Thanksgiving is around the corner and I’m really looking forward to it! While our gatherings may be smaller this year, we can still celebrate with stunning decorations that will make the family almost forget we’ve been working, learning, and living in our pajamas for the better half of 2020. Continue on to read how my team and I created a few different tablescapes for last holiday season. Break out the good china (or support a local party planner as we often do), and celebrate all the wonderful moments we’ve had in a time filled with uncertainty.


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Many of you have seen our fall fete and spring soirée get togethers. It’s a great time for the Laura U team to partner with other talented Houston entrepreneurs. We have something akin to a potluck of talents, each of us combining our complementary skill sets to create a one-of-a-kind entertaining experience. (Or maybe it’s an elaborate plan to share a glass of champagne during a mid-week lunch…)

With a new group of guests, my design team and I were blown away by the inspiring set ups. (Pro tip: renting servingware is one of the most ingenious hostess ideas). Each one of us touches the shelter and hospitality industries in some way. From catering to floral design, we all have clients who love to entertain and love to impress their guests. Creating a memorable, inviting atmosphere is something we’re all thinking about this time of year!

Laura Umansky Blair Usnick and Shannon Smith assembling a holiday table

Blair, Shannon, and I assemble our first tablescape – with traditional servingware and eucalyptus garland. Photos by Hannah Swiggard and Leah Wilson.

The Key to an Elegant Thanksgiving Tablescape: Knowing When to Outsource

The first lesson of hosting a great gathering is knowing what you can manage yourself and what you cannot take on. It’s impossible to cook a chef-inspired 4-course meal, assemble a floral arrangement, embroider the linens, decorate the table, AND look camera-ready in the span of a few hours. If this is possible for you, please share that magic with us in the comments below!

But if like me you are juggling a busy season at work and kiddos with busy schedules, then you need a little assistance. For our tablescape decor party, the guest list was a veritable who’s who of the best partymakers in all of Houston. We, of course, had Kelli Bunch as our caterer extraordinaire. Layla Asgari, founder of Joybox Flowers, created the stunning tablescapes. And Elizabeth Whitehead, founder of Your Butler’s Pantry, provided her exceptional (and rentable!) collection of servingware.

Now it’s easy when your guests are also the providers of your entertaining essentials! But it’s just as simple when you know what resources are out there. New to Your Butler’s Pantry, I was amazed at what was possible! From antique serving trays to tapered candles, YBP has everything you could imagine the perfect party to have. Just knowing that they exist, makes your party planning that much simpler.

Hayley Hardcastle of HH Design House assembles a tablescape

Hayley Hardcastle of HH Design House adds a fruit to our table setting. Photos Hannah Swiggard.

Designing Your Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape – Focus on Elegant Essentials

Whether you like to celebrate with traditional fine China or a modern porcelain set, assembling the perfect table does take a little practice. Here are my tips for how to design your perfect Thanksgiving table.

  • Select your china and flatware first. These are the main elements of your place setting and set the tone for your table. Find contrasting tones and textures for visual interest (think china against rattan or gold with oak)
  • Consider the linens. They can incorporate color, texture, or a personal touch (when embroidered or monogrammed) to the design.
  • Add gorgeous florals and candles. For our settings, Layla and her team at Joybox Flowers assembled a rich array of burgundy peonies, delicate ranunculus, and peach-colored roses. My design team interspersed the center of the table with three gilded candelabras and about a dozen tapered candle holders, each at different heights. Even the tapers we selected were a variety of sizes to create visual interest and depth. The cohesion is created in the tonal color scheme of the holders and the candles themselves.
A terrine full of beautiful winter florals is at the center of this tablescape

This gorgeous antique terrine filled with wintry florals is at the center of the table. Photos by Hannah Swiggard and Leah Wilson.

Traditional Thanksgiving Fine China

This Juliska Forest Walk salad plate is so festive! Just looking at it gets us into the holiday spirit. The confetti design on the Pickard Gold Trousdale dinner plate gives the place setting a celebratory touch. I chose the Calaisio rattan round place mats (Your Butler’s Pantry had these on hand, but you can easily find them at Frontgate) to layer texture on my dining table. From Bernhardt, the table’s dark tones provide the perfect contrasting background to vibrant colors and gold accents. A Bodrum Riviera mauve dinner napkin tucked under the salad plate adds a subtle feminine touch. The combination pays homage to the traditional Thanksgiving table while giving it a modern vibe.

Art Deco Inspired

Nodding to Old Hollywood glamour, this Art Deco-inspired table is a fabulous alternative to more traditional settings. After sourcing the Vista Alegre emerald salad plate for a recent client project, I knew it would look gorgeous on a Thanksgiving table. The abstract gold Hillcrest dinner plate is a beautiful contrast to the salad plate’s geometric design. I chose Velo brushed gold flatware for an unexpected touch. Paired with vintage gilded mid-century highball glasses makes this a chic atmosphere, very reminiscent of a Mad Men scene.

Embroidered linens are the perfect personal touch for this table

Embroidered linens from Coley Home are the perfect personal touch atop glamorous Art Deco-inspired Vista Alegre plates. Photos by Hannah Swiggard and Leah Wilson.

Add One-of-a-Kind Linens

Personalized and unique linens are a special touch every Thanksgiving table needs. They make guests feel cared for and ensure your table won’t look like someone else’s. It’s that legacy feel we pursue in all of our interiors. These gorgeous customizable napkins from Coley Home instantly personalize your table. The hand-dyed linen effortlessly blends traditional and modern tabletop settings. They’re perfect for any table and make a great hostess gift!

While every tablescape is different, each one posseses the same characteristics: a rare selection of serving dishes and out-of-this world florals. I’ve assembled some of my favorite tablescape inspiration images from around the web below. You’ll be sure to see the same basic elements in each one.

As we experimented with tablescape decor, my team and I knew we had to focus on these first.

Nature-Inspired Centerpieces

Fresh flowers are a must for me. I never host anything at home without including fresh blooms on the table. A long floral wreath like this one from Joybox Flowers is a great alternative to a traditional table runner. Gather a collection of various size taper candleholders to sprinkle in with the arrangement. Voila, you’ve got a chic Thanksgiving table!

Joybox flower arrangement on Thanksgiving table designed by Laura U

A long floral wreath adds a beautiful touch of color to your table

Elegant Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas

While every tablescape is different, each one posseses the same characteristics: a rare selection of seving dishes and a nature-inspired centerpiece. I’ve assembled some of my favorite tablescape inspiration images from around the web below. You’ll be sure to see the same basic elements in each one.

Modern Thanksgiving tablescape idea with sage green, cream, and navy color palette

I love the combination of sage green with gold and a touch of navy – so chic!

Charming Sights

Borrowed Blu created this Thanksgiving table with their charming Russel Wright Collection in Sage. Soft green hues with cream and a touch of navy make a classic statement. Gold brushed flatware warms the color scheme, bringing a luxe touch to the table. And instead of flowers, fairy tale pumpkins take center stage. This tablescape proves magic happens when you mix contemporary with traditional.

Textured, minimalist Thanksgiving table design from Casa de Perrin

The combination of textures proves a neutral color palette is anything but boring on this Thanksgiving table

Unexpected Textures

Casa de Perrin‘s tablescapes never disappoint! This table is an elegant invitation into the unexpected. It’s equal parts naturalist, minimalist, and pretty in pink. As much as I love the balancing act of colors, the contrast of textures makes this table a showstopper. The place settings work together to beautifully frame the small gourds and candles in the center of the table.

The gorgeous pavé glass chargers paired with concrete dinnerware is unforgettable. Gold and wood flatware warms the cool blue-gray dinnerware. Light pink napkins with gold ribbon and dried flowers soften the place setting.

Thanksgiving table idea with green, cream and metallic candlesticks

A tablescape that captures the beauty of its surroundings

Breath of Fresh Air

This table design by Style Me Pretty featured on Elle Decor offers a sophisticated outdoor Thanksgiving experience. It’s bathed in natural light and fresh air. Colors in the surrounding scenery come to life on the table through the floral arrangements. Tiny gourds and a variety of candlesticks add texture and a punch of fun.

Bright and bold Thanksgiving table design idea using magnolia and citrus

For an unxpected Thanksgiving table design, try fresh citrus and magnolia

Fragrant Magnolia

Apartment 34 founder, Erin Hiemstra, uses fragrant magnolia leaves and citrus fruits in her eclectic table design. White candles and bright floral arrangements nestled in the magnolia add color and texture. Rich aubergine napkins with gold napkin rings bring a luxe touch to mix of dinnerware and glassware. Coordinating chairs give the table a casual, approachable feel.

Setting an Elegant Thanksgiving Tablescape

Your Thanksgiving table is a chance to design a stunning dining experience for your guests. For a traditional look, consider classic china with neutral colors. Ramp up the sophistication and glam with luxurious metallics. Think bold prints or geometric patterns for color and contrast. Don’t be afraid to try on a few styles and see what speaks to you!