Terrific tables

By Debi Neville

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, guest lists and menus seem to be the focus of every host. Table settings can become an afterthought, but the dinner table is a central part of Thanksgiving entertaining, so shake up tradition a bit.

Starting with the tablecloth, buying one for a large table can be expensive. Try using the alternative — curtains. They’re readily available in extended lengths and a variety of colors.

For placemats, try using table runners. They come in a large variety of designs and colors. Just make sure the fabric is washable.


No need for Thanksgiving napkins. Mix and match everyday cloth napkins in coordinating colors. Make napkin rings with sprigs of herbs, a branch of berries or tie with twine for a country look. Inexpensive bracelets and baubles can lend a modern flair.

"Muted, coppery colors are very big this year," said Kari Hanson, co-owner of Creative Custom Floral and Home Decor. "Battery operated candles in a variety of colors, along with gourds and realistic looking fruits can make a homemade centerpiece look wonderful."

Hanson says a full line of dishes, serving pieces and kitchen accessories are available in a wide variety of harvest colors. They can add a bit of kick to the table.

Dishes set the mood. Using some of grandmother’s heirloom china or your favorite aunt’s vintage amber glasses can turn traditional to terrific. If tableware doesn’t fall within the color pallet of fall tones, accessorize with gold. Gold charger plates, dessert plates or flatware can tie everything together and provide the perfect accent.

Home Sweet Home in Stewartville has an abundant supply of Thanksgiving decorations, according to salesperson Connie Hayes.

"We have a lovely assortment of runners, wreaths and garlands to dress up your table for the holiday," she said. "Choosing a theme, whether it is rustic, traditional or modern, will guide your choices."

Putting a memorable holiday together is easier when you include the guests. Have them write something they are grateful for on a leaf-shaped place card. Take a break between dinner and dessert and have the guests read the blessing out loud.

The children’s table is normally a forgotten opportunity to decorate and give the younger ones something to do. Give each child a Thanksgiving paper doll character to color and cut out (with kid friendly scissors) then place it in the center of the table while someone reads the story of the first Thanksgiving.


The finishing touch to any table is the centerpiece. Try a do-it-yourself. Bore out the center of seasonal fruits and vegetables and fill with flowers or candles. Ask the kids to help you fill glass vases with layers of colorful dried legumes. Place a short candle in the middle of the vase and you have a modern take on an overflowing cornucopia. An added plus, the legumes can be recycled along with Thanksgiving left-overs into a hearty soup.

Re-invent a few old standbys when decorating your turkey-day table and let the vibrancy of the season bring warmth to your table.

Debi Neville is a Rochester freelance writer.

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