10 Ideas We’re Stealing from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Thanksgiving Table

updated May 24, 2019
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Understatement of the season: Chip and Joanna Gaines have earned an enormous following for their gorgeous home renovations on HGTV’s Fixer Upper. The couple and their adorable family have turned their signature taste into a lifestyle, with a magazine, Target line, and uber-popular Instagram feed to match.

Naturally when they entertain, you get the same kind of wow factor from their table as you do from one of their kitchen renovations. While I’m not expecting anyone to wear black-tie clothing to a family Thanksgiving (see below), Chip and Joanna have plenty of Thanksgiving ideas that are worth stealing.

Here’s what I’ve learned from looking at the couple’s past holiday celebrations.

1. Start with a bare table.

Wood is a signature Chip and Joanna texture, and even their black-tie affairs skip a tablecloth. This intentionally casual, rustic touch can provide a natural contrast to the dinnerware and the otherwise-fancy occasion to make guests feel at ease.

2. Keep it neutral.

You’re probably familiar with the couple’s go-to color scheme by now, but they do it because it works. Black, white, and brown (plus a hint of green) show up frequently in the couple’s palette — and these colors work well in November too, against foods with those rusty red and orange colors. You know, for when you Instagram your dinner.

3. Use greenery instead of flowers.

No brightly colored bouquets here — rather a melting of greens, browns, and white magnolias. Bonus: It’s easier to gather greenery from your yard in November, so you can save a little money, too!

4. Layer, layer, layer.

How many plates will you need tonight? The answer is … all of them. The more you layer a place setting, the fancier it looks, and it adds beautiful texture to the table. Plus, you won’t have to run back to the kitchen for dessert plates when you’re almost too stuffed to move.

5. Bundle the cutlery.

Perhaps your friends don’t know a salad fork from a fish fork — or maybe you don’t feel like worrying about getting all that silverware straight, Downton Abbey-style. Either way, tying up the silverware with the napkin gives you a nice topper for your layers of plates, and contributes to the casually elegant feeling.

6. Use a looooong centerpiece.

Often, the go-to centerpiece is one big bouquet in the center of a table, but if you’re at a rectangular table, that can leave the sides a little bare. So unless you’re planning to serve family-style and need the space, use a runner or a bunch of branches all the way down the table to spread out the tablescape magic.

7. Add some sparkle.

Whether it’s gold-toned flatware or a silver goblet, a splash of metallic bling on your table can make even the most earthy dinnerware or rustic table look fancy. Other easy spots to add in that sparkle? In votive holders, napkin rings, or place cards.

8. Look up (or over)!

Sure, most people focus on the table when decorating for Thanksgiving, but that can mean you’re missing an opportunity to add drama! If you don’t have a big ol’ chandelier, consider hanging greenery from the ceiling, or adding something textural — like a macrame banner — to the wall behind the dining table.

9. Make it personal.

Whether you’re using punched copper place cards, packaged magnolia bulbs, or little clipboards (all things the Gaines’ have done), having a little something with family and friends’ names on it makes them feel special, and gives them a little something to take home as a memento as well.

10. Use the good stuff.

Your friends may be clumsy, but when else are you going to use Grandma’s crystal? Of all times, this is the one to pull out your wedding china, polish the silverware, and iron the good napkins. If you “save” all that stuff for the day the kids (or friends) are mature enough to appreciate it, you won’t get to enjoy it nearly as much.