7 Tips for Setting a Beautiful Table

Williamsburg home stylist Cindy Cragg shows us how to make each Thanksgiving place setting special with easy, harvest-inspired ideas.


+ enlarge image Pinecone Card Holder
  • Color reigns supreme. With all the wonderful hues of the harvest season, make sure to layer in a good punch of color at every place setting. "Just like with china and stemware, table linens don't have to match," Cragg says. Mix it up by picking three of your favorite fall colors and incorporating them differently at each setting.
  • Create a glow. Floating tea lights in partially filled stemware is a wonderful alternative to candles on the table. "I love the effect of amber or emerald colored stemware for this purpose," Cragg says. "When nestled in with other glasses, the light from the stemware creates the perfect seasonal glow."
  • Collect fall foliage. Layer an array of red, yellow, and orange leaves around the edge of a charger, or simply place leaves underneath the perimeter of the largest plate at each place setting. "This organic look adds just the right touch of the season," Cragg says.
  • Use your gourd. Small gourds of all colors make wonderful vessels for food. After hollowing out the inside, let the gourd dry before inserting a small bowl to fill with a side dish. "This is a really fun and festive way to serve a first course, like soup, which would already be on the table when your guests sit down," Cragg says.
  • Pick some pinecones. "The color is right, the texture is great, and these guys are perfect for holding on to something," Cragg says. Use the layers of the pinecones' prickly scales to hold place cards. For a different twist, Cragg suggests writing a word or two about what you're thankful for about each guest to place at his or her seat.
  • Add some organic flair. Dress up your silverware for the season with a little raffia and a magnolia leaf. Just roll your silverware up in a napkin, bind with raffia, and insert one magnolia leaf into the raffia tie. The glossy, green color of the magnolia will easily coordinate with napkins of any color.
  • Incorporate fall crops. Tuck a few wheat stalks into candlesticks for an interesting decoration -- and to add height to individual place settings. "A low, wide candleholder made of ceramic or pottery works well to complement the long, rustic look of the wheat cluster," Cragg says.
  • Cindy Cragg is a home stylist and holiday decorator inspired by the truly timeless traditions of colonial Williamsburg. To find more of Cragg's tips, check out Williamsburg Marketplace at www.williamsburgmarketplace.com.

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