How to Set a Formal Table for Thanksgiving Like a Pro

How to Set a Formal Table for Thanksgiving Like a Pro

There’s no arguing that a simple and relaxed table filled with delicious food shared with your favorite people will always spark the most worthwhile conversations and the most memorable moments.

But sometimes, it feels good to dress up the table for the occasion too, especially during holidays. This Thanksgiving, why don’t you try to treat your guests with a different kind of dining experience? Whether you’re hosting it for family, for friends, or just for you and your beau, it’s time to take out your best linen, china, cutlery, plus some exquisite flower arrangements, and set a formal Thanksgiving table for them like a pro.

How? Let’s start with the basics.

In general, a formal place setting is no different from the informal setup that we’re used to. It just adds a few more dishes, glassware, and utensils for three or more courses. You see this style of table set up in upscale fine dining restaurants and wedding receptions that serve several courses.

FORKS: How to layout your plates and utensils

20th-century etiquette expert, the Emily Post Institute shares a simple cheat on how to remember the position of each piece: FORKS, from left to right. It’s “F” for the fork, “O” for the shape of the plate (disregard “R”), “K” for knives (with the cutting edge of knives placed toward the plate), and “S” for spoons.

Usually, the menu also has a say about where the utensils should be. With the furthest utensil being used for the first course and working your way in as the other courses are served.

Thanksgiving FLOWERS: the dos and don’ts

Flowers are highly recommended decorations for a formal table setting. Here a handful of tips to ace your Thanksgiving tablescape.

  • Choose flowers that have no strong scent that may overpower or that may blend unpleasantly with the aroma of the food to be served.
  • Low arrangements are favored over tall ones, so guests won’t find it difficult to see and talk to each other across.

Harvest Queen, $140

  • Pumpkin flower arrangements and other fall/autumn-themed designs are an excellent choice for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • DIYs are impressive. However, if you're a busy bee always running out of time or if you're short on staff with preparations, best order your flowers online. Check out our latest Fall Collection for more options. 

FESTIVE TOUCH: Linen and other trinkets


Crisp white linens are the gold standard when it comes to formal setting, but tasteful prints and colorful patterns are also refreshing to see on the table. For more texture and personal touch, tie napkins with dried leaves, flowers, or twigs, and add name cards to your tablescape.

Adding candles? Yes, please but steer clear of scented varieties and please don’t light them up when the sun’s still out.

Symmetry is the secret. Don’t let them think you’re an amateur with an uneven number of spoons or misaligned plates.

Lastly, loosen up. Don’t let all the holiday preps get the best of you. While it’s nice to channel your inner Martha Stewart once in a while, Thanksgiving will be more epic when you’re having fun and grateful you have the best people to share it with.  

Did we miss anything? Share your table setting tips in the comments below. 



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