If you didn’t figure it out, my first Thanksgiving inspired tablescape is all about history. Yes, that’s right, I’m going to force you to learn while you decorate your house. Wait, come back! You won’t have to learn that much, I swear. In fact, you can just look at the pictures if that suits you better. Okay, let’s get on with it. The first Thanksgiving happened a super long time ago and doesn’t have a lot to do with what we celebrate today, but sometimes it’s fun to go back to our origins. Now, I’m not trying to make your table look like it belongs in the 1600s. I’m just trying to to take a few pieces of history and throw them into the mix. I have a big table and a small table, so I’ll show you how it looks on both.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.
First Thanksgiving Inspired Tablescape Ideas
1. A Natural Look
To be honest, I have no idea what kind of table coverings they used back then, if any, but if you read me regularly you know I think you need something nice for a modern Thanksgiving. In this case, natural seemed to be the way to go. So, of course, I went with burlap. Runners are pretty cheap, but you can’t wash them, so if you want to reuse it be careful with that red wine. For my small table I borrowed a fall table runner from my mom. it’s a little old so I can’t tell you where to find it, but there are plenty of similar ones out there. I like that the runner still has a natural color scheme, but also adds details for a smaller table because I don’t want to overload it with objects.
2. A Hint of Pilgrim
Ha, the term “a hint of pilgrim” is really amusing me right now. Hopefully it amuses you too. Anyway, I’ve seen plenty of pilgrim hat decor before, but come on. I don’t want a giant hat on my table. So instead, to keep this first Thanksgiving inspired tablescape going, I’ve made candles in the vein of their buckled hats without being a hat. All you need are some black candles, white ribbon, and gold buckles (you can pick the last two up at a crafting store). Cut a ribbon to go around the bottom of the candle, put two buckles on it (so both sides of the table see a buckle) and then tape or glue the ribbon. Super easy crafting.
3. Cranberries for the Wampanoag
If you don’t already know this, the Wampanoag are the American Indian tribe that joined the pilgrims for the first Thanksgiving. Now, we live in divisive times, and some American Indians actually call Thanksgiving their “Day of Mourning.” Because of that I don’t want to try anything that’s stereotypical American Indian, but I know the Wampanoag celebrate cranberries, so I figured it would be a good idea to have them represented that way. These cranberry decorations are super simple. Cranberries float, so just throw them in something cute with water. Add a tealight. Done.
4. First Foods
Unsurprisingly, we don’t eat the same way people ate back at the first Thanksgiving. So, instead of forcing your guests to eat those foods and really sticking to your theme, just add a few odds and ends to your table decor. Walnuts and chestnuts are great and easy. Corn is good too, and wheat adds for a fun centerpiece. I got the fake items from Hobby Lobby and walnuts from the grocery store. I chose not to use any of this on the small table because there just isn’t room. To make a smaller table pop, see the next idea.
5. Non-Historical Color
Okay, so your table is probably looking like it knows a lot about history now. But it’s probably also missing color. Time to add some place mats, charger plates, napkins, silverware, cups, whatever. I’ve got two different color schemes going on each table, so there’s definitely room to play with your own. The dishes on the big table are my actual good dishes, so I happened to luck into that particular color scheme. I used alternating color schemes for each table. On the big one I switched both the place mats (last season’s from Target, but here’s a similar one) and ribbon napkin rings, and just the napkins on the small. And yes, those are my interchangeable holiday plates on the small table. See? Versatile.
As a time saving tip, I do want to tell you one thing. Once you pick your color scheme, commit. It shouldn’t take that long to set a table, but it can take forever if you second guess yourself. Really, whatever you choose is going to look awesome, because you have so many options to make a first Thanksgiving inspired tablescape. Take ideas from the big table, small table, or both and see what you can come up with. Now have a happy holiday!