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a modern + colorful thanksgiving table

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When it comes to holiday decorations, classic is great, but I’m personally a HUGE fan of non-traditional color palettes. Maybe it’s because of my job, or maybe because I just want to be different, but the typical brown/orange/burgundy Thanksgiving color scheme just isn’t my jam. So many people feel STUCK with it because it’s what they’ve always known or it’s what most people do (or, be honest, because the hand-me-downs from your mom are all in those colors).

Allow me to free you from the cornucopia prison you’ve made for yourself! If you have a color palette in your house that you love, you don’t have to abandon it for the holidays.

Last week we shared our in a hurry holiday dining room makeover, and today I’m going to show you how we set and styled the table for Thanksgiving. The color palette is definitely non-traditional here – mustard, blush, and white – it totally works!

One thing you’re going to notice here that is different from probably any other blog you’ll read on the topic – this table is NOT going to be full of 1000 decorative pumpkins. It is going to have room for actual dishes to serve food. Because Thanksgiving is nothing without food. If you love pumpkins and have people serve themselves in the kitchen or buffet, feel free to adjust accordingly!

Before you go buy a single thing, take a look at what you have in your kitchen and around your house. The point isn’t to buy all new, it’s to take the colors you already love (and therefore probably have) and work them onto your table in a way that still feels festive and seasonal. If you do decide to go shopping, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to shop the look!

Now that you’ve taken stock, start with a runner. I always feel like a standard 6’ runner is too short for most tables, since you want a bout a foot or so hanging off either end. An easy trick is to just buy 2 and overlap them in the middle. I went with a mustard runner here since most of the dishes we’d be working with are blush and white (because I was smart and took an inventory first!!). That gives us some contrast and a good solid foundation to build from. You could also go for a tablecloth if that’s more your speed.

The next step is probably the most critical – height. The most interesting tablescapes have lots of different heights and layers going on. We have a tall vase, a low platter, tall candleholders, medium cake stand, low trays, etc. That undulation of up and down along the table makes it so interesting to look at and moves your eye around the room. Our client’s mom when she came in to see the table said “there are so many pretty things to look at my eye just doesn’t want to stop!” That’s the goal! You want to lead people’s eyes around the room by moving them up and down over different heights.

Fresh flowers and greenery are always a special treat and are another way to drive your color scheme home. How gorgeous are these tulips, you guys?!

Same with candles and candleholders. White candles are always appropriate, but think about bringing in an unexpected color to tie in your color palette. Make sure they’re unscented to not get in the way of all the yummy food!

Now for dishes. Our client had this really cute set of white Thanksgiving dishes, but if you look really close you can see that the mustard and blush colors show up in there. That was a happy find to be sure! They are from World Market a few years back. The white plates, pink glass pitcher, and pumpkin tray are all from IKEA! We mixed them in with these everyday pink bowls, ready to be piled high with mashed potatoes. What, that’s not what you do with bowls?! Weird.

Hot tip: I always set my table at least 3 days before Thanksgiving, and I lay out every single serving dish I’m going to use to make sure there is room for it at the table. I put a notecard in each with what will go inside of it so I don’t have to use any brain power for this when I start cooking. You can read more of my nerdy low-stress Thanksgiving tips here, because I have like a thousand.

I think it’s important whenever you can to have some vintage pieces in the mix. They add character and history into the mix, and even better if you can bring out family heirloom pieces, especially at the holidays. The pink pitcher, mustard vase, drinking glasses, and pink plates are all thrifted finds.

There you have it! A totally non-traditional Thanksgiving table that still feels Thanksgiving-y. I was kicking myself at the end of this for not bringing my collection of blush, mustard, and gold bottle brush trees which would have been PERFECT, but that will be for another post. 😉

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, but not to worry, we only recommend products we know, use, and love! You can view our full disclosure policy here.


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