How to Set a Semi-formal Thanksgiving Table with informal stuff. Use your everyday dinnerware and decorative items from around your home to set the festive holiday table of your dreams! 

How to Set a Semi Formal Thanksgiving Table

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I’m popping in today with some tips for decorating your semi-formal Thanksgiving table using your everyday dinnerware and items from around your home. To make this task even quicker, I’m also sharing a free Informal Tablesetting Cheat Sheet PDF that we can both refer back to every year! #whichsidedoestheforkgoonagain

Download Informal Tablesetting Cheat Sheet



thanksgiving table - place cards

 As a blended family with busy, grown children, that also shares custody of our younger children, we celebrate Thanksgiving twice – once on Thanksgiving day and usually the week before. We often invite friends to join us and have affectionately named this day Ca-Merican Thanksgiving, combining my Canadian traditions with My American hubby’s. Our family looks forward to this celebration every year. This year was even more special as my bestie of 33 years was visiting from Canada. This girl and I go waaaaay back and will forever be friends if for no other reason then to protect our secrets. #SheKnowsTooMuch
knockitoffkim - besties visit
We enjoyed a hectic visit with all kinds of shenanigans and even managed to fit in an overnight road trip! Her response to everything we saw in Washington DC? “I thought it would be bigger.” Just like a Canadian.
thanksgiving table -left side
Finally, Ca-Merican Thanksgiving arrived, and it suddenly occurred to my foggy brain that I hadn’t given three seconds of thought to my Thanksgiving table decorations. #alottawine #stillrecovering
thanksgiving table centerpiece
I know – the world would not end if I didn’t have a perfect table-setting, but my blog brain doesn’t work like that.No doubt you can relate! But what if you don’t have the tablecloth/charger/fine-China/Crystal wine glasses/etc., but still want to set a semi-formal table? Use what you have!

How to set a Semi-formal Thanksgiving Table (with informal stuff)

Add a tablecloth

thanksgiving table - runner

I found this runner last spring on clearance at Home Goods – it’s me to a “T” with lots of color and pattern.
thanksgiving table - length view
My tablecloth is another matter altogether. Whether you have a 10 feet long table such as this or are putting together multiple tables, I’ve yet to find an affordable cover that will fit. This year, I used curtains panels and layered them on top of one another. Here are some other ideas for runners and cloths:
  • bed sheets
  • blankets
  • long scarves
  • unfinished fabric
  • wrapping paper
  • craft and scrapbook paper

Make a centerpiece

thanksgiving table - centerpiece

thanksgiving table - centerpiece 1


Make a centerpiece of several colored pumpkins, both real and faux fabric, dollar store tealight candles, and glass bottles filled with 2-3 stems of faux flowers and eucalyptus stems. Even better? Use Fresh flower stems! Other centerpiece ideas:

  • A single row of lit candles
  • seasonal fruit
  • flowers laid out in a row, interspersed with candles or tealights

Pick a charger – or not

thanksgiving table

You don’t need a charger, but they give an additional layer of depth to the table. Find metallic chargers at Walmart or the dollar store for $.98 apiece during the holidays. I use these gold chargers for pretty much everything – they are a classic look that works for many occasions. Other charger ideas:
  • placemats
  • wrapping paper
  • cardstock or even fabric


thanksgiving table - napkin with leaf sprig
I almost always use real fabric napkins to up the fancy-meter, no matter what else is on my table – paper plates, plastic plates, etc. If you don’t have any hanging around, you can achieve a fun look by layering paper napkins, folding a cocktail napkin over a dinner. Napkins rings are elegant when you tie a colorful piece of bakers twine or ribbon around your napkin.

Add your dishes

thanksgiving table - plate with charger

Place your Soup Bowl, Salad Plate, and Dinner Plate on a charger. Not serving soup? Skip the soup bowl. Serving coffee? Set a cup and saucer out. Go eclectic by mixing and matching your dinnerware instead of making them all the same.
thanksgiving table-eclectic plates
One of my favorite looks is to set a white dinner plate with a patterned or colored dessert or salad plate. In the past, I have used formal style plastic plates as well as disposable plates. I do have a set of China, but I only have eight place settings. To get around that, I used my everyday white dinnerware and alternated the plate patterns. Just go with it – An eclectic table can be fun and beautiful!
 thanksgiving table-feature
No matter what you’re using, you can up the elegance factor by setting your table correctly. Here’s a free cheat-sheet that you can download after subscribing to my newsletter. No spamming, I promise!
Download Informal Tablesetting Cheat Sheet
 thanksgiving tablescape
Although it was unplanned, our Ca-Merican Thanksgiving table was beautiful and festive. With just a little bit of creativity and a few minutes, yours can be too! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by your besties and all of those you love!
knock it off kim get the look


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