Choose a Spot
The first step is to determine where the feast will be held. If your dining room table cannot accommodate your crowd, borrow additional tables or chairs from friends or rent them from an event rental company.
Check Your Supplies
Check all your linens, glassware, tableware, and flatware well before the party to make sure you have everything you need. Purchase, borrow, or rent any items that are missing.
Plan Your Serving Pieces
The day before the event, set out all your serving pieces—carving board, serving platters, serving dishes, and the like—on your buffet or table. Write the name of each menu item on a sticky note or piece of tape and attach it to the appropriate serving platter or dish to remind you of which food goes on each piece. When purchasing new serveware, choose neutral or white pieces. That makes it easy to add to your collection over time and ensures the food takes center stage.
Select the Utensils
Set out the appropriate serving utensils for each item on your menu—such as a fork for the turkey, large spoons or elegant tongs for the side dishes, and a pie server for dessert—so you won’t need to hunt for them at the last minute. Borrow, rent, or purchase items that are missing.
Add a Centerpiece
To make the table look special, select an attractive centerpiece that evokes a holiday theme and creates a focal point for the room. It can be anything from a floral arrangement with autumnal blooms or an heirloom bowl filled with seasonal fruits or vegetables to a slender vase of olive branches or fall berries on the stem. Keep the centerpiece natural and uncomplicated, and avoid too many tall or wide elements that could block sight lines at the table.
Bring in the Outdoors
Visit your local farmers’ market and gather a selection of seasonal fruits, such as persimmons, pomegranates, pears, and quinces. Arrange the fruits in low wooden or ceramic bowls and set them around the room to add a seasonal ambience to your house.
Delight in the Details
Matching place cards in holders, charming salt and pepper shakers, and complementary napkin rings will all help contribute to a streamlined style. If you will be hosting the Thanksgiving meal every year, invest in tabletop elements that can be reused.
Set up a Drinks Bar
Designate an area—a side table or a free countertop—where you can arrange the drinks. Set out glasses, ice, and assorted beverages for family and friends to help themselves.
Light the Room
Use floor lamps, table lamps, and groupings of large candles to create soft, flattering pools of light. Or, create a welcoming glow with tall taper candles placed in elegant silver holders. Mix and match heights but use coordinated candles to create an effortlessly elegant arrangement. Dim or turn off overhead lights.
Add a Special Touch
Thanksgiving celebrations offer the perfect opportunity to add an extra flourish to individual place settings. This could be a little bundle of fragrant herbs or small, lightly scented flowers or a homemade gift that guests can take with them to remind them of the meal.