Thanksgiving this year is not going to look like any we can remember. But that doesn’t mean it can’t feel festive! Decorating can go a long way towards making Thanksgiving feel like an occasion, even if it does look different this year.
How? I think we should take this Thanksgiving as an opportunity to go as fancy as possible. Trade in the kitschy paper turkeys and faux leaves for some elegant and stylish decorations that will make you feel proud and excited.
If Thanksgiving usually means jeans, football, and paper plates, getting dressed up will make this a fun adventure. And if you usually do dress up, it’s important to keep that tradition when you may not have the whole family at the table. We’ve all worn enough sweatpants this year.
Let’s take this holiday as a chance to slow down with a few people we love and make the most of it.
Setting The Table
The table is the star of Thanksgiving. Here’s how to make yours extra special, without too much work.
China & Crystal
It’s time to break out your finest china. With every other day this year bleeding into the next, you want Thanksgiving to stand out. There’s no easier way to make an evening feel special than by using your most precious plates and flatware. Bring out the nice wine glasses, too.
Consider a Runner
Call it old school, but a beautiful runner is the easiest way to set an elegant table. If you want polish without the extra formality of a tablecloth, or the work of putting together an elaborate tablescape, or if you simply want to show off a beautiful wood table, opt for a runner. This simple Hemp Runner from Pottery Barn will go with everything, and its texture adds a tactile layer to your setting.
Create a Centerpiece
Centerpieces don’t have to be intimidating. In fact, creating your own is a great activity you can do with the kids. First, choose your focal point. The possibilities are endless, but it helps to narrow it down to either candles, flowers (and branches), or gourds. Some interior design tips apply no matter which you choose:
Add layers of height
This is the perfect opportunity to utilize mis-matched candlesticks, or to create a bouquet using herbs from your garden. The trick is to balance tall branches or candlesticks with other heights to add visual interest. Just make sure everyone at the table can see each other over the centerpiece! I love using berry or crab apple branches this time of year (they’re super budget-friendly too). You can place them in vases, mason jars, or try a horizontal display by tying the branches with yarn.
I like to opt for full monochrome, choosing one color and adding in various hues for an ombre effect. Painting small pumpkins with the kids is a great way to do this. Or, you can pick contrasting colors. Juxtapose the warm palette of autumn with cool undertones. Try orange blossoms or mums in a blue vase, or to go with your blue plates.
Pick up some fresh flowers
Designing a Thanksgiving space that fills you with joy can be as simple as splurging on flowers! It’s the easiest way to add loveliness and the feeling of a special of occasion to your home. Support a local florist and pick up a professionally arranged fall bouquet, either for the centerpiece, or for the room you’ll be spending most of the time in. Even spending a little more than you usually would for flowers at the supermarket can go a long way towards brightening up your home.
Personalized Place Settings
A great way to make everyone feel special is to make a unique place setting for them. When the rest of the decorations err the side of sophisticated, personalized place cards bring a homey sense of family. If you have time, dig up some old family photos and use those as place settings. If you’re looking for a DIY project you can do with the kids, I love this walnut shell Mayflower place card tutorial.
Want something even easier? If you live in an area with evergreens, forage some pine cones from outside. Then add a little piece of stock paper with their hand-written names, or maybe arrange them by size, the smallest pine cone for the smallest member of the family.
One of the best ideas I’ve seen for a Thanksgiving place setting is this DIY parchment placemat. Simple and genuine, it brings everyone back to the purpose of this holiday.
Handwritten Menu Cards
We all miss going out to dinner without a care in the world. You know what I also miss? Paper menus! Forget those QR codes for a day (better yet, make Thanksgiving a phone-free event!), and hand-write the menu on a cute card. It’s not only a great way to show off your calligraphy skills, but it also brings the old-fashioned feeling of being at a fancy restaurant.
Setting the Mood
Interior design is just as much about ambiance as it is about the physical touches in a space.
One of the most important interior design tips is to pay as much attention to lighting as anything else. The right lighting can lift your spirits and relax you. To celebrate gratitude and loved ones, you’ll want the lighting to be cozy and inviting. You’re aiming for a soft glow. The first way to create warm lightning is to choose the right bulbs. The Kelvin temperature of a bulb will tell you what kind of light it emits; you want something around 2700 or less for a warmer glow. Or, use only soft or indirect light. For example, you can leave the light on in the kitchen and let it spill into a dining room only lit by candles. You can use a lampshade of warm hue, or drape a stylish scarf over a bright lamp. The light from chandeliers or sconces also can be soft light. And of course, if you have dimmers, set them low.
You definitely don’t want to compete with the delicious smell of Thanksgiving dinner, so restraint is key for adding scents to your celebration. Choosing an accent that’s subtle but clever, like clove-pierced oranges or cinnamon stick details will add just the right amount of sweetness to the air.
Stick to Your Traditions
Hopefully, the kids (and you!) will be wrapped up in getting dressed, acting fancy, cooking, and crafting. But it’ll still be hard if you’ve all been looking forward to seeing extended family and won’t get to.
That’s why it’s important to follow traditions as much as you can, rethinking them for our digital age. If grandpa always does the carving, call him up! In this year of Zoom, this is one video call that you’ll actually enjoy.
As always, Thanksgiving is what we make it. I hope these considerations help make yours full of outsized joy.