Our Best Table-Setting Tips
For a Bountiful Thanksgiving
Posted November 13th 2018 by Renae Kranz
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, you probably have a lot to do to get ready for your guests—cleaning, planning, grocery shopping, cooking. You want the food to be delicious and the house to be clean and welcoming.
What about the dining table?
The dining table often becomes a hurried last-minute flurry of action. Grab some plates, that paper turkey centerpiece, and let’s do this! Then you sit down and think, “I used all this same stuff on the table last year. I should have planned this better. It looks pretty sad.”
Need some new ideas for decorating your Thanksgiving table? We’ve got you covered. We’re going to give you a lot of ideas to wow your guests when they sit down to eat. And, you can tweak these tips to set a beautiful dining table for any event.
Every Dish has a Place
- Only set the table with dishes, glasses, and silverware you’ll use for the meal.
- Utensils are placed in the order they’ll be used. Put forks to the left of the plate, spoons and knives to the right (knife closest to the plate with the blade facing the plate).
- Serving soup or salad first? You can place the soup bowl or salad plate on top of the dinner plate. If you have room, the salad plate could be placed to the left of the forks. The soup spoon or salad fork would be placed on the outside of the other silverware on the appropriate side (spoon on the right, fork on the left).
- Place wine and water glasses on the top right just above the knife and spoons. Place the largest glass to the inside, moving out by size with remaining glasses.
- Place the bread plate to the top left of the dinner plate, above the forks. Place the butter knife diagonally across the plate with the handle pointed to the right. If you don’t have room, rollsmay be placed on the dinner plate with other food.
- The napkin can be placed on top of the dinner plate or to the left of the forks. If space is tight, place the napkin under the forks instead.
Florals Take Center Stage
Did you know Montgomery’s creates custom floral arrangements and centerpieces? From the floral room, our designers can create custom pieces based on your style, color palette, and table and room size.
You can choose the exact silk flowers you desire to create a signature look exclusive to your table. Or, you can let the designer take the lead. They’ll communicate ideas with you and work with your preferences until you have exactly what you want.
Pictured: Floral Studio in the Sioux Falls Showroom
Montgomery’s floral designer, Karli Strain, says they select shapes and textures based on your style, whether traditional or contemporary. Want something unusual? She suggests the pincushion flower for a unique twist.
How about something sunny and bright? Try sunflowers. They add a burst of color and a big smile to the dining table. The brightness of yellow sunflowers can be contrasted using deep purples and brilliant greens.
If you really want to buy into the Thanksgiving theme, use a pumpkin as your vase. Add some ears of corn and maybe even a pilgrim or two for a traditional Thanksgiving table centerpiece.
Maybe a centerpiece isn’t your style, but you still want to incorporate flowers and greenery. Try staggering candles of all sizes (keeping the color the same) down the center of your dining table.
Pictured Below: Floral Designer Karli Strain works on a Thanksgiving center piece.
Pictured: A contemporary floral arrangement by Karli Strain
Napkins Soften the Look
Folded or not, cloth napkins add color, pattern, and a soft surface when so much about the dining table is all hard surfaces.
You could choose one of a hundred methods to fold napkins. Since space is limited here, check out this site to find some unique folding techniques. (Ever folded a napkin to look like a neck tie? You’ll want to after checking out this site.)
Don’t want to spend time folding? Use napkin rings instead. You can find many options in a wide range of prices or make your own with easy to find items. Here are a few ideas you might want to try:
- Use raffia to tie leaves, flowers, or cinnamon sticks around each napkin.
- Tie a simple ribbon around a fancy napkin or a fancy ribbon around a simple napkin.
- Bake small cutout cookies in appropriate shapes for the holiday (leaves or turkeys for Thanksgiving), poke a hole through before baking, and attach with string or ribbon.
Guide your Guests with Place Cards
Place cards are not always necessary, especially if the group is only immediate family. But the point of place cards is to mix things up and make the most of your guests and their personalities.
Think about who might enjoy sitting together to ensure conversation flows. Avoid separating couples. And, for the love of all that is good, don’t seat two people together who don’t get along. Unless you like drama. Even then, think carefully before pulling at that thread.
If you don’t need place cards, you can still make use of the idea of them. For Thanksgiving dinner, you could use different leaf or animal shapes tied to each napkin with ribbon (think owls, fox, turkeys, deer, etc.). The possibilities are numerous. Make it fun or make it stylish.
Add some surprises
The Thanksgiving season is all about fall, harvest, and nature’s bounty. Texture, layers, and saturated colors are the hallmarks of the dining table. Make the most of those things by featuring them front and center.
Try adding fruits like persimmon, passion fruit, or pears and vegetables like artichokes to play on the color and texture theme. Mix in pinecones, mini pumpkins, and various gourds to capitalize on the bountiful look.
If your theme is on the casual side, tuck a few woodland animals into your display. It becomes like a game of “Where’s Waldo” with little faces peeking out of the foliage just waiting to be discovered. You could even include a nod to the Plains states with a pheasant perched on top.
Want something completely different? Fill glass vessels (vases, hurricanes, votives) with layers of various colored dry beans, nestling a pillar candle in the center. Put three of these in different heights in the middle of the table with mini pumpkins, fruits, or veggies gathered around the bases.
Here are more unexpected ways to spice up your Thanksgiving table:
- Galvanized buckets or other galvanized vessels add a whole new material to the mix (great for a more casual table).
- Feathers create softness and a light feeling.
- Use shocks of wheat tied with ribbon, lining them down the middle of the table.
- Wrap a few yards of scrim (use the natural color for Thanksgiving) around the back of your dining chairs and tie with a wide, colorful ribbon.
- Use canning jars filled with fall finds for a casual, homey feel if it fits your theme.
- Cake stands, alone or tiered, add a different vertical element. Use modern or traditional stands to complement your theme and pile them full.
- Mix and match dishes, layering chargers (large plates that sit under the dinner plate), plates from different sets, and adding colored glass goblets.
Now it's Time to Enjoy..
Your beautiful dining table is set and ready to go. The only thing left is to sit down with your guests, be thankful for everything you have and the great people in your life, and enjoy the view.
Do you have a great suggestion for decorating or setting your dining table? Share it in the comments below. We can all learn from each other.
Our next post will be all about secret decorating tips the Montgomery’s designers use to transform their homes for Christmas. You won’t want to miss it!