When it comes to hosting a Thanksgiving gathering at your home, whether this is your first year, or your 20th, it’s always nice to incorporate some new and exciting ideas into your tablescape. With its unique mix of southern history, “water-centric ” coastal lifestyle, and rustic Lowcountry charm, Charleston offers up an unlimited array of Thanksgiving decor inspiration. What should your Thanksgiving table in Charleston include?  Here are some ideas for creating the perfect table for your family and friends.

  1. Start with a clean slate. Remove everything from the table so you can start with a fresh perspective.
  2. Layer! For formal tables, layering is key. The texture adds a lot of interest. You can start with a table cloth then add a table runner for additional color or pattern. In a historic downtown Charleston Single home, traditional brick Georgian, or charming carriage house, think rich brocade fabrics or a vintage piece of heirloom lace.  At the beach, you might choose a runner of burlap or natural fibers to add a warm, textural touch. A black and white buffalo checkered cloth is a fun choice as well! 
  3. Determine how you are serving the meal. Will you be serving from a buffet or at the table? If you are serving at the table be sure to leave ample space for food. You can even do a trial run, placing your platters and larger serving pieces on the table while decorating.
  4. Next consider the height and start building your “centerpiece. ” Consider keeping the table designs low to avoid anything that can be obtrusive. This allows for great eye contact & conversation, which is the reason everyone is gathering. You can easily create a centerpiece that is just below eye level, but still feels special. Clip blooms from your fall window boxes, add in gourds or pieces of boxwood & magnolias.  For a lowcountry feel, tuck in shells or starfish, or bundles of sweetgrass tied with ribbon.

If you want height, consider something adaptable like stacking heirloom pumpkins during cocktails and streaming them down the table as a runner when dinner is served. If you’re serving dinner at the table, remove the top of the stem and you can even place platters on top of them.

  1. Set your place settings. Always set silverware and napkins for convenience, even when serving buffet style. When serving buffet style, put a folded napkin at the place setting to define the space.
  2. For easy hosting, pre-fill water goblets and leave a pitcher of water on the table. It’s also nice to preset wine glasses and have bottles of both red and white wine uncorked for convenience. If your entertaining space includes antique dining furniture that includes a sideboard or hutch,  you can put the bottles off to the side yet at a reachable distance. Remember to keep the white wine in a chiller of some kind and always include beautiful salt and pepper shakers.
  3. Don’t forget the place cards. This can be a charming addition and also helps everyone seat themselves without confusion. 
  4. And finally, add a touch of the past. Whether it’s your Mom’s china, your Grandmother’s gravy boat or your Great Aunt’s candlesticks, it’s important to add a touch of Thanksgiving’s past in with today.

Thanksgiving in Charleston SC, like cities and towns everywhere, is a special time to give thanks and celebrate the harvest of the land with family and friends – just like it was meant to be in 1621.  Whether you go big and formal, small and casual, or anything in between, you can’t go wrong with adding a touch of the Charleston lowcountry to your table.  

NOTE: As we ease into this Thanksgiving week, don’t let the stress of holiday travel or cooking the “perfect ” meal unnerve you – let’s remember to be thankful for most of the things we have, and some of the things we don’t. And, if you are lucky enough to be the guest at the table of someone who has set a beautiful Thanksgiving table – be extra thankful for them!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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