Thanksgiving Hosting Tips That Will Help You Enjoy the Day

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on November 4, 2019

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and if your family and friends are coming to you, it’s time to get moving. This year, we’re embracing Thanksgiving traditions, or twists, in the context of your dining table. Including the menu you prepare, the loved ones you invite, the customs you keep (or ditch), and of course, how you style your table. Make the most of Thanksgiving by simplifying and preparing your table in advance, so you can spend time enjoying the company.

Here’s how to set a straightforward, stylish table for whatever your family brings to it–whatever family means to you. 

Start with choosing the right table cloth. A traditional white tablecloth will set the tone for a more elegant Thanksgiving dinner, whereas a black tablecloth adds drama (and hides any evidence of wine). If you go with a white tablecloth, try adding depth to the table with a contrasting overlay. Overlays are typically smaller than the base table cloth and can be placed at an angle to make the setting more visually stimulating. We love warmth of the Crate and Barrel Rust Table Throw

If a tablecloth is not in your repertoire, go au naturel with a few budget-friendly, design-savvy hacks that can be dressed up or down.

Butcher Paper

A Martha Stewart classic. Butcher paper is the perfect solution when looking add personality and style to your Thanksgiving tablescape (or any tablescape, for that matter). It’s neutral-toned, recyclable, and gives your table an artisanal feel perfect for the “scratch-made” meal that you definitely didn’t order from Whole Foods. Any arts and craft store will have butcher paper, but you might find it easier to go straight to the source on your next trip to the grocery. Just make sure that you have enough to cover the length of the table and drape down each side. If you’re working with large furniture, don’t be afraid to layer–you can even cover up the overlap with floral arrangements and centerpiece decor.


Easy to find, easy to clean, and you’ll seem like you know exactly what you’re doing. This tablescape classic can give a natural yet formal, craftsman-like aesthetic to any style dining room year-round. Plus, it’s easy to complement the soft texture using linen napkins–another choice mom will be impressed with. More on napkins later.


Try challenging the norm, because who needs a tablecloth, anyway? Make your evening easier by scratching the tablecloth off your list. This is a great solution if your dining room table speaks for itself. A bowl of fruit or bread basket sits perfectly at the center. More room on the table means more flowers. Just be sure when choosing to go minimal that every selection is well-curated and its placement is intentional. With fewer items on the table, each one matters more so choose carefully. Pick items that cultivate a festive, seasonal mood. 

Choose Your Dinnerware

When food is the star of the show, ceramics are king. Year & Day carries our recommendation for a simple and timeless look. It’s the quintessential dinnerware set for any occasion, and pairs perfecting with each of the tablecloth sets listed above (or lack thereof).

A dark dinnerware set is a bold choice, but when done right, it’s stunning. Try mixing and matching Year & Day Midnight ceramic plates with their Daybreak bowls for a look that will have your friends talking. If this still isn’t dramatic enough for you, venture from your default flatware and opt for a glamorous metallic gold set for a subtle wow-factor that works wonderfully with our next recommendation.


Thanksgiving Dinnerwear

Glasses are another way to add creativity to your tablescape. We love CB2’s chroma clear double old-fashioned glasses for their texture. Worried about everyone’s order? Avoid playing bartender all night and instead, set up an open bar where guests can pour their own drinks. It’ll keep everyone happy and free you from refilling glasses.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Ask guests to bring select dishes, so you don’t need to spend the whole day ahead of time cooking (and can focus on your beautiful tablescape). If you’re looking for cooking inspiration, check out Kaitlin Skilken’s fresh interpretations of Thanksgiving recipes.  

Other tabletop must-haves? Bread, obviously. A basket of bread (or another form of craveable carbs) simply must be within arm’s reach. Spare your guests from asking for another piece by mix-matching different pots, bowls, and baskets and placing them throughout your arrangement for your guests to enjoy as they please. Tall, thin solutions are an ideal home for breadsticks whereas wider bowls can house rustic loaves of garlic bread.

Stylish Napkins

Details matter at the dinner table in more ways than one. Napkins can be styled on the plate in a variety of ways, giving you the opportunity to add personality and flair to your tablescape. For a simple aesthetic, linen napkins provide formality without seeming overdone. Bundle your napkins in twine with wildflowers or fresh, seasonal herbs for an eye-catching accent. Aromatic herbs are an easy and unexpected detail that will give your spread the essence of craft cooking and market freshness. Versatile and savory, rosemary is an herb that grows well in many environments and is subtly perfume-like. Since it will likely appear on the dinner plate around this time of year, use rosemary to accent your tablescape as well. Try integrating it into your centerpiece. 


While fine-tuning your decor, experiment with height using floral arrangements. After all, there’s never a wrong time for a little something green. Play with foliage and florals on your tablescape, using either long, luscious arrangements down the center of your table or something a little more central. Accent the centerpiece with smaller bunches of the same bouquet across the spread.

Pro-tip: Candles are the perfect solution for adding height and formality. Tall and thin candles sit elegantly on Mid-Century candlesticks, whereas other pillar candles make for a more classic appeal, contributing visual weight as needed. 

Fruits, nuts, and spices play well on the tablescape, too. They’re an ode to the harvest and somewhat unexpected. Pomegranates, apples, and pears yield a seasonal tone and are complemented by roasted walnuts, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.

Thanksgiving Event Ideas

Master of classics and well-renowned creator of gathering spaces, Michael Hebb, spent years doing just that: creating spaces that foster the innate, human desire to come together. “People have such a profound desire to gather and to deepen the meaning around why they’re gathering,” he says. For us, it’s the little things: the stories you tell, and tell again; the dessert that only you know how to perfect. Thanksgiving is welcoming, sharing and reminding the people in your life that you’re grateful to have them, “family” or otherwise. So, above all else, remember that the Thanksgiving holiday isn’t about what’s on the table–it’s about who’s there.

We can’t wait to see your Thanksgiving dinner table setting. Share your table with us using #myhavenly. And if you don’t already, follow us @thehavenly on Instagram! 

In the meantime, shop this designer-curated selection of servingware and decor perfect for Thanksgiving. 

Words by Morgan Hitz