How to Create a Beautiful Thanksgiving Table for 8, 6, and 4 People!
Updated: Oct 30, 2022
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wanted to share a few table decor ideas for different sized gatherings. Namely, eight, six and four guests. One aspect of this stemmed from a dilemma I often face: How do you create a table setting for eight people, when you may only possess dinnerware for six? This prompted me to think about how to stretch what you actually have, in order to cater for a larger number. In addition, I considered this concept in reverse. Table settings for more intimate gatherings at Thanksgiving - with six or four friends and family - can look just as beautiful as a setting for eight!
When I started planning each setting, I realized that I wanted to go into greater detail about the color schemes, how to mix and match dinnerware, and how to adjust the table decor. Thus, I decided to organize this post into three parts. All the photos are original and were taken by me. Part I is below. Click here for Part II, and here for Part III.
*Posts on DecorRefresh.com may contain affiliate links. Please read the full disclosure policy here. Where relevant, I have provided links to products below each photo. Where the original product is no longer available, I have provided links to similar products.
Part I: A Modern Farmhouse Table Setting for 8
1. Choose a Color Scheme
Nature's colors are incredibly beautiful, especially in the Fall. I adore the oranges, reds, and subtle shades of gold, and love using these colors in my home for decor and furnishings.
In the photo below, you can see a breakfast room dining table with Fall decor, before I added any other elements.
The bold Jacobean floral-patterned slipcovers on the side chairs were a great find on Amazon. They’re so pretty and practical! Those, together with the navy blue hostess chairs, set the backdrop for the colors I wanted to bring in via my dinnerware and other decoration.
2. Add a Floral Centerpiece
My Fall floral centerpiece turned out wonderfully! A large white ginger jar, and two equally sizeable glass hurricanes, act as anchors for my table arrangement. The majority of the floral stems are from HomeGoods, while the tall red hazel leaf stems came from Target. I mixed those with some green stems I already had (purchased from IKEA and Afloral).
Along the table, I snaked two orange mini leaf garlands around the glass hurricanes and the ginger jar, added three pumpkin LED candles (sold out at Target at the time of writing this post), and a pack of pumpkin vase fillers. Finally, I finished off the arrangement with three mini ceramic pumpkins from At Home. Below the photo, I have provided links to similar stems that may work for you.
Product Sources: White Ginger Jar | Large Glass Hurricane x 2 (similar 14 inch x 8 inch) | Burgundy Hydrangea Stem x 3 | Golden Sunflower Stem (similar) | Tall Red Hazel Leaf Stem x 3 | Mini Fall Garland x 2 | Decorative Pumpkin (similar but not LED) | Gold Decorative LED Pumpkin | Pumpkin Vase Fillers x 1 | White Ceramic Pumpkin with Gold Leaf x 3 |
3. Mix and Match Dinnerware Elements
Over the years, I’ve acquired several sets of dinnerware. Most are in shades of green and aqua blue. Fortunately, these colors work nicely with the oranges and golds of my floral centerpiece and table decor.
Through use, some of the pieces in each dinnerware set have cracked, chipped, or broken. So, even though I have three different sets, I don't have eight of any single design, except for eight soup bowls of one specific pattern! I have a feeling I’m not on my own on this. Rather than buy a new tableware service for eight people, I decided to use my three different sets in a more creative way.
Taking four dinner plates and four side plates of two different designs, and alternating the patterns as I went, I then added my eight soup bowls for each place setting.
Most of the dinnerware pieces seen here are available on eBay (links below the photo). In fact, if you need to replace individual elements of any set, chances are they will be available on eBay, or a company called Replacements.
Dinnerware Product Sources: Bonjour Fruitful Nectar 10" Dinner Plate x 4 (currently out of stock) | Bonjour Fruitful Nectar 8" Salad Plate x 4 | Country Vine Salad Plate x 4 | Country Vine Dinner Plate x 4 | Bonjour Fruitful Nectar Soup Bowls x 4 | 222 Fifth Eliza Spring Turquoise Dinnerware (similar to Bonjour Fruitful Nectar) | Threshold Set of 4 Cotton Floral Napkins x 2 | Threshold Mini Eucalyptus Stems x 8 |
If you already have dinnerware with beautiful autumnal colors, then your mix and match arrangement may look a little like the table settings below. The key to a cohesive color scheme, is to pick one color - say, orange - and then try to get coordinating or complementary pieces. It’s fine to mix patterns a little, but too much pattern and no solid colors (or white), can look a little overwhelming.
Dinnerware Product Sources:
Left Image: Pfaltzgraff French Lace Dinnerware Set, 16 Piece (Green) | Certified International Autumn Harvest 16 Piece Dinnerware Set | Maison d' Hermine Dinner Napkins (Jardin du Roy) | Maison d'Hermine Dinner Napkins (Amarante)
Right Image: Pfaltzgraff Autumn Berry 16 Piece Dinnerware Set | White Gold-Rimmed Bone China 16 Piece Dinnerware Set | | Maison d'Hermine Dinner Napkins (Palatial Paisley) | Maison d'Hermine Dinner Napkins (Amarante)
4. Select Table Runners, Placemats, and Dinner Napkins
As with the dinnerware, I didn't have a set of eight of anything (I don't even own a table runner!). So, again, I decided to try a different approach.
I had a set of six off-white dinner napkins with a very pretty block-print border. These came from World Market many years ago. Also, I had four floral-patterned napkins purchased from Pier One. Taking stock, I decided I didn't actually need a table runner, and that I could use the set of six napkins as placemats.
In the meantime, I spotted some very pretty dinner napkins at Target, and as the price was so reasonable, I bought two packs! So, for the hostess table settings at either end of the table, I used the Target napkins as placemats, and they worked perfectly!
5. Glassware and Flatware
I adore vintage wine glasses, and opted for two types, taken from a set of six, and a set of seven. Once again, I chose four of each design, and alternated between the different etched patterns.
Fortunately, when it came to stainless steel flatware, I had two packs containing four place settings. I considered buying new gold (powder-coated titanium) flatware for this project, however, I am not yet convinced of the quality, practicality, or value-for-money of most of the gold flatware currently available. The pieces I used may not be opulent, but I think they look elegant with all the other elements in place.
Note: Some of the links to products (below) are to search results on eBay.
6. Add Table Adornments
Most of the table decor items you see in the photos are from Target. Target has some incredibly beautiful Fall decor at amazing prices. The mini eucalyptus stems (each one comes with a cute little orange berry) were a great buy. I wasn't sure how I would use these at first, but bought them anyway, because I loved their delicate design. Equally irresistible, was a matching mini eucalyptus garland (see Part II of my post), orange LED pumpkins, an orange leaf garland, and pumpkin vase fillers. I thought I might return some of these items to the store, but ended up keeping and using everything!
7. Sitting Down to Thanksgiving Dinner
A tall vase, with a beautiful floral arrangement, may be wonderful to look at before you sit down to dinner. However, it is far from perfect when you are at the table and want to have a conversation with people sitting across from you!
So, I had the idea that the floral centerpiece, and the two large glass hurricanes on either side, could be removed just before dinner was served. The space could then be filled with three smaller and simpler hurricane candle holders. Of course, you can start with this arrangement in the first place, but I thought it would be so beautiful to have a large and colorful focal point to begin with!
8. Happy Thanksgiving!
I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday, and hope that you have found some useful tips in this post. You may find additional inspiration in Part II and Part III of my article on Thanksgiving table settings.
Part II: An Elegant Thanksgiving Table Setting for 6
In Part I, I shared my ideas on how to create a beautiful Thanksgiving table setting for eight, using mix and match dinnerware. Now, I'd like to adapt those ideas for a gathering of six, and show you how I rearranged my table for an equally elegant look.
The photos for this setting were taken in a more 'formal' dining room, with more traditional dining furniture (from Ethan Allen), with a 'French Country' look and feel. In this setting, the dinnerware elements are more or less the same as in Part I, but the end result, in my opinion, is somewhat more traditional, and a little more refined. Let me know if you agree!
1. Blue and Green Color Scheme
My inspiration for this table arrangement comes from the toile fabric that covers my dining chairs. In truth, I am always drawn to the soft hues of blue and green, as you see in the photos. I also love the delicate pattern of my 'Country Vine' dinnerware, a design that is both timeless and versatile. This ‘crockery’ travelled with me all the way from England! Fortunately, it is also available in the US from eBay.
2. White Centerpiece
For this more formal setting, I placed a white stoneware soup tureen and a pair of vintage candle holders along the center of the table. I then added a few subtle Fall decor pieces around them.
The soup tureen was unearthed on eBay many years ago, and I think it cost $25 at the time. About a week after I bought it, I saw a very similar one in a local kitchenware store for $100!
There are some really beautiful pieces to be found on both eBay and Etsy, if you have the time to search for them! If I didn't own the soup tureen below, I would be seriously tempted to get this white swan soup tureen on eBay!
3. Mix and Match Dinnerware
In the photo below, you can see that each place setting has a 'Country Vine' dinner plate, and a matching salad plate. The soup bowl is from a different set by Bonjour, called 'Fruitful Nectar'. I like the shape and color of this bowl, and it’s such a good match with the 'Country Vine' pieces.
Dinnerware Product Sources: | Country Vine Dinner Plate x 6 | Country Vine Salad Plate x 6 | Bonjour Fruitful Nectar Soup Bowls x 4 | Threshold Set of 4 Cotton Floral Napkins x 2 (good match for Country Vine)| Threshold Mini Eucalyptus Stems x 6 |
Here are two alternative dinnerware patterns I would highly recommend for a formal setting. Both are from 222 Fifth. I discovered these in HomeGoods many years ago, but didn't buy anything at the time, because they didn't have enough of each piece. Fortunately, they are both
now available at Amazon.
Either of these sets would match really well with plain white or white and gold dinnerware. The teal set above is called ‘Eliza', and the set on the right is called 'Peacock Garden'. Both come as 16-piece sets. Click on the pictures to go to the relevant Amazon page, or click on the links below.
Dinnerware Product Sources: 222 Fifth Eliza Spring Turquoise 16-Piece Set | 222 Fifth Peacock Garden 16-Piece Set | White Gold-Rimmed Bone China 16 Piece Dinnerware Set
4. Using Dinner Napkins as Placemats
For this table setting, I could have purchased some new placemats, or used a set of six oval-shaped woven seagrass mats I already owned. However, I decided to use a set of World Market dinner napkins, and partially draped them over the edge of the table. The napkins under the soup bowls were a recent find at HomeGoods.
Overall, I tried to keep the colors for each table setting within the same color family, and to add a flash of orange with my table adornments. By the way, if you have an antique table that needs to be better protected from hot dinner plates, then please use a more heat-resistant placemat or tablecloth option instead!
5. Flatware and Glassware
I recently researched gold cutlery (powder-coated titanium), with the idea of using it for my table setting. However, after reading numerous reviews, I decided against it. Instead, I used stainless steel flatware that is not only dishwasher safe, but also looks great in most settings.
My crystal goblets came from a vintage store several years ago. They are absolutely beautiful, and I try to use them as often as I can! I always seem to spot gorgeous (and irresistible) pieces of glassware whenever we are browsing in vintage stores!
6. Table Adornments
Continuing with the overall green-hued theme for this arrangement, I decided to use two mini eucalyptus garlands, intertwining them around the centerpiece and the candle holders. I also placed a few orange pumpkin vase fillers (but not too many) and three white ceramic pumpkins along the display.
The individual mini eucalyptus stems (see earlier photo) placed at the side of each bowl, are probably my favorite pieces, and really complete the table decor in a cohesive way. You can almost taste the creamy Butternut Squash soup!
Product Sources: Mini Eucalyptus Garland x 2 | Mini Eucalyptus Stems x 6 | Pumpkin Vase Fillers x 1 | White Ceramic Pumpkin with Gold Leaf x 3 | Vintage Pair of Candle Holders | Vintage Candle Holders (Etsy USA)
7. Buffet Table Decor and Lighting
As for the decor behind the dining table - including wall art, lamps, mirrored buffet and objet d’art - it adds a somewhat glam backdrop to this table setting.
The mirrored buffet came from Horchow many years ago, and is still available through various sellers. The table lamps are wonderfully elegant, and work in so many situations. Oh, and I cherish the blue and white quails bought from an Etsy seller some time ago! They’re by ‘Andrea by Sadek’, and can be found on eBay or Etsy.
Product Sources: Borghese Mirrored Buffet | Smaller Mirrored Buffet | Safavieh Greek Key Table Lamps | Gold Embellished Wine Goblets (similar) | Gold Metal Mirrored Tray | Blue and White Ceramic Quails | 9" Blue and White Ginger Jar | Artificial White Hydrangea Stems (12 Pieces) | Gold and Blue Framed Canvas Wall Art (36" x 47")
8. Final Touches
Light the candles and enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you've found a few useful tips in Part II of my post. If you didn't read Part I about a table setting for eight guests, you can read that here. If you would like to see my ideas adapted to a table for four, read Part III here.
Part III: A Fun Thanksgiving Table Setting for 4
In Part I and Part II of my post, I showed how individual elements of a dinnerware set could be used in different ways. In Part III, I am using slightly different pieces to create a more relaxed, but equally beautiful ambience.
1. Setting the Scene
The glass-top table in the photo below, has been with us since our first apartment over two decades ago! It was the perfect size for our small space, and great for cozy dinners and memorable conversations with friends. Occasionally, we even managed to seat six people around it! The wicker chairs and cushions, a more recent update, complete the more 'laid-back' feel of this room.
2. A Calming Color Scheme
If you have already read the previous sections of this post, you’ll be familiar with the use of greens and blues in my decor choices. The table setting below is similarly in harmony with the colors you see outside as winter approaches.
3. A Fun and Frivolous Centerpiece
The off-white fabric pumpkin sitting on top of a floral wreath, was a last-minute find at HomeGoods! I've used it here as a centerpiece, but it can also be placed in any number of spaces in the home. It is small enough to fit on a marble decorative tray in the middle of the table. The tray itself doubles up as a heat-resistant surface for a soup tureen later on!
4. Dinnerware Elements
The dinner plates and side plates, as well as the round woven seagrass placemats, are all from IKEA. The soup bowls are from a different manufacturer, and are available on eBay. The napkins and mini eucalyptus stems are from Target. And I added a few mini pumpkin vase fillers (also Target) around the delightful fabric pumpkin! Stainless-steel flatware, and wine glasses, complete each place setting.
Dinnerware Product Sources: IKEA Dinner Plate (Set of 4 Light Turquoise) | IKEA Side Plate (Set of 4 Light Turquoise) | Hampton 'Optimum' Flatware Set | Natural Seagrass Place Mat x 4 | Mini Eucalyptus Stems x 4 |
5. Finishing Touches
Adding candlelight (and music) always helps to soothe the senses. My hubby is usually in charge of music (he has better taste lol!), and I provide the light. In this case, the pair of candle holders depicted below, were an affordable find at an antiques fair. And although quite delicate, they work well with all the other elements on this table, and bring a little flair to proceedings!
6. Time to Give Thanks
Thank you for reading my post, especially if you were brave enough to tackle all three parts! I hope you found some useful tips for your table design. Now, it’s time to relax in those comfortable wicker chairs, replace the pumpkin with the soup tureen, light the candles, and pour the wine!
Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all!