If you are planning on using the same napkins for other holiday or family dinners, purchase neutral colors that can easily blend with several holiday decorative schemes.

Pattern Selection

If your tablecloth is busy, select napkins that are simple in design or one color. If your tablecloth is simple and one color, select a livelier pattern toi spruce up your table presentation.

Fabric Selection

Do you want something you can reuse? Do you want something that is easy to clean? Do you want something that is less costly? If you answered yes to any of those questions, get cotton napkins or napkins made from cotton blends. If you want something a bit more elegant, and you aren’t concerned with price or ease of cleaning, opt for linen, instead.


Will you be crafting the napkins into turkeys, cornucopias, or pilgrim hats? If you are creating some kind of three-dimensional shape, select napkins that appear somewhat stiff, rather than delicate and lacy.

If you expect your guests to use their napkins, make sure that brand new ones are properly washed before placing them on the table. If you are using a starch on your napkins prior to creating your masterpieces, use it sparingly. Add-on items can create nice effects, as well. For example, you could create faces for your turkeys from colored paper.

Don't forget about napkin rings. The sheer variety of them guarantees you'll find a suitable set for your napkins.

Thanksgiving Placemats

Decorating the Thanksgiving table with colorful placemats can be creative and fun. Whether you select personalized placemats for family members, holiday-themed placemats that speak turkey, or neutral-colored placemats that can be used for multiple holidays, the choice is yours. Consider the following before making a purchase.


When selecting your Thanksgiving placemats, it is essential to consider whether you are looking for versatility, style, or functionality and shop accordingly.


Reusable placemats in basic colors such as white, off white, brown, and beige are versatile enough to be used throughout the year or over multiple holidays.


Personalized placemats introduce a nice touch of family life into the table setting. You can design your own in any number of ways, from sewing by hand or machine to designed some sort of wax paper craft. However you make it, a personalized placemat says something special to the person using it.


Durable placemats that can be used year after year are often made of cotton or a cotton-blend fabric, making them easy to clean.

Thanksgiving Tablecloths

The tablecloth is one of the most readily-apparent pieces of your entire table setting. Keep it simple and basic if you intend to do a lot of decorating with smaller items throughout the rest of the table, making sure to coordinate the colors of your tablecloth with those of your placemats and napkins.

Decide if you want to use this tablecloth for other holidays, as well, or make it exclusive to Thanksgiving. If you plan to use it more than once a year, select a versatile pattern or colors that will go well with other holiday or family dinners. If you want to use your tablecloth only for Thanksgiving, find a Thanksgiving-themed tablecloth that you will enjoy using from year to year.

If your tablecloth is a solid color, you can add some panache by placing a themed and colorful table runner down the center of your table. Table runners can easily be whipped up by anyone who is handy with a needle and thread, but even if that's not you, you can always go to the store and buy one.

Thanksgiving Place Cards

Thanksgiving dinner often involves large numbers of family members, friends, and neighbors. If you like to prearrange the seating accommodations, place cards are the easiest way to accomplish this without any fuss.

Store-bought place cards come in a variety of designs, styles, colors, and prices. Select the ones that go with your table-setting theme. Better yet, design and craft your own using colored paper, stamps, markers, or whatever you like.

Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Thanksgiving centerpieces can be simple or complex. It's a question of personal preference. You can use something you already have, something store-bought, or a combination of the two.

Perhaps one of the easiest and most often-used centerpieces is the candle arrangement. If you typically use this as a centerpiece, try something new and different this year. Arrange your candles in a new pattern. Perhaps a row of candles that get progressively larger as the approach the center of the table and then taper off again on their way to its opposite end? Try alternating the candles in a variety of fall colors.

Several pairs of candlesticks in the center of the table in varying sizes can make an attractive arrangement. Again, vary the colors to coordinate with your tablecloth, placemats, or napkins. For a little added holiday theme, place several foil-wrapped chocolate turkeys, ceramic-pilgrim salt and pepper shakers, or small cornucopias among the candlesticks.

Bright, colorful plants in decorative flowerpots also make attractive centerpieces. If your plant already has enough color to it, it will make an excellent centerpiece on its own. If it is almost entirely green, consider a few small gourds carefully placed near its base for an added touch of fall.

A firm pumpkin, or even a ceramic one, can be combined with greenery and fresh fruit for an attractive display as a centerpiece. Consider piling up an attractive display of fresh fruit, a small pumpkin, greenery, or even small decorative dessert items on a pedestal cake plate for a real eye catcher.

Another very colorful idea that allows you to reuse some of the items from season to season is a medley of beaded fruit pieces. Simply purchase a colorful set of beaded fruits that will blend with your tablecloth. The fruits add a sparkly touch of color.