Creating the Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape

Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family to gather around the table... This year you are hosting, but before your guests pull up their chairs, you may wonder what the heck to put in the middle of your table?? Staring at an empty dining table can be like staring at a blank page -- you don't even know where to start.

For inspiration you look up pictures of beautiful tablescapes, but how do you create the right one at home? And what even is a "tablescape" anyway?

In this post, we will help guide you in creating the perfect Thanksgiving tablescape for your space, by showing you how to avoid common mistakes and taking you through our favorite tablescape inspirations for different styles.

Don't let the word scare you. Really, a tablescape is just a fancy way of saying a collection of items/decor on your tabletop. Instead of a standalone centerpiece, its more of a gathering of items that all work together in creating a beautiful effect in the center of your table.

There are always some logistics in creating a beautiful, yet functional, tablescape, especially for such a prominent gathering such as Thanksgiving. These tips may seem obvious, you may be surprised at how easily it is to get carried away in creating your aesthetically pleasing tablescape and forget these simple rules that it should follow for functionality. 

1. It has to be unobtrusive enough to not be in the way when your guests are trying to eat, drink, and talk to one another.

In other words, it should not block people from one side of the table from comfortably talking to guests on the other side. This is best achieved by avoiding, or at least limiting, the use of taller items.

For example, with the photo below, the tablescape they've created is unquestionably elegant and beautiful, yet if you were to dine at that table, you might find yourself having to peer around pumpkins and tapers to try and have a decent conversation with the person sitting across from you. Some things that might look great in a magazine just won't turn out to be functional at home.

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2. It has to be small enough that you can fit all of your place settings on the table without overcrowding the surface area.

Your guest need room not only for their place setting, but room to move their drinks, napkins, etc. comfortably.

For example, in the photo below, they've done a great job at creating a festive table, but there's hardly any room left to actually dine without guests worrying of knocking something out of place, or feeling like they don't have room to sit the butter dish next to them. 


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3. It should coordinate well with your tableware (plates, napkins, etc.)

Remember that your place settings are part of the overall table display. You probably won't get the effect that you're going for if your style of tableware doesn't match with your tablescape theme. 

For instance in the picture below, they clearly went for a more rustic them. The effect was pretty cute, however the square modern plates kind of throw off their rustic/country vibe.

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Keeping these guidelines in mind, lets take a look at some ten of our favorite Thanksgiving tablescape ideas for inspiration this season.


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Such a great combination of modern and farmhouse! Love all of the mini pumpkins in nonconventional colors, and such a great contrast between the white scalloped and matte black plates. This more modern look is really softened by the rustic wood table, as do the natural linen napkins and sprigs of greenery.


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Definitely a fun and different look! If you have traditional china, going monochromatic like this could be a new and stylish way to showcase it. The white farmhouse table also does wonders in making it seem not quite so formal, while the natural eucalyptus leaves soften the look further.


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So many fun and bright colors! These colorful pumpkins create such a fun accent to both the plates and the rug underneath the table. A more refined look was achieved by grouping like colors of pumpkins together, rather than having them all intermixed. Also love the whimsical addition of the gold and white polka dot napkins.


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Love this unexpected blend of color and pattern. The gold silverware helps tie in with the gold rim of the plate. Normally I wouldn't go for a muted plaid table cloth with a brightly patterned plate on bright white, but in this case, it works. The plate is a nice contrast against the monochromatic table cloth, napkin, and leaves in the center.


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A very natural and bountiful look, which is very fitting to their rustic wood table. The magnolia leaves in the center add fullness while the fall flowers add some nice color to the otherwise unsaturated look. The scattered white candles help create that laid back ambiance. One tip to remember when using candles is to buy unscented -- when you light them, you don't want their fragrance to mix with the smells of your meal.


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Love this combination of dark red and blue! Again, not the typical Thanksgiving colors. The arrangement of dark red and burgundy flowers really makes a statement with the turquoise vase, table runner, and plates.


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The textured gold chargers help the black dishes stand out against the dark table, and the gold silverware matches perfectly. Since the place setting is so modern, the botanicals in the center were a welcome addition.


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This is a more bohemian and nontraditional look. Here they used more of a centerpiece as a focal point, but still making some other simple additions to the table. The centerpiece really speaks for itself, utilizing both traditional and nontraditional colors. I love that they used just white plates with this as not to overdo it. The few white scattered pumpkins add some more interest as do the gold pumpkins in the center of each place setting. The rustic brown runner and napkins keep the look soft and natural.


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This one is a more traditional look, helped along by the plaid, apples, and pinecones. Such a laid back and cozy autumn look, achieved by the scrunchy plaid runner atop rustic wood. The white pumpkins and white pillar candles add a sense of cohesiveness with the white dishes.


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Such a cute look for a farmhouse! The black chargers and white plates compliment the checked napkins perfectly atop the white farmhouse table. The few pops of orange stand out nicely among the black and white, and the pinecones in the center add a great both natural and textural element.

Take some of the tips that stood out to you from the photos above and use them to your advantage in your own home. Do you have some antique china that you never use and is begging for a night out of the cabinet? Refresh its look with matching monochromatic pumpkins! Or maybe your modern dishes look too cold with your modern dining table. Soften your look with some botanicals lain on the center of your table!

We hope this post was helpful in stirring up some ideas for your Thanksgiving table. And if you ever need some extra help, we always offer free decorating advice in store. Don't be shy -- we love to help!