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A Positive Path with Holly Lebowitz Rossi: Thanksgiving Table-Setting Tips

The Guideposts blogger shares three helpful hints for setting a table for Thanksgiving (or any other special occasion) that will set a festive tone.

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I’m Holly Lebowitz Rossi, writer of the Guideposts blog, A Positive Path, here to talk with you about simple ways to set a beautiful table for Thanksgiving or any festive meal.

The pandemic still might be limiting your guest list this year, but a holiday deserves a special, warm and welcoming table. I’ll show you three simple things that make up my idea of a festive, relaxed table for you to enjoy with your household’s regulars or special holiday guests. And the best news of all, you can do this a few days ahead of time to minimize your holiday stress.

First, put down a tablecloth or a set of placemats, something that either connects you with memories of past celebrations or gives your eating space a fresh new look that’s a little bit holiday different. You don’t need a fancy or expensive tablecloth, it just has to be pleasing to your eye, easy to clean and ready to catch any drips from the gravy boat or that spoonful of extra cranberry sauce. Cloth napkins are also an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to spruce up your table.
This is my favorite tablecloth, one that I bought years ago on a special trip. And every time I take it out, I think of that one word: special.

Second, set the whole table. I like to think through everything I’ll be serving at a dinner and make sure everything within reason, especially silverware, is laid out before anyone takes their seats. After all, you’re not a catering hall and wouldn’t you rather relax with your loved ones than be clearing and resetting your table?

My favorite hack is to place dessert implements, teaspoons and dessert forks, above the dinner plate, where they won’t get in the way of the main meal, but there’ll be ready to roll when the pies and coffee show up.

Third, think small when it comes to table decorations. My table-setting hero, Ina Garten, has a rule that flowers on a table should be lush and low. Just a few blossoms of sizeable flowers like roses or my late season hydrangeas here, can be cut low to fill out a simple, low vase in a way that makes your table look polished and celebratory, but won’t cost you a lot of time or money and won’t block your view of either your favorite casserole or the people you’re thankful to see across the table.

Most of all, I wish you all delicious, peaceful holiday meals, either seated in your own good company or with the ones you love with gratitude for yourself and each other on holidays and every day.

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