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Thanksgiving Tablescapes

Emily Henderson Paracute Tablescape Neutral Linen Natural 7
Photo by Tessa Neustadt

Thanksgiving is coming up and regardless of the fact that I’m not hosting, my eye is all over the tablescape game. So I started shopping and pinning and created a few fantasy tablescapes that I figured I could at least pass on to those of you who might be hosting. I almost threw a friendsgiving this year just to have an excuse to play with flatware but then I realized that we are leaving on Saturday for a week and once again I didn’t prepare or invite anyone. *True story – I swore for 6 weeks that I was going to have a halloween party and then forgot to schedule, plan or invite anyone, so the Sunday before we had a last minute thing that was also Birdie’s birthday party (because we were gone for her birthday and kinda forgot about that as well … look she’s only 2). So my track record for executing parties isn’t good. 

Emily Henderson Paracute Tablescape Neutral Linen Natural 12
Photo by Tessa Neustadt

The above tablescape is one we did with Parachute and the below are just some that I LOVE. They feel warm and modern, but totally inviting and yet not too fussy or too much “work”.

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Generally for the centerpiece I like to have just a few elements, then repeat them down the table – usually including flowers or garland (the simpler/easier the better) and candles. Repetition in pieces creates impact and keeps it simple and easy for you. Don’t get me wrong, I love a collection of eclectic vessels but if you are starting from scratch it’s a lot easier to execute a cohesive table if you have your pieces the same (aka matching plates, matching flatware, matching glassware). The “collected” look is a lot harder and more expensive to execute than it looks, but when done right is very exciting.

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The simplicity in the tablescape below is certainly powerful, right? Dark and moody, with matching napkins and tablecloth and then warm wood chairs and floor.

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I started pinning any tabletop item that I LOVED regardless of budget. This generally helps me figure out the vibe and helps lead me into the direction that I want to go. Then if I were actually to execute it, I might look for less expensive versions, unless it was something that I could use on a daily basis and it made my heart super happy.

I thought I was just pinning for one board, but then I looked it all together and there was definitely enough for a few different looks (including flowers and centerpiece ideas). So in case you are still in the planning stages, here are three Thanksgiving tablescapes that I personally think can work year round, for any occasion with seasonal flowers (thus letting you rationalize the splurges :)).

First one is ‘Modern Homespun’ which is certainly of the moment, but is such because it’s both old world and warm yet new and fresh.

Emily Henderson Thanksgiving Modern Homespun 1

1. Prosecco Glasses | 2. Moscow Mule Cup | 3. Large Cut Rimmed Pitcher | 4. Gold Drinking Glass | 5. Dried Yarrow Bunch | 6. Dried Banksia Bunch | 7. Faux Crimson Amaranth Spray | 8. Preserved Fern Bunch | 9. Dried Lagurus Bunch | 10. Cream Dinner Plate | 11. Black Salad Plate | 12. Terrcotta Bowl | 13. Place Card | 14. Place Card Holder | 15. Table Cloth | 16. Amber Bud Vases | 17. Italian Stainless Steel Flatware Set | 18. Blue Linen Napkins | 19. Wooden Napkin Rings | 20. Terracotta Taper Candles | 21. Black Candlesticks | 22. Walnut Serving Set | 23. Grey Wooden Large Bowl | 24. Gravy Boat | 25. Wooden Footed Tray | 26. Oval Pewter Platter | 27. Carving Set | 28. Mug | 29. French Press | 30. Sugar Bowl | 31. Iron Pie Pan | 32. Black Walnut Pie Server | 33. Walnut Spoon | 34. Blue Stipe Bowl | 35. Wooden Oval Serving Tray | 36. Striped Pot Holder | 37. Staub Cast Iron French Oven

I LOVE the combination of the dark burgundy with the black, amber and wood. And creating a dried grass/flower centerpiece is seasonal and very affordable (many wholesale flower markets, and even Michaels or Moskatels will have good versions that fit the bill). Just make sure that your vessels are small-mouthed (like the amber jars up there).

This next look was the one that I initially started with – casual, simple but warm modern Scandinavian farmhouse. Classic/traditional elements (like the candlesticks and basket) with more simple/scandy shapes, too. As you know I have been to Target probably 12 times the last couple weeks and the Hearth and Hand collection by Chip and Joanna Gaines is so great for this look. I wanted all of it, and if I were hosting a Thanksgiving this is probably what I would get – both in look and in price. It’s seriously good stuff that looks expensive, but is absolutely affordable.

Emily Henderson Thanksgiving Scandinavian Farmhouse 1

1. Tulip Wine Glasses | 2. Green Glass | 3. Place Card | 4. Wood House Place Card Holder | 5. Glass Pitcher | 6. Inspiration Photo Source | 7. Green Plate | 8. X Pattern Small Plate | 9. Individual Casseroles | 10. Placemat | 11. Fringed Napkins | 12. Matte Black Flatware | 13. White Taper Candles | 14. Vintage Black Candlestick Holders | 15. Oversized Platter | 16. Gravy Boat | 17. Carving Set | 18. Bread Basket | 19. Tea Towel | 20. Modern Cake Stand | 21. Pie Server | 22. Electric Kettle | 23. Enamel Mug | 24. Serving Platter | 25. Wooden Serving Board | 26. Creamer and Sugar Set | 27. Brass Serving Set | 28. Cast Iron Dutch Oven

This last one is a little brighter, perfect for those of you/us in a warmer/southern climate. It was inspired by those amazing oval rose placemats. It’s a bit more delicate and sweet, but the addition of that indigo and blue helps keeps it balanced. I particularly love the battery operated LED fairy lights (of which I have a ton in my house right now) because they give such good light and you can hide the battery in the garland (if it’s thick enough). Eucalyptus should be in season at higher end supermarkets (Whole Foods) and you don’t even have to wire them together to create a garland, just lay them down the center and add the candles (for height) and string lights (for a whimsical ambience).

Emily Henderson Thanksgiving Friendsgiving Blue And Blush Traditional 1

1. Ribbed Glasses | 2. Wine Glass | 3. Pitcher | 4. Lilac Glass | 5. Inspiration Photo Source | 6. String Lights | 7. Dinner Plate | 8. Butter Dish | 9. Placemat | 10. Swedish Blue Rosemaling Plates | 11. Pink Bowl | 12. Vintage Flatware | 13. Striped Napkins | 14. Blue Tapered Candles | 15. Vintage-Inspired Candlesticks | 16. Table Runner | 17. Place Card Holder | 18. Place Card | 19. Gravy Boat | 20. Platter | 21. Carving Set | 22. Blush Porcelain Ice Cream Cone | 23. Brass Ice Cream Scoop | 24. Vintage French Wood Boards | 25. Mist Platter | 26. Pewter Slotted Spoon | 27. Staub White Cocotte | 28. Pink Platter | 29. Lotus Platter | 30. Vintage Fork

The blue floral plates make it feel more special and traditional. Then the vintage/antique flatware gives it some old-world heft and grounds it a bit.

Which one would you do or better yet, which style would you want to be a guest at? I honestly can’t decide, but it’s making me want to throw a dinner party now (although secretly I LOVE that it’s not my responsibility at Thanksgiving and what we do in Sacramento feels like home because it’s warm and every piece of decor has become part of the tradition). It truly doesn’t matter how much you spend or what you use as your centerpiece. We use candles, flowers and cornucopias on white tablecloth, antique silverware and white dishes at Brian’s parents and it’s perfect. But if you were looking for some new ideas or to start your own traditions, I hope these ideas helped. xx

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  1. Love this post. So helpful to get some ideas as a starting point. Thank you!

  2. This is great. We are hosting a “Thanks Again” party after Thanksgiving, where our friends bring leftovers and we have a potluck. It’s obviously very casual, but a fancy table will make the whole affair feel festive.

    1. OMG. that’s such a fun idea. I think that could catch on …. xx

  3. I don’t consider myself a big Chip and Joanna Gaines fan, but I have to say, I love all their stuff for Target. And now you have to show me those cute little house place card holders! I may have to throw a party just to justify buying them…

  4. Just gorgeous Emily!
    For another different thing or maybe a kids table, did you see this thanksgiving Macy parade table?
    So clever and good. Thought you’d really appreciate.
    http://thehousethatlarsbuilt.com/category/party/

  5. I’m wondering if I need an education on table linens? In my past life before being a stay home mom, I was in event marketing. It was very tabu to have short linenss, meaning linens (tho more expensive) needed to hit the floor? Is that no longer preferred? Did you consider it? I still think it lols cleaner and do it myself.

    1. I find that it’s all about how the table is used. Sure, in event marketing you were probably renting 60″ rounds and 6′ longs and picking rental linens and colors based on the client or event. I personally subscribe to the “show it if it’s pretty, hide it if it’s not” idea for just about anything. In this particular instance that would mean that almost all rental tables need linens to the floor to hide the (usually dented and dirty) legs. In the photos above, the table and chairs are gorgeous, so if it were my table, I would also have the linens hit the chair tops as shown. It shows off the furniture and you then have the option to possibly splurge on material type because you’re not going to the floor. Plus, who actually enjoys anything made out of a poly blend?

      1. That’s a good point. Thanks. 🙂 Istill prefer the calmness of the linens straight to the floor, but I totally get it otherwise.

  6. So glad to see that several of your inspiration photos use silver flatware! I just recently replaced mine and although the gold and black styles were so gorgeous all the negative reviews about longevity made me stick to classic stainless.

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  12. I like this post and had requested it before so thank you!

    BUT I could use even more detail… maybe an initial setting and then sub things out to see the difference in feel and formality

    glasswear vs pottery
    tablecloth vs placemats (or both?? is that a thing??)
    long table cloth with runner vs bare table with runner vs both vs none… what possibilities are there??

    I’m a newbie and need it dumbed down for me! Am I alone on this?

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