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Thanksgiving table ideas to impress your guests

An event stylist shows us how to cook up place settings with yum factor that will rival the turkey

When it comes to the Thanksgiving table, the food could be considered half of the experience. Other key ingredients include the table setting itself, family, and friends. On the eve of the big meal, event stylist (Jeune Amour Events) and interior designer (Twelve Chairs) Courtney Webster shows us some easy, non-traditional ways to dress the table for the event. (Next week we also took a look at the loft she shares with her husband in Providence, Rhode Island.)

But first, she has some rules of thumb that help her navigate the tablescape landscape.

Let the environment, not the holiday trappings, inspire your table setting

Webster says that many people let the holiday rather than their surroundings dictate the decor. "You don’t have to take the theme too literally," she says. "Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be pumpkins and cornucopias—that color scheme might not work with your place."

Draw inspiration from what you have

"If you begin with things you already have, it saves a lot of time and energy," Webster says. "It’s a lot harder starting from scratch." She suggests using something you own as a the base or keystone of a tablescape. "Anything can be built upon," she says. "You might start with an antique vase or a beautiful tray and go from there. I always say that if you have one thing you really love, you probably have 18 other things that match."

The biggest meal of the year doesn’t need to be the fanciest

For many of us, Thanksgiving dinner is the largest spread we will assemble in 12 months. That doesn’t mean it has to be the most elaborate. "You can make a nice table with adorable paper plates and coordinating napkins," Webster says. "The point is to create a table that’s inviting and that your guests will enjoy."

With those thoughts in mind, Webster created three different table looks for us.

Nature mingles with manmade on this table with flatware from West Elm, napkins from Pottery Barn, etched glasses and a wallhanging from Anthropologie, and copper mugs from Sur la Table.

1. Bohemian metallic

Webster started with a table runner she loves to use (it’s actually a wallhanging from Anthropologie). She decided to use her copper mugs (normally the vessel for Moscow Mule cocktails) for wine. "I liked the way they picked up the wood tones in the table," she says. "Plus it gives me another way to use this trendy accessory."

She upped the glimmer ante with copper flatware; and then added a soft foil with blue-green eucalyptus foliage and matching napkins.

This table setting mixes glamour with rusticity. Agate coasters are from Etsy, flatware and plates are from Target, glasses and candlesticks are vintage.

2. Blue + brass

"I have a collection of vintage brass candlesticks, and I wanted to use them on the table without having it appear too formal," Webster says. She married the candlesticks with a more streamlined table setting by using gold leaf to decorate the edges of agate coasters she purchased on Etsy. "The result is something that’s a bit more rustic than glam," she says.

In order to expand the natural wood look, Webster added a wood-handled knife to her setting. The knives are from West Elm, the rest of the flatware is from Ikea. The wood chargers are from Terrain, and the plates and glasses are from Target.

3. Go with the grain

Webster says that natural wood chargers make this table top "interesting" and "totally different." She says she paired the scalloped pieces with a white linen tablecloth to make the table feel lighter and brighter. "To me, this is the most casual and family friendly scene," she says. A napkin adds a touch of color and pattern.

Webster says the time spent on setting the table pays off in atmosphere. "It sets the whole tone for the event," she says. "In a way, it dictates what kind of gathering you want it to be."

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