Thanksgiving 101: Table Decor, Place Settings, & Party Favors

I’m continuing to share my absolute love for Thanksgiving in my new blog series Thanksgiving 101! Hosting your own? Check out these cocktail and appetizer recipes and tips.

Ah, the table. If you’re wanting a sit-down dinner, you first need a place for everyone to sit. Find enough space at the table ,and chairs for all guests; every year, this is one of the hardest parts for us as apartment-dwellers. I have two folding tables — one standard legs-pop-in version and another super-compact option from Target — that I attach to our kitchen table using belts wrapped around the legs. While this doesn’t keep the tables perfectly aligned, it does make it harder for one person to knock the center table out of line while standing up or scooting in. For chairs, I beg, borrow, and steal — kidding, I raid our place, then ask a trusted guest to BYOB BYKC (bring your kitchen chairs.)

Now here’s the part where a lot of people opt for disposable plates and silverware. Don’t get me wrong — it is way easier, and they come in plenty of cute and sturdy options… but I love the look and feel of the real stuff, even if the clean-up sucks. We currently have a service-for-16 flatware set, which means we’re set in that department. For dishes, I always use our mismatched Fiestaware collection; and for glasses, I grab from our assortment of vintage juice glasses. I do typically select disposable paper napkins, if for no other reason than I feel people can be made uncomfortable by cloth. Do you really want to ruin your bestie’s best linen with your red wine moustache? Didn’t think so.

Since the table is coordinated, but not matching, I set place settings in a casual fashion; I also simply don’t own enough wine glasses for a party this big, and there was no reason to have spoons out at any point. Casual it is! A napkin folded nicely on the salad plate with a dinner plate below and silverware above sets the tone for the festive celebration without seeming too stuffy.

Mismatched plates, glasses, and chairs can easily teeter the line between shabby chic and sloppy, so I selected three matching (incredibly clearanced) tablecloths. To visually connect the three tables, and to anchor the centerpieces, I ran several rolls of inexpensive, waxed burlap down the middle . These rolls were the ideal width to serve as a table runner and did not require hemming. On top of the burlap table runner, I placed a collection of clear glassware to serve as flower vases and candle holders; I used what I had around the house, what former coworkers had abandoned at the office (it’s amazing how many people don’t want the vase after they get flowers delivered!), and what I could find at Goodwill. I stuck to a clear palate to avoid competing with the colorful plates — and, this option was way cheap, as I was able to reuse plenty of items from around the house. I filled the glassware with inexpensive tea lights and cheap grocery store flowers in autumn hues.

Let’s break down the cost of the decor.

  • Vases: $3, Goodwill (most are recycled jars, vases coworkers didn’t want, or other clear bottles I found around the house)
  • Votive holders: $3, Goodwill
  • Tea lights: $2, Walmart
  • Burlap: $10, Michaels (bought with coupon)
  • Tablecloths: $20, Bed Bath & Beyond (old; originally bought on clearance with coupons)
  • Flowers: $22, Schnucks
  • Confetti: Free (gift; could get for practically free during after-holiday sales)
  • Small pumpkins: $1, Michaels (bought on clearance with coupons)
  • Pumpkin table scatter: $1, Target (old)
    Total table decor cost: $62 (keep in mind: I already owned a lot of it, like the tablecloths, and the majority of the new items can be used again and again!)

HOUSE

Thanksgiving Table Setting - Mismatched chairs, vintage glasses, mason jars, burlap, candles, and Fiestaware plates (1)

Thanksgiving Table Setting - Mismatched chairs, vintage glasses, mason jars, burlap, candles, and Fiestaware plates (5)

Thanksgiving Table Setting - Mismatched chairs, vintage glasses, mason jars, burlap, candles, and Fiestaware plates (2)

Is the mismatched look not quite your thing? Here are a few more of my favorite tablescapes.

Now, on to party favors! You wouldn’t throw a birthday celebration without cake, you wouldn’t host New Years Eve without hats… Why have any party without favors? Whether it’s a little token of appreciation or a delectable sweet treat, handing guests a parting gift is a great way to end the evening with a bang. At my recent early Thanksgiving, I gifted reusable holiday-themed cups filled with cookies and wrapped in festive packaging. (To keep them fresh, the cookies were sealed in plastic zipper bags inside of the cups and treat bags.) The ribbons were post-Christmas clearance items from last season, and the plastic bags were on sale early as they were labeled as Halloween decor. I used a rubber stamp and some last-season stickers placed on tags to decorate the finished packages, and I handed them out to guests as we said our goodbyes.

THANKSGIVING 101

Easy DIY Thanksgiving Party Favors (3)

Easy DIY Thanksgiving Party Favors (6)

Easy DIY Thanksgiving Party Favors (4)

Looking for other party favor ideas? Try a few of these cute options.


 

Wrapping up Thanksgiving 101: Decorations and hostessing tips, coming soon!

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