Avoid the Thanksgiving headaches and plan for a fabulous day with these 5 tips.

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Dinner plate and Salad plate with Oak Leaf - 5 Ways to Have an Easy Thanksgiving Gathering - AnExtraordinaryDay.net 

How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner Easy and Fun


TIP 1 ~ Keep it Simple!

I can’t stress this enough.  It’s taken me many years and too many melt-downs to realize that I had a tendency to overcomplicate holiday entertaining.

Whatever you do well and love to do… that’s where you should focus your time.

For me… that’s setting a pretty table like this one.

I’m all about the presentation.  Making everything look pretty makes my creative juices run.  Slaving in the kitchen… not so much.  That means that my menu needs to be simple and easy AND I need to welcome my guests’ offers to bring a dish.


Dining table set with plaid tablecloth for Thanksgiving - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


Speaking of simplicity… let’s take a minute to talk about this very casual and easy tablescape.

At first, it may not look like it was simple to create, but it really is one of the more simple tablescapes I’ve created.

What makes it look amazingly rich with all the feels of late fall and Thanksgiving is the combination of rich texture and moody muted colors.


Small White Pumpkin with Fall Floral Arrangement - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


You probably remember this throw I tossed across the top of my tablecloth.  Not long ago it graced both my chair and my table when I shared how to Hygge your home for fall.  It’s the perfect backdrop for the beautiful dinnerware I selected from Wayfair.  This white Cyprus Dinnerware Set by Sango, has a slight bluish-gray cast which picks up that soft muted blue in the throw.


Simple Casual Fall Table Setting with Oak Leaf - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


I wanted to pull in some of nature’s elements to give the table a true seasonal feel.  Several years ago I made some oak leaf placemats which I carefully stored away at the back of my closet.  They are easy to make with the tutorial I created if you’d like to make some too.  The placemats are a lovely complement to the brownish dots and edging of the dinnerware.

Because I wanted a dressy casual feel to the table, I grabbed the goblets and metal drinking “glasses.” The dots on the metal glasses were a slight repetition of the dots edging the dinnerware.  Win!


Lovely Fall or Thanksgiving Place Setting Pale Gray Dishes with Oak Leaves and Black Napkins - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


Next, I needed to decide what to do about a centerpiece.  I have plenty of pumpkins, but I wanted to keep the moody monochromatic feel of the table, so I opted to keep the bright-colored pumpkins and bittersweet contained to my sideboard. For a different twist, I used the cereal bowl which is very large as the base for my floral arrangement.

On the last day of our local farmers’ market, I purchased a nice bouquet of fresh eucalyptus. They still looked good, so I thought their bluish-gray color was perfect with the plates and the throw so I decided they should become the “base” to the arrangement.


Casual Natural Floral Arrangement of Eucalyptus Gerbera Daisies & Oak Leaves for Thanksgiving Table - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


I placed a vintage frog on the bottom of the cereal bowl and filled the bowl with water.  (Mine was found at a summer flea for around $6… they are so worth having for making easy floral arrangements.)  Then I cut the eucalyptus and placed the stems in the frog. This is a good-sized bowl and I realized I needed more than the eucalyptus, so I went to the grocery store for white flowers.  These are mini gerbera daisies.  I wished they had more… seems like all the white flowers found homes before I arrived.

Sometimes when things aren’t coming together exactly as you imagine… you come up with better ideas.  Since I was using the oakleaf placemats, why not add oak leaves to the centerpiece?  What a fun, easy, and simple way to bring all the elements of the table together in one casual centerpiece!


Casual Thanksgiving Centerpiece with Small Boo White Pumpkin - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


On either side of the centerpiece, I added some white boo pumpkins to finish off the arrangement. Tada!

Now to finish the place settings. I have white napkins, but they were too white and the natural napkins with the lacy trim were too tan.  Hmmm… now what?  I rummaged through my stash and found some black napkins I picked up on clearance at the grocery store last spring.  Oh my goodness!  I had no idea how I would use them at the time. Aren’t they perfect?  They pick up the black stripe in the throw and contribute to that warm moody feeling.

You can’t see any silverware, because I wrapped each napkin around a knife, fork, and spoon and slipped them all through a napkin ring.  It’s simple… so easy… and gives the table that uncomplicated casual feel.


Easy Casual Gray Black Brown Thanksgiving Table Setting - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


One last item to complete the table settings… oak leaves.  They look so pretty on each plate.  AND if you like, you can take a metallic sharpie and write your guest’s name on the leaf or maybe a single word like gratitude or thanks.

I walked you through all the details of setting this lovely table for Thanksgiving.  It may seem like a lot to do, but seriously, it took me all of 20 minutes to gather everything and set the table and maybe another 20 minutes, outside of my grocery store run for flowers and a trip to the backyard for leaves, to complete the centerpiece.

Truly this is an easy, casual Thanksgiving tablescape.  Have you been inspired?


Thanksgiving table place setting with oak leaves - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


Now that the table is set… let’s talk more about making your Thanksgiving hospitality experience a fabulous one!


TIP 2 ~ Thanksgiving (or any holiday) is not about YOU!

What? I know too well that we can use these times to show-off… cooking skills… decorating skills… you name it!

It’s also not about the size of your home, how old your furniture is, or that pet stain you can’t get off the carpet.  And it’s certainly not about what you’ll be wearing.

It’s just not about YOU!!

It’s about gathering people together to have fun, to develop friendships, to offer a place of safety, a place of peace, and to break bread together.   People come with all kinds of baggage.  Your job as a host is to think about your guests, their comfort, and most of all to listen, care, and offer true hospitality.  In short… love on them.


Thanksgiving - Fall Floral Arrangement with Eucalyptus, White Gerbera Daisies, Oak Leaves - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


TIP 3 ~ When you invite your guests… let them know what to expect.

Tell your guests what time to come.  If you’re planning drinks and appetizers for an hour or more before dinner, let them know in advance.  This gives your guests a little wiggle room if they need it.   Or if you plan to have dinner on the table immediately… they need to know that.

Let them know how to dress.  Seriously, nothing is more uncomfortable for some people than arriving at your home over or underdressed.

Don’t hesitate to invite your guests to bring something, if they wish.  Tell them your main menu. Roasted turkey?  Ask if they would like to bring dessert, salad, bread, etc.  Don’t pressure them, though.  Listen for cues.   Finish your menu around what your guests are bringing.  It’s expensive to serve food to a crowd and most people, if they’re able, love to bring something.


Casual Fall Tablescape in grays and black and browns on a plaid tablecloth - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


TIP 4 ~ Prepare ahead, so you’re not spending all your time in the kitchen.

It might require a trip to the deli, or cooking ahead of time, but be conscious of spending time in the kitchen when you should be spending time with your guests.  I can be so guilty of finishing the meal in the kitchen and leaving my husband to do all the chatting with everyone.

I read about a very wealthy and famous woman who could have had her meals catered, but instead chose to cook for her dinner parties.  She cooked the day ahead and only had to warm her food for her dinner party.  She said that the biggest reason was that food tastes better the next day.   Whatever the reason… cut yourself some slack so that you can enjoy your guests.  The biggest reason they come to your home is to spend time with you.


Artsy photo of gray dishes with oak leaf on top - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


TIP 5 ~ Don’t worry about the dishes.

If you’re serving food, get one or two large sturdy baskets that can be slopped on, and use those like bus-boy baskets.  Gather or have your guests deposit their dirty dishes in those baskets.  That will keep your counters clear and clean and nice for serving desserts after dinner.  And have another basket ready for dessert dishes and coffee cups, etc.

Place those baskets of dirty dishes out-of-the-way in your mudroom, laundry closet, etc.  After your guests have left, then you can start cleaning up.  Remember… the party is about your guests… not your dishes.  Sure a little food will get dried on.  It’s nothing a short soak in the sink won’t take care of.  And with the dirty dishes out of sight, your guests won’t even be thinking that they should help you in the kitchen.   If someone wants to stay after the party is over to clean up… let them.  Unless you plan to tackle the kitchen in the morning, which is just fine.  I promise the party police won’t be over to check.


Celebrating with an Easy Casual Thanksgiving Dinner in the Dining Room - AnExtraordinaryDay.net


These 5 tips really do help to make your Thanksgiving simple and easy and fun.

  • Do you have a tip to share that helps you sail through holiday entertaining with ease?
Pin It to remember for Later because it's so good - AnExtraordinaryDay.net5 Tips for a Simple Easy Thanksgiving - Thanksgiving Dining Tablescape - AnExtraordinaryDay.net



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I’m so grateful to have been chosen as a Wayfair Homemaker this year.

Catch up on my past posts…

Two “Green” Thumbs Up for Small Space Container Gardening

9 Easy Tips for a Simple Picnic on the Beach

A Sanctuary To Close Out A Perfect Summer Day

How I Brought the Warm Simple Coziness of Hygge to My Home

And watch for more posts from me featuring inspiring ways to make your home and lifestyle more beautiful with products from Wayfair.

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  1. Gail says

    Busboy buckets – simple and effective. Ty for idea

    • Diane says

      So glad you like that idea, Gail!! It’s super helpful when you host a big crew, or a small crew with a tiny kitchen. It has brought such peace to me. 😉

  2. Minnie says

    Absolutely amazing!
    I’m on my way. Don’t worry, I’m not coming to eat. I’ll sit quietly (snicker…I don’t know how) and just soak up the peaceful welcoming ambience.
    Blessings to you!

    • Diane says

      Oh Minnie, I wish you were close and could come to eat. Though you have probably figured out that it will be simple. I quit trying to be Martha a few years ago. Finally!!!! Thanks for your sweet thoughts! {hugs}

  3. Gwen says

    I liked the put the dirty dishes in the laundry room! It seems like my husband shoos everyone away and doesn’t accept help but it’s not an easy task anymore. Accepting help is okay. Family can usually clean up all the dishes quickly if the prep dishes are cleaned up before guests arrive. But if it’s guests I like putting them out of sight. Our dishwasher says Load without running water at the sink. Yet we still wash it all so clean first!!
    I like your new dishes!!! I think you can clean out cupboards now. I know I’m going to. I saved some old dishes but I saved too many. I can get rid of more. And use my China. What am I waiting for? I have old dollar tree plates I don’t use. I’ve got to make what I like accessible. This is such a pretty centerpiece.
    I think Thanksgiving can be one of my favorite meals to make. I like the turkey baking bags. Makes clean up easier and cuts down on cook time. I’m hungry now. What’s for breakfast?!!

    • Thanks Gwen! It just works to have a basket and a place to put everyone’s dirty dishes that’s out of the way. Usually, when people bring food to share, there is the washing up of those dishes and I have never had enough counter space. So it works beautifully! I’m so glad you like the new dishes. I confess I wasn’t sure as they are quite a bit larger than my usual. The salad plates are actually the size of luncheon plates… which isn’t bad because we use luncheon plates almost exclusively. Have fun cleaning out your cupboard and organizing them with your favorites. Hope you’re looking forward to Thanksgiving and all the good eats and family fun. xoxo

  4. Kim Neely says

    I love your fall leaf placemat! My daughter and I have a function where we have to decorate a table for 10 at an event at her church called Vintage Christmas. While my dishes are not really Chistmas design (they are Pioneer Woman’s Country Garden), I thought they would work and we could consider our table a Country Christmas. Do you have any ideas for placemats or chargers that we could make at little cost. I wanted tree slices, but to fit under the dinner plates they would need to be about 12 inches and one tree slice that size is costly, if I need 10. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you in advance!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Kim! Your daughter’s event sounds so fun! I Googled the dishes and they are lovely! Here’s an inexpensive charger/placemat idea which I have done before… go to the dollar store first I believe they have large paper doilies to place on trays for serving cookies, etc. They make great charger/placemats. And they will pick up a little of the lace design in the plate. Also, I would have a tendency to go with green for my table centerpiece and accents. That would make your dishes feel more in the holiday spirit. You could add green paper under the doily, though not necessary, and you could make place cards… maybe with a blessing or scripture of Christmas word or simply an ivy leaf or sprig of something… just take green cardstock cut to size and then take a portion of the doily and glue it over some of the green card on an angle. I would try to use ivy along with some evergreen for the centerpiece and weave a thin red ribbon in it (to repeat the red edge of the dishes). You could also make fans for the centerpiece with the large doilies to repeat the lace theme. Or simply roll the doilies up into tubes and have them jut up from the centerpiece. These are just really quick thoughts… hope they help spur on your creativity. Be sure to send me a photo of your table. I’d love to see it!! xoxo

      • Kim says

        I cannot wait to try some of these ideas! I really like them. We do have an old pair of boots that we’ll use and maybe some horseshoes. We are just coming up with all kinds of thoughts. Will probably take way to much to set up the table, but we’ll do what we can. Thank you, thank you!

        • You are so welcome, Kim! I look forward to hearing how it all comes together!

  5. Jamie says

    Wow, that turned out beautifully!! I absolutely love the centerpiece…small, but still makes a huge statement! 🙂

    • Thank you, Jamie! So often the centerpiece takes over the table and I didn’t want that to happen. I’m so pleased that you love it too! Thanks for popping by and taking the time to leave your kind thoughts.
      All the best for an extraordinary weekend!

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