Easy Thanksgiving Table Place Setting Styling Ideas

Looking for some cozy and inviting table place setting ideas for your Thanksgiving dinner? Check out these easy-to-follow tips on how to create warm and inviting Thanksgiving table place settings that will surely impress your guests using the dinnerware you already own.

I love seeing sets of festive Thanksgiving dinner plates at Pottery Barn like the one shown above. The photos of their tablesettings look so inviting and stylish that I have almost clicked “add to cart” many times when browsing their site.

I have to stop and remind myself that I will only use the “one holiday only” dinnerware for Thanksgiving and a few days after for the leftovers. After this, I would have to find storage for the set for the rest of the year. Storage space I don’t have.

5 different types of brown ribbon for fall.

So instead, over the years I have enjoyed coming up with new ways to style my Thanksgiving Tables and place settings a bit differently every year using my white dinnerware, ribbon and items I find at thrift and craft stores.

Hobby Lobby Fall finds. Wood look Melamine dinner plates, see berry ribbon garland and acorn jingle bells.

Last week when perusing the aisles at Hobby Lobby for Christmas fabric, I came home with the 3 items pictured above. They caught my eye and they were 50% off so I bought them knowing I would come up with a few ideas on how I could use them for my Thanksgiving table this year.

In my previous house I set my holiday dinner table days in advance since the room was only used for holidays and special events.

I no longer have that luxury since I no longer have a dining room. My kitchen table is where we entertain. On Thanksgiving the table is used all day for breakfast, playing games and more. I can’t really set it until it is time to eat.

I like to be prepared so before the big day, I play around with table place setting ideas. Once I like what I styled, I will move it all to my studioffice so it is at the ready to put in place on the table on Thanksgiving Day when it’s getting close to dinner time.

I thought I would walk you through my process when it comes to setting a holiday table to show you that using the china or dinnerware you already own can easily be styled in many different ways with ribbon and craft store items.

Do You Want a More Casual or Formal Look?

Before I choose anything for the table, I ask myself if I want to go formal or casual? Knowing this helps me decide if I want to use a tablecloth, a table runner or simple placemats.

In my previous home’s dining room, I used this Plywood Tabletop Extender so we could seat up to 14 people at a table normally that seats 6. I always used a tablecloth to cover it since it was unfinished plywood.

In my current home, I don’t have a dining room and use my Wood Plank Round Table for every meal. Since I like the wood top and don’t want to hide it, I usually go for placemats.

But know this, when creating a holiday dinner table set up, you don’t have to choose one or the other, you can use all of them as I did one year.

Thanksgiving table setting

I first placed a brown tablecloth on the table and on top layered a wide white burlap table runner I made so the fringed edges stopped just short of the table edge.

close up of white plates on a Thanksgiving table setting.

I also made Decorative Edge Paper Placemats for each place setting to resemble a plate charger or placemat. Adding these 3 layers created a nice go between formal and casual. The layers also added visual interest to the table.

Dinnerware Choices

Next up is choosing the dinnerware. Fine China, stoneware or your everyday plates? I have always used one or mix and match a few of my three sets of white dinnerware to decorate all my holiday tables. White goes with everything so I can style around the white plates in many different ways.

Rustic Thanksgiving Table place cards to make

I have Classic Rim White Dinner Plates I bought 10 years ago, White Dinner Plates with basket embossed rims that I bought at Walmart over 20 years ago and another set with embossed fruit around the rims that I have had for at least 30 years. White dinnerware is classic and never goes out of style.

brown and white plates on a dining table

Over the years I mix and match all of these dinner plates with various salad plates I collected over the years to change the look of the table from year to year.

I bought the woven plate chargers last year at World Market. They no longer have them, but here are similar ones. I wanted a rustic layer of interest and texture to add to the table and they are perfect.

The embossed dot rim salad plates I found at HomeGoods 10 years ago. I still see them there, so even HomeGoods knows they are classic. The brown Transferware can be found at rummage sales or online.

Thanksgiving table place setting in a rustic style

Last week I tried out the wood look plates I bought at Hobby Lobby on the woven chargers. I like the plates, but would rather see a white dinner plate as the next layer on the charger, then maybe a salad plate size for the wood plate.

I do like the acorn jingle bell which brings me to the next aspect of the table I need to think about which is the napkins.


I have used both paper and fabric napkins. If I like the pattern, then I am fine using paper. I also consider if I should use napkin rings or not. If there are going to be a lot of people and platters of food around the table, then I don’t like to use them.

Guests never seem to know what to do with them once they remove the napkin from the ring. Once they are off, I get up and go around the table to remove them so they don’t take up any precious table space where drink glasses or candles can go.

fall berries on wire wrapped around a wood handle to make a fall dinner napkin ring.

I had fun coming up with ideas on how to make napkin rings using the seed berry garland I bought at Hobby Lobby.

To make the napkin ring, I wound the garland a few times around the handle of a pizza cutter.

Fall colored Berry wire from Hobby Lobby used to make napkins rings for a Thanksgiving table place setting.

Then slid it over a loosely folded napkin that I made with brown and white gingham fabric.

fall berries on wire wrapped around a cardboard tube to make a fall dinner napkin ring.

But as I mentioned above, I play around with different ideas. Instead of using the smaller pizza cutter handle, I wound the garland around a paper towel tube.

I cut the excess off, curled the cut ends so they wouldn’t leave a sharp edge.

Looking down at a Thanksgiving place setting in a rustic style.

This created a napkin ring that easily slid over a loosely folded napkin. Decisions…decisions.

I am sure you can come up with a few ideas yourself on how to use the seed berry garland. It’s a fun process experimenting with the styling of your table ware until you like what you see.

brown and white gingham napkin tied with burlap ribbon and a metal acorn jingle bell on wood look dinner plate.

After playing around with the seed berry garland, I got the acorn jingle bells out of the package and began to play around with different ways to use them on the table.

My first idea was to tie it onto a place card, but they were too big. Then I simply tied it onto a piece of burlap ribbon to make a jingling napkin ring.

Thanksgiving Table setting idea transforming a brown grocery bag into a modern rustic round table placemat.

I have even made napkin rings once using paper bags. Don’t overlook anything you can get at a craft store or already have in your house to repurpose for your needs.

Table place setting of a white dinner plate layered with a fork, knife and spoon tied with brown ribbon.

One year instead of using a napkin and ring on the plate, I placed the utensils on the plate and tied them together with ribbon.

Dining Table Centerpieces

Centerpieces are another thing I don’t obsess over when setting my Thanksgiving table. When placed in the center of the table before everyone sits down, a centerpiece can make the table look nice and every home decorating catalog has them and they do look dreamy.

round table cloth that is made by connecting runners of fabric.

But once the turkey platter is placed on the center of the table, you have to remove the centerpiece. No one cares about it, as all eyes are on the food.

Thanksgiving table setting ideas

This is why I pay more attention to each place setting since they stay on the table throughout the meal. I prefer to place a tall candle at each end of the table with the turkey platter in the center of the table.

Place Cards

When it is just family, you may think that there is no need to use place cards at each place setting. However, I like to use them as they not only make everyone around the table feel special, but they make the overall look of the table more polished.

Fall & Thanksgiving free printable place cards, brown and white gingham fabric scissors and hole punch gathered on a table.

I have made many Table Setting Place Cards over the years like the one I cut up above to use again this year.

Affordable entertaining idea for setting a table with unique place cards that you place on dinner plates. Your guests will want to take them home.

One of my favorite table setting place cards is a free printable plate banner I made. It can be printed out on any color paper. Get it here: Free Printable Plate Banner Place Card.


Looking down at a Thanksgiving place setting in a rustic style.

I have three sets of utensils and a few different styles of wood and bone handled knives. My everyday utensils, fancy monogrammed silver utensils and more modern hammered silver utensils that were both hand-me-downs from my husband’s family.

I spent about an hour playing with different ways to style my Thanksgiving table place settings this year.

If you like to make your holiday table look festive, I hope seeing what I do gives you ideas and inspiration to play with your plates, dishes, china, napkins and utensils and other items you find to come up with new ways to style your Thanksgiving table to make it look inviting for your family and guests this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving table place setting in browns and white. Text overlay says Easy Thanksgiving Table Setting Ideas not to miss!

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  1. Peggy McDonald says:

    I just love your table decor. We have already celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving so I have to try to remember for next year. Very cosy and warm looks you come up with. Just love them. Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Peggy – I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. I always forget that Canada celebrates the holiday earlier than in the states.

  2. You are so creative! I have reread this post four times today. Love everything. You need to write a book😍. Your creative energy is always amazing!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi June – Thank you so much. I did write a decorating book back in 1994. I never thought about writing one just on table settings. It would be a fun book to write as I love setting tables more than any other decorative thing I do around my house.

  3. I love the acorn jingle bells and the wood look plates!! Very Fall and festive 😊
    You’re so right about simplicity for the centerpiece We need the room for that turkey!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lynn – When I was in Hobby Lobby I had no intention of buying anything but Christmas fabric. When I saw the acorn jingle bells though, I had to get them as I love jingle bells of all types.