Are you hosting for Thanksgiving this year? We have the biggest table in the family, so we are hosting. It’s still a pretty intimate group of six.
I decided to set my table this year exclusively from Home Depot, Target and Trader Joe’s due to time and money constraints. I go to hese stores at least once a week and I know the prices are reasonable. Could I find cuter stuff? Probably, but I don’t have the time to spend looking this year.
There’s one decorating principle I think is more important than any other, and it’s really a life principle. Done is better than perfect. I definitely apply this to entertaining.
The real joy of entertaining is the time you spend with your guest. Guess what? They won’t even notice a lot of the details that you agonize over. So don’t go crazy and kill yourself coming up with the most perfect table ever. As long as your guests can see that you put some effort in, they will appreciate it. They can’t tell if you spent 10 minutes or 2 hours decorating the table.
five essential elements of a Thanksgiving table
When you entertain, you really only have a limited number of things your table must have. These are my five: dishes, flatware, glasses, linens and a center piece.
Choosing dishes for your thanksgiving table
I like to use white dishes, because food looks good on white plates. I might feel differently if I had lots of sets of dishes, but I don’t. I basically have every day white plates and special occasion white plates.
White doesn’t have to be boring. Just like with a neutral sofa, you can use the white dish as the foundation to build on.
For example, if you have a more fun salad plate or dessert plate, you can use that to punch up your table. I have some brown salad/dessert plates which have a very fall look, but you can use any color that goes with your decor.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click & make a purchase, I receive a commission! Thanks! Read my full disclosure policy.
- Green salad plates from IKEA only $1.99 each. These plates could work with any greenery and they would be nice in the fall or spring. For fall I would mix the green with eucalyptus leaves and lots of wood accents.
- 4 pack of orange plates from Target for $34. These plates would be great for Thanksgiving if you like to have orange on your table. Mix in some fall leaves and flowers and you are done.
- 4 pack of fall plates from Target. These plates each have a different pattern and would make a fun fall table.
Choosing Flatware for Your Thanksgiving Table
I found a set of silver plate at a flea market that I like to use for special occasions. Thrift stores and flea markets are great places to find special occasion flatware. Here are my favorite non-thrift store affordable flatware options.
- 20 piece black flatware from Ikea for $50. If you are feeding more than four guests you will need two sets because each 20 piece set serves 4 people.
- 20 piece Hammered copper flatware from Walmart for $68 serves 4 people.
- 24 piece wood and gold flatware from Amazon. This serve 6 people.
choose glasses for your thanksgiving table
Truth be told I only have jelly jar glasses, but I have real wine glasses that I inherited. If you are looking for real glasses for a steal, Ikea can’t be beat. You can get real glass glasses that you won’t worry about breaking for about $1 per glass.
- IKEA single Dyrgrip glass for $3.99 each. These also come in a version with a stem. These are the high priced glasses at Ikea. They have wine glasses that are $5 for 6 glasses.
- Harth and Hand glasses from Magnolia. There are two sizes. One is $5.99 and one is $3.99, but they are really so much cuter than just regular glass.
if you are looking for something unique, there is tons of glassware at every antique store. Some of it is too “goopy” for me, but you can find basic glasses there too.
choose linens for your Thanksgiving table
The linens I have for my table are just a drop cloth from Home Depot (because I’m getting ready to make curtains) and linen napkins from Target. I really like the feel of linen and I like to use a white or off-white color because it’s easier to get stains out with bleach or Oxyclean.
I love to use drop cloths for tables because you can get that drapey look that you get from having a lot of fabric, but they are so inexpensive that it doesn’t matter if you spill a bottle of red wine. I also like the rough unfinished casual feel that a drop cloth gives. It goes all the way to the floor and it requires no ironing.
- Heavy duty drop cloth from Home Depot for $24 measures 9 feet x 12 feet
- Linen napkins. These come in natural ivory and charcoal. I bought 12 of the cream so I have extras.
- Target’s Threshold Table cloth. This table cloth comes in many different sizes and it has the same feel as the drop cloth. Price ranges from $21-$28 depending on the size.
How do you make a centerpiece for thanksgiving?
This is where the real fun begins. You don’t have to use a traditional centerpiece, and I prefer not to. A large centerpiece can get in the way of conversation. I like to put a mix of three things on my Thanksgiving table: wood, greenery or flowers and candles.
I don’t like to put so much in the middle of the table that no one has room to put their glass down. You will see on my table that the decorations are small because Thanksgiving is about spending time with people. The centerpiece can be simple and still be beautiful.
This year I purchased Eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s for $3.99, Mums for $3.99 and Fall Dried Pods for $2.99. I bought one bunch of each and that was enough to get an assortment of green, color and wood to on my table. I also bought Trader Joe’s unscented pillar candles for $2.99 each.
My centerpiece consists of:
- A scattering of the eucalyptus and the fall pods in between each place settings.
- A small group of flowers on each plate tied with a ribbon.
- A small arrangement (very small) in the center of the table on top of a wood board. I put the flowers in a copper mug that I purchased at Target for $9.99. I stole it from my Fall Mantel.
- Pillar candles between each place setting.
I think a very simple centerpiece helps to make the dinner conversation flow more easily. I hate when I sit at a table and the centerpiece is so large that you have to look around it.
set your thanksgiving table
I like to set my table days in advance except for the fresh flowers. That way I can enjoy the table for more than just one day. It also saves time on the day of Thanksgiving because I know I already have all of the glasses, dishes and flatware ready to go.
On the day of Thanksgiving I set up the flowers first thing so I can enjoy looking at them all day. How do you like to set your Thanksgiving table?