The table is without a doubt the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving gathering. Instead of stressing about it at the last minute, take some time to plan ahead for a relaxed, low-stress holiday.
Table size—how many dinner guests will you be seating? Is your table large enough once you’ve put all the platters, serving dishes, floral arrangements, drinks, etc. on the table? If not, consider using secondary tables as serving tables (you can even use folding tables, covered with a nice cloth). Figure about 18” of elbow room per guest and enough space to get in and out of their seat without disturbing their tablemates.
Glassware—forget everything you know about glassware. Today’s styles bridge the gap between casual, every day and more elegant options. Opt for gorgeous, sustainable pieces that show off your personal style. Are you the type for fiery red glasses, or do you prefer to sip your wine from dramatic, striking jet black? The days of plain, clear glass being the standard are over. Today’s table includes glassware that’s unique and personal.
Linens—whether you go formal or casual, a cloth, runner, placemats or other table linens will form the foundation for your table. You can opt for something festive and colorful, or go neutral with natural linen. Use layering to create the look you want and incorporate different colors and textures, and take your cue from whatever china you’ll be putting on it.
The centerpiece—keep it simple, keep it low, keep it centered, and keep it non-scented to avoid clashing with food. As fun as it is to decorate a table, don’t let the decorations get in the way of conversations or passing food. Herb garlands make terrific, and very complementary, centerpieces.
Lights—if you can, dim the dining room lights so the room feels cozy and intimate, or use candles instead of electric lights. If you’ve got to go regular lights, try swapping your bulbs for lower-output CFLs or LEDs in a warm tone.
Fragrance—stick to food-based or traditional holiday scents to avoid clashing with the smells of cooking. Spice-scented candles are perhaps the best for Thanksgiving—they conjure up thoughts of pumpkin pie! The only real rule for scented candles is to keep them off the table.
Give thanks—the holiday is all about giving thanks, so take a moment to share in a way that’s meaningful to your family.
Clean up—the holidays produce mountains more trash and waste than normal, so make sure you’re recycling! If you don’t compost, ask around, you might be able to find a garden center in your area that will accept your compostables.