I’ll be honest, I haven’t done a lot of table settings worth blogging about in 2020. Since the pandemic hit, we’ve had very few gatherings at our house — and those that have happened have taken place outdoors, with kids jumping in the pool, or socially distanced around our backyard fire pit.
Which is why my excitement to set a welcoming Thanksgiving table full of twinkly candles, platters full of food, and (most importantly) my family gathered around it is at an all-time high this year.
Even though I gravitate towards a more casual, organic feel these days, I still love to make a table feel special. And let’s face it: we all need a reason to bring some festivity into our lives right now! I thought it would be fun to do a “practice round” by setting the table exactly as I’m planning to do it for our family Thanksgiving and share it with y’all here. The morning that we shot this was in the midst of an insane work week, and I didn’t have time to do much planning beforehand. I decided to see if I could create the entire design using items I already owned, plus grocery store finds and branches foraged from my yard. I have to admit I was surprised at how fresh these repurposed items felt when I experimented with them in a new way!
My hope in sharing this is that you’ll feel inspired to use what you have, infuse it with a little creativity, and take your cue from fall’s bounty. With nature – and your own unique style – as your guide, I have no doubt you’ll end up with a Thanksgiving table that’s all your own. Scroll on to see how my Thanksgiving table came together this year… and of course, I’m including links to shop just in case you want to treat yourself to one or two new pretties you see here.
Our Thanksgiving plans continue to evolve – all we know for sure is that it won’t be typical. Most of our family lives in Austin, so we usually gather both sides together at our house for a big family feast. My brother, Collin, his wife, Beth, and their sweet baby girl, June, are flying in from St. Louis – they alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas between the two sides of the family – and I’m praying that travel restrictions don’t get in the way of them coming. I need June’s cuddles for my Thanksgiving to be complete.
After a heart-to-heart with my in-laws, they’ve decided that they don’t feel comfortable joining this year — which I only mention as a reminder that it’s so important for everyone to draw their own boundaries and make the choice that’s best for them, regardless of external pressures. We’ll miss them so much around the table, but I also know that their safety and comfort is more important this year.
Although I’m planning to set the table regardless, based on the current covid situation (and the weather), we may end up spending most of the day outside, just to be on the safe side. Like I said, plans are evolving!
I love letting beautiful, seasonal food double as my table centerpiece.
I set out a simple cheese board with a few of my favorites: a wedge of really good parmesan, sliced figs, Italian olives, prosciutto, and a firm, ripe pear. And of course, around the holidays you can’t go wrong with a vibrant, beautiful pomegranate sliced open to reveal its ruby red jewels.
Instead of buying flowers, I went into the backyard and pruned a few branches from our olive tree, then laid them simply down the middle of the table.
As mentioned above, I didn’t purchase a single item for this table besides food from the grocery store. Which I actually had delivered, so I didn’t even leave my house in the making of this table, lol. Over the years, I’ve collected a handful of linen runners, tablecloths, and napkins that have a timeless feel; I get them out time and again, and they’re total chameleons, giving off a totally different look based on how I accessorize the rest of the table.
I am a DISHES GIRL – beautiful stoneware and pottery is one of my passions in life, and I admit that I have a hard time resisting impulse buys when I see a beautiful piece. I do try to stick within a neutral color palette, so that I can mix and match different pieces and continually come up with a fresh look using dishes I’ve had for ages. I also use a mix of more expensive handmade stoneware with affordable ceramics from big retailers. It’s a great way to make less-expensive pieces feel one-of-a-kind.
I had some bunches of dried wheat I’d picked up from Trader Joe’s a couple weeks ago, not knowing exactly what I was going to do with it. For each place setting, I got inspired to clip a few wheat sheaves and arrange simple inside each bowl with a couple of star anise that I scooped from the spice bins at the grocery store. In addition to their sculptural shape, I love the subtle spicy aroma they added to the table.
This exact runner is sold out, but I adore the linens from Madame de la Maison. Their tablecloths, runners, and napkins are truly investment pieces that you’ll keep and use forever. Ditto with the pieces from Gjusta Goods, who made these napkins and the small stoneware bowls that I’m just obsessed with. Fun fact: they call it the “granola bowl,” because it was designed for daily use at their sister restaurant, Gjusta, which happens to be one of my favorite places on the planet.
The big plates are my everyday stoneware workhorses from Heath Ceramics – they’re from the coupe line, in white. And the glassware is a mix of my great grandmother’s crystal with Anthropologie coupes that feel vintage.
Then a few fun Target finds, which always make me so happy: this extra long cheese board made the perfect centerpiece (and was a total steal.) The woven pumpkins are sold out – I got them last year and love how they bring an earthy vibe to holiday decor – but these are similar and very cute. Oh and I could never forget this matte black flatware. I’m constantly getting asked where I got these – they’re just the perfect black flatware – and people are always shocked to hear that they came from Target since they look way more expensive.
These Jenni Kayne candlesticks are kind of splurge-y, but worth it. They’re simple and sophisticated, and there’s just something about them… I incorporate them onto almost every table setting I design.
Did I forget anything? Let me know if there are any other elements you’re curious about from my Thanksgiving table, and I’ll do my best to link them.
Happy almost Thanksgiving, my friends! I’m feeling especially thankful this year, despite all the challenges. I’d love to hear how you’re feeling about the holiday this year — stressed? Excited? All of the above? Let’s make a pact to find every moment to enjoy the little moments of creativity, having a blast in the kitchen, and soaking up as much time as possible with the people we love.