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Ideas for the perfect Thanksgiving tablescape on a budget

Whether you’re a first-time host or veteran dinner party aficionado, Thanksgiving can be stressful. Having to welcome handfuls of guests – family or friends – into your home to indulge in a massive feast with the expectation of being flawlessly plated and impeccably set can be unnerving, let alone taxing, and not to mention costly. It’s almost like this holiday is the grand prix of gatherings. Traditional festivities warrant a big meal, a lot of prep (cleaning and cooking-wise), and an inviting environment which can be particularly expensive.

As the host, you may not be tasked with providing every classic dish or inspired drink, but the price can still be steep for what you’ve been assigned. The food by itself is a lot of money, factoring in all the little seasonings and garnishes that give flavour to the meal. On top of that, the entertainer is required to present a suitable table setting, with cutlery, dishes, glasses, napkins, and decor. If you aren’t the usual accommodator within your bunch, you may not have all the fixings for a charming spread, resulting in the pressure to go out and buy what you don’t have. But even if you desire an ornate aesthetic, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to achieve it.

Here’s how to make your Thanksgiving table look lush for less

Pick a colour scheme

Before you start to compile a long list of little trinkets and silverware, come up with a colour scheme for your table. The best way to make your display appear lavish is to ensure everything is cohesive. From the tablecloth to the taper candles, everything on the surface and around it in the dining room or kitchen should follow a specific theme.

The obvious choice is to go with a palette motivated by the fall season – red, burnt orange, white, brown, and gold. However, thinking outside the ordinary can actually help to make your table feel more original and ritzier, leaving your guests with a fresh taste.

For a modern vibe, a monochrome arrangement is fitting. A black and white combination with pops of silver hues thrown in there may seem dull, but the food will add the perfect amount of vibrance to complement the simplicity of the pattern. Additionally, brown and gold are two great colours to mix in with an all-white setting if that’s all you have.

Grab a base sheet

Contrary to a rustic ambience, the only tablecloth you need is a plain sheet. Opting for a plaid or patterned pick can make your table setting look busier than it should be. Of course, if the only tablecloth you have has a design, use it, and don’t buy a new one, but ensure the rest of the table is plated in simple, solid colours.

However, to achieve that clean-cut, upscale feel, you should only use a neutral cloth to layer under the dishes. For anyone that doesn’t have a fancy garment to use, a flat sheet works just as well, and the thrift store sells them for as low as 99 cents. A textured table runner strewn across will also add just the right amount of maturity.

Low centrepieces and autumn blooms

“Set the table with low arrangements allowing guests to have conversations across the table. Small silver cups are the perfect vessel for this type of posey arrangement. Fill the cups with a mix of autumnal hues including berries and leaves,” CeCe Barfield, interior designer and founder of CeCe Barfield Inc, told Vogue.

Don’t overthink the centre of the table. Aside from the delectable dishes that will fill space between loaded plates, you don’t need much other than a few spirited outdoor picks. Neutral branches or green stems with orange petals scattered about is all you need. Regardless of what you choose to help evoke a sense of alleviation and warmth, use what you have because there’s no need to try and emulate a fall setting with anything other than what you have outside the walls of your home.

Warm lighting and quiet dimension

The ideal Thanksgiving setting should ease guests with feelings of tranquility – the design is meant to celebrate what we’re thankful for and the best way to honour blessings is in a peaceful manner. That said, lighting is the easiest way to control this. No one wants to sit under a flood of bright white light that can often feel louder than conversations. The light should juxtapose any noise and encourage serenity.

This means you may not even need your overhead fixtures on. Instead, use taper candles or tealight ones and place them around the table or in between plates for a subtle glow. Wax candles are generally pretty cheap, especially the single-use ones. String lights can be used too if that’s what you have, but only cascade them strategically so the setting isn’t packed with too much.

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