Traditional and stuffy is just not my jam. So today I’m going to walk you through how to Design A Modern Thanksgiving Table of your own!

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, you’ll likely have a table of some sort for everyone to gather around. Normally, food tends to be the first thing we think of when it comes to Thanksgiving, but your tabletop design should not be forgotten! Your table setting has the power to give a huge amount of atmosphere and vibes to your thanksgiving. So be prepared to give it the time and attention it deserves!

modern thanksgiving table design

Components of a modern table design

  • You don’t need to have ALL.OF.THE.THINGS. Remember, less is sometimes more and let each item stand on its own.
  • Add Texture! Since we are scaling back on the volume of items, texture is really helpful to add complexity and interest.
  • Be thoughtful with color. There isn’t a rule about how many colors you can use, but what colorful or monochromatic tables have in common is how they bring the color to life. Be thoughtful about where and how you use the colors you’ve selected.
  • Include height variation. When your flowers and candles are all the same height, things can fall flat, so instead you should create layers and depth with height.
  • Incorporate uniformity. This doesn’t mean things can’t get a little funky. But ideally you keep everything tidy and intentionally placed. As a result, every item should feel like it has a purpose and reason for being there. Take the time to straighten the flatware, evenly fold the napkins, and place the glassware.
modern thanksgiving tabletop

How I brought a modern table to life

The main textures I used to execute my modern thanksgiving table design are these ceramic plates, gold flatware and other golden details, these velvet napkins, linen, and vintage crystal cut glass. The menus from Bourne Paper Co and have a vellum wrap with golden stripes to help add a little more *umph* to each place setting. The florals by Amanda Vidmar Design help keep us in the color palette and add both texture and height variation. I also include these pillar candles which add height variation, and help set a beautiful ambiance. The “cafe au lait” color is my favorite and very universal. Finally, I finish the design with some pears that were both on color theme, add a beautiful texture, and help fill the table so it isn’t too sparse. Most importantly, editing is typically the key to pulling off a cohesive table!

thanksgiving candle lighting

Step by step how to design a modern thanksgiving table:

finding inspiration and picking a theme

1. Firstly, find your color inspiration. This can be anything really. I would suggest starting with something fall related, or you can pick out a certain piece (like a beautiful serving bowl or platter) and base the colors off of that! For my table, I found inspiration in California’s beautiful golden fall tones and opted to use that as my color theme.

planning color execution

2. Secondly, decide how you’ll execute the palette. Will you keep the settings all white and just bring the color through the florals? Are you going to bring out the palette in the plates and the serveware? Or will you keep everything within a few shades of each other? As you can see, I opted to keep the color fairly monochromatic. I primarily used shades from caramel to golden, with a lighter linen base.

gather inspiration and begin creating cohesion

3. Thirdly, Create a Pinterest board of your ideas. Or get out your serving pieces and flatware and start playing around! Seeing everything all together can be a really great way to test it out beforehand and maybe you see there’s an opportunity to add a really unique piece you’ve had your eye on. I always take this opportunity to browse some of my go-to stores online for any unique inventory that I might want to include.

wrap it together with the small details

4. Finally, Select the little details. Maybe you already own all of the serving pieces, and place setting pieces – that’s awesome! You can still spice up your everyday pieces by investing in some new candle holders, or candles themselves. Candles are a fun way to bring in your color or play with shades of a color. What about cute salt and pepper shakers, or the centerpiece vessel? You can also spice up your table by adding some stationery – maybe a unique placecard (or names painted on pears if you’re feeling artsy!?), or a menu for everyone.

Table setting tips

  • Use one thumb distance from the edge of the table to your charger or plate. This keeps the chargers all uniform around the table, and from creeping too high on the table, or hanging over the edge.
  • Line up the bottom of your flatware with the bottom of your plate or charger. This again keeps everything more uniform and straight.
  • Line up your chairs evenly. if you are using a linen, you want the front edges of the chairs to just *kiss* the linen, rather than be pushed all the way in.
  • Polish your flatware! Keep it free from fingerprints.
  • Set the table the day before you use it! This one is a biggie. It can take me anywhere from 30-40 minutes to actually get everything on the table from start to finish, especially depending on how many place setting you have. But this does NOT include any last minute rewashing of flatware that wasn’t clean, steaming the linen if it hasn’t been used in a while, taking down the glassware from all of it’s hiding places, and making last minute swaps. Give yourself more time so the day of Thanksgiving you can just focus on cooking and hosting!

There are really so many possibilities to design a modern Thanksgiving table, but I hope you got something out of this to bring to your own!

If you’re looking for an easy but delicious dessert to serve at Thanksgiving, check out my favorite vegan apple crisp!

modern thanksgiving table

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