Home & Garden

Tips for creating the perfect Thanksgiving table

Mix earthy, warm elements to create a welcoming fall-inspired dinner table.
Mix earthy, warm elements to create a welcoming fall-inspired dinner table.

Feelings of gratitude come naturally in autumn, the peak season for ethereal light, rich colors and happy homecomings. This Thanksgiving, play up those elements with a simple yet special table that celebrates great food and close-knit company.

Room for all

Pull up a cushioned bench to a spread of earthly delights. This take on a pared-down Scandinavian scene (no flowers necessary) gets its warmth from raw linen and the glow of beeswax candles. An informal arrangement of mottled gourds, leather-trimmed hurricane lanterns and whole nuts ready for the cracking makes a casually gorgeous centerpiece.

Sources: Pier 1 Holtom Collection natural bench cushion, 35 inches, $50, pier1.com. Sawkille Senate armchair, in American Black Walnut, $2,300, fair-design.com. Amish Gourds assorted clean dried gourds, from $1.25 each, amishgourds.com.

A mindful moment

Greet guests with a new holiday ritual. Stitch patches onto linen napkins — here a green plaid plays up the vintage dinner-plate pattern. Then tuck in a mini pencil and a personalized note, and ask folks to jot something down once they find their seat. It’s a sweet twist on place cards, and it encourages people to pause and reflect before going around the table.

What are you thankful for? Give your guests an opportunity to share their gratitude with this clever napkin craft. Lennart Weibull

Sources: Cutipol Ebony cutlery, $320 for a 24-piece set, cutipol.pt. Il Buco Vita Pienza mouthblown glass tumbler, in Amber, $36; and Assisi appetizer bowl, in Ocra, $85, shop.ilbucovita.com. Bitters Co natural gourd bowls, $8 each, bittersco.com. H&M washed-linen napkin, in Linen Beige, $6, hm.com. Vintage Winterling Bavaria Autumn Harvest Wheat dinner plate.

Rustic redux

To fill your dining room with golden light, group leather-trimmed lanterns holding beeswax pillars. A trio of varied heights is handsome enough to stand in for a flower arrangement, and comes together in minutes from basic materials: leather strips, brass fasteners and glass hurricanes.

Family favorites

A serve-yourself setup feels personal when you bring out pieces in an interesting mix of materials and shapes. Pair curvy pewter and ironstone or ceramic tureens with leggy candlesticks and tiny gourds (which happen to make sweet bottle stoppers). The do-it-yourself leather-handled trivets — made from scraps of the lantern trim and napkin pockets — offer common ground.

Sources: Match oval tureen, $570, match1995.com. Jamali Garden porcelain candlesticks (similar to shown), from $24 for 4, jamaligarden.com.

Let them eat pie! When you send your guests home with a slice or two, include these forks and napkins decorated with fall accents. Lennart Weibull

Fond farewells

Dispatch guests with a sweet, sustainable parting slice. Line premade paper boxes with parchment; serve up the last of your crew’s favorite pies; and garnish with sprigs of wheat, dried or faux berries and raffia. And don’t forget the fork.

Sources: A La Modo deluxe lidded pie slice boxes with forks, from $30 for 25, alamodo.etsy.com. Ashland natural raffia, $6, michaels.com.

How-to: Pocket napkin

Patterned fabric

Fabric scissors


Straight pins

Linen dinner napkin

Sewing supplies

1. Cut out a 4  3/4-by-4-inch piece of patterned fabric, using the selvage as one of the 4 3/4-inch edges.

2. Fold in cut edges of fabric  3/8 inch; iron. Pin to bottom corner of napkin, 1 inch from edges, leaving selvage edge open at top of pocket.

3. Sew pocket onto napkin, using contrasting thread,  1/8 inch from edge.

How-to: Leather-trimmed lantern

The handles are decorative, not for lifting the lantern, and should be angled away from the candles’ heat.

Light cowhide leather strips (3/4 inch wide for small lantern; 1 inch wide for large lantern)

Craft knife or scissors

Leather punch

Gold round-head brads (8 per lantern)

Clear glass cylinder vases (6 by 8 inches for small lantern; 8 by 10 inches for large lantern)

1. Prepare the leather strips: For small lantern, cut one 16  1/2-inch piece (for handle), two 19 5/8-inch pieces (for horizontal straps), and four 8-inch pieces (for vertical straps). For large lantern, cut one 16 1/2-inch piece (for handle), two 25 7/8-inch pieces (for horizontal straps), and four 10-inch pieces (for vertical straps).

2. To assemble each lantern, punch holes  3/8 inch from both ends of all straps. On horizontal straps, punch 3 more holes, evenly spaced.

3. Form bottom edge: Lay 1 horizontal strap flat, smooth-side down. Place the ends of 3 vertical straps, smooth-sides down, on top of it, lining up the holes; leave the horizontal strap’s first and last holes empty. Fasten brads through aligned holes.

4. Form top edge: Line up remaining horizontal strap, smooth-side down, with open ends of vertical straps. Sandwich one end of handle strap, smooth-side down, between horizontal strap in front and left-hand vertical strap in back; fasten all together with a brad. Fasten remaining vertical straps and handle-strap end to top horizontal strap with brads.

5. Form a sleeve: Pull together right and left ends of top and bottom horizontal straps. Place remaining vertical strap behind them, smooth-side facing out, and fasten with brads. Slip sleeve over vase.

Sources: Jamali Garden clear-glass cylinder vases, 6 inches by 8 inches and 8 inches by 10 inches, from $10 each, jamaligarden.com. Tandy Leather lightweight cowhide leather strips,  3/4 inch and 1 inch, from $15 for 50 inches, tandyleather.com. Staples gold round-head fasteners, 3/8 inch, $2.50 for 100, staples.com.

How-to: Leather-handle trivet

Fabric (wool or medium-weight linen or cotton)

Fabric scissors

Cotton or wool batting

Light cowhide leather strip, 3/4 inch wide

Craft knife or scissors

Sewing supplies

Sewing machine (optional)


Straight pins

Embroidery thread

1. Cut out two 5  1/4-inch squares, one 5 1/4-by-9 3/4-inch rectangle, and one 9 3/4-inch square of fabric. Cut out a 9 3/4-inch square of batting. Cut a 7-inch leather strip.

2. Sew 5  1/4-inch squares together with a 3/8-inch seam allowance to form a long rectangle. Iron open seams.

3. Sew this new rectangle to the rectangular piece of fabric with a  3/8-inch seam allowance. (Resulting patched square should measure 9 3/4 inches.) Iron open seams.

4. Lay patched square right-side down on 9  3/4-inch fabric square, top with batting and pin all three layers together. Sew around all four sides with a 3/8-inch seam allowance, leaving a 3-inch gap in middle of top side.

5. Clip off corners and turn fabric right-side out through gap. Poke out corners so they’re pointy, then stitch gap closed.

6. For leather handle, punch small holes  3/8 inch from each end of leather strip. Use embroidery thread to stitch ends of strip onto trivet, centering it and pulling it through holes three or four times until secure.

SOURCES: Tandy Leather lightweight cowhide leather strips,  3/4 inch, $15 for 50 inches, tandyleather.com.

Let us help you! Email your questions to askmartha@marthastewart.com, or send them to Ask Martha, c/o Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 805 Third Avenue, 25th floor, New York, NY 10022. Please include your full name, address and daytime phone number.