Easy Place Setting Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Table

Little to no bushwhacking for foliage required.

By Katherine Fluor
friendsgiving table

Every year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I help my mom set the table. Doing it the day before not only brings out the ‘party time’ feels throughout the house, but also helps us to know what we still need in terms of glassware, flatware, and allows us to focus on tackling more important things (like mashed potatoes and pie) for our eating frenzie the following day.

No matter if this is your first or 40th year hosting Thanksgiving, working this into your ‘day before’ prep lineup will make a huge difference.

If you have a large, rowdy family like mine, it’s also smart to create preset place settings for each of your guests. It’s fun to get creative with themes, patterns, and textures while setting the table, and I’m always surprised how the simple details, such a a name card, end up tying the whole thing together. Give your table the moment it’s been waiting for this Thanksgiving with one of these easy place setting ideas. It’s easier than you may think to create a wow-worthy seasonal setup for your guests to enjoy and gather around. Remember: a little goes a long way.

image by Tieghan Gerard

simple and natural thanksgiving table decorphoto by kristen kilpatrick

Neutral and Natural

Having all neutral colored dishes and glasses create the perfect canvas for a simple, nature-inspired tablescape. Add an organic touch to the dinner table with a natural holiday table runner utilizing California Walnuts, pinecones and eucalyptus. Taper candles can add elegance and height variation, while still giving guests clear sight line for easy conversation.


natural thanksgiving holiday decorphoto by kristen kilpatrick

Top each cozy place setting with a linen napkin and an ornament placecard. The mini ornaments can be handmade using wooden beads and walnuts. Plus, they make the sweetest favor for your guests to take home at the end of the night. Post-party, they’re perfect for tying onto holiday packages and of course, hanging on the tree.

neutral holiday decorphoto by kristen kilpatrick

Frame your dinner table with a wall hanging made out of dried oranges, walnuts, cinnamon sticks, pinecones, and star anise. Not only will it make a gorgeous backdrop, but the scents from this piece of art set a warm tone for the evening.

Learn how to make your own wall hanging here!

Mix and Matched

Erin Hiemstra of Apartment34 paired mismatched plates (white and gray), napkins (gray and deep fuchsia), and glasses (green goblets and vintage coupes) that all came together seamlessly. “An eclectic Thanksgiving table let’s you get creative and play with color. It also means you don’t have to have a complete set of china. Leave the crystal in the cabinet and don’t cry over your incomplete set of glasses.

eclectic thanksgiving tabletopphoto by Aubrie Pick for apartment 34

I’m all about taking the mix-and-match approach for your holiday tabletop. I want to create a comfortable and carefree vibe that invites people to loosen their collars, roll up their sleeves and dig in! —Erin Hiemstra 

colorful boho thanksgiving table

photo by Aubrie Pick for apartment 34

Instead of a traditional centerpiece that often gets in the way once everyone is seated at the table, Erin recommends to opt for a fresh garland instead. She called on friend, Natasha Kolenko, to put together a garland made out of magnolia leaves, but really you can use whatever greenery your heart desires.

colorful greenery for tablescape

photo by Aubrie Pick for apartment 34

Outdoor Bohemian

Host your own family-style Thanksgiving dinner in the comfort of your backyard. With the crisp sunny weather we’ve been having lately in Austin, we’re taking major inspo from our backyard dinner party with Houston calligrapher Meg Grant. For a low outdoor table, Meg took wood table tops which were then placed on wooden crates. The tablescape was nothing short of what boho dreams are made of: an eclectic mix of fabrics, textures, vintage plates, assortment of glasses, and flowers for days!


outdoor boho thanksgiving tablephoto by ashleigh amoroso

thanksgiving fall floralsphoto by ashleigh amoroso

See more of our Bohemian Backyard Dinner Party here!


Simple and Sleek

Using warm whites and creams as the main players in your color pallet make the ultimate blank canvas, no matter the vibe, the time of year, or hour of the day. These colors melt in with their surroundings allowing the food, the company, and the decor to shine on their own.

white cream colored tablescapephoto by Cassidy Carson Photography

We love the way one of our favorite Tastemakers, McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped, uses small and simple details to elevate her white-on-white dinner setup. The dainty wine and cocktail glasses, beautiful asymmetrical white dishes, and all white serving pieces come together to create a timeless, elegant table that still somehow feels very modern and trendy.

white cream colored tablescapephoto by Cassidy Carson Photography

Read more of McKel Hill’s entertaining tips here! 

Cool and Earthy

Follow the incredible Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest’s lead this year and opt for cool tones and earthy touches. Her Friendsgiving with Anthropologie this year was beautiful, simple, and super warm and cozy. In typical Tieghan fashion, her seasonal recipes and vibrant tablescape worked harmoniously together to create the perfect golden look and feel.

blue tablescape for thanksgivingphoto by Tieghan Gerard

“When setting your table, don’t stress too much about making it perfect. I love the imperfect, perfect look. My best, budget tip for creating an elegant tablescape is to incorporate the food onto the table. My favorite thing to do is to use fresh produce around my table to add pops of color. I love a bouquet of flowers, but food can be equally beautiful, if not prettier. Surround the table with candles, use fresh herbs for greenery, and make the turkey the center piece of it all.” —Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest

friendsgiving tablescapephoto by Tieghan Gerard

friendsgiving table

See more of Tieghan’s cooking and entertaining tips for the holidays here!

Farm to Table

Looking to do a modern table this year, that still feels warm and cozy? Look no further than the farmer’s market-inspired fête Designer Jenni Kayne hosted with the Bash Please gals, Chalkboard Mag, and Pressed Juicery.

modern thanksgiving table photo by nicki sebastian

From the leather place cards to the gift basket party favors, every detail of this modern Santa Monica Friendsgiving dinner party was styled to perfection.

rustic and natural tablescapephoto by nicki sebastian

We love Jenni and the Bash Please girls’ idea to create a stunning set of place settings by using cutting boards as chargers.

photo by nicki sebastian

If you’re not one for big foral arrangements but still want a colorful and festive centerpiece, create a garland overflowing with fresh veggies and herbs to place down the middle of the table, as seen here by Kate Sapienza of FlowerWild.

See more of Jenni Kayne’s Farm to Table Inspired Thanksgiving here!