Home & Design

Setting the Thanksgiving Table

By Heather Senison - October 22, 2019

Thanksgiving is about bringing loved ones together around a table for a delicious meal. If we’re being honest, it’s also about making that table look absolutely gorgeous. We polled area designers for tips on how to put together our favorite holiday tablescapes for your dream dinner this year. But before we dive in, there are a few things to keep in mind.
For example, a beautifully-cooked turkey should always be the centerpiece, with sides and desserts served up as decorations, notes Kelli Delaney, renown Hamptons hostess, founder of the luxury lifestyle blog KDHamptons.com and judge for the tabletop competition at the Hampton Classic.
And don’t feel the need to rigidly stick to one theme, adds Sharon Courbois, manager at the Bridgehampton Williams Sonoma. Rather, think of them as ingredients to inspire ideas, she says. “People draw from a little bit of everything to make their tablescape unique and their own,” Courbois explains.
Without further adieu, here are our favorite Thanksgiving tablescape picks:
Traditional: It’s no surprise that a traditional theme would look like the ultimate celebration of Thanksgiving. The Plymouth collection at Williams Sonoma is the perfect example, Courbois says. The line has turkeys and hunting dogs painted on everything in festive fall colors. “Every year they add a little extra, so it’s something that people build their collections on,” she says.
But not everything on the table has to be new, as a traditional setting is a great opportunity to bring out your grandmother’s china, too. On the table, layer plaids into the place settings and tablecloth, and top with ivory and red taper candles. For the runner, design “an elongated floral centerpiece, trailing greenery and bittersweet berry vines, green heirloom gourds, Jack Be Little pumpkins (we prefer white) set with some dried colored corns,” recommends Jennifer Marchese, a floral designer with Wildflower Floral Events in Eastport.
Rustic: By contrast, this idea is a more organic or natural approach. For a centerpiece, “if you were going rustic, I could see getting some driftwood off the beach and making it feel more beachy,” says Southampton-based interior designer Brian Brady. Decorate around it with vases full of sand, shells and dune grass, he adds. Along the runner, Delaney suggests a mix of dried corn, along with pomegranates, apples and other fruit.
Plateware should have minimal or no design, and should be made of natural materials in an earthy color palette, adds Courbois.
Modern: In a modern design, “there are no colors of the harvest on the table,” Delaney explains. “It’s black and white.” If you are going to incorporate a color, she recommends green, like a runner decorated with succulents. Contemporary tablescapes look fresh, clean and minimalist, agrees Marchese. Incorporate “abstract-shaped bud vases clustered in varying heights with some dried thistle or grasses, maybe one orchid or anthurium to complete the look with a pop of color like the deep crimson,” she says.
Vintage: If you’d rather scour antique shops for unique finds than head to a high-end retailer for brand-new plateware, we have an option for you too. Collectors of teapots, candlesticks, vases and other knick knacks will feel at home with a vintage tabletop theme, Brady says. “People that collect, they can have all different kinds of dishware and glasses,” he says. “Then you can bring in mismatched everything and that can be kind of fun.” Another especially charming idea from Brady: Put your floral arrangements into antique watering cans. And where to find such cute items? Delaney favors the Good Ground Antique Center and Antiques by James McGuire, which are a stone’s throw from each other on West Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays. “They have tons of silverware, tableware and glassware and vintage linens,” she says.
Hamptons: Our list wouldn’t be complete without this treasured motif. However, with all design themes, personal interpretations vary slightly between designers. One common thread however was the unofficial color scheme of the Hamptons: “Blue and white is always right,” as Delaney puts it. If it’s warm enough, you can even host your dinner out on the porch, and drape cashmere throws in seasonal colors on the backs of chairs to keep guests cozy. And since the Hamptons are as abundant in crops as they are beaches, why not shop locally for your produce, flowers and even your turkey? The colors are always ‘summer’ in the Hamptons.”

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