How to Style a Thanksgiving-ready Space

Prepare your home for holiday entertaining with these expert tips from interior designer Christine Friend

Credit: Pottery Barn

If you’re looking to wow your guests with a top-notch Thanksgiving dinner, it’s time to start thinking beyond the tabletop

“It’s important to note your decor for Thanksgiving because it really helps complete your dining experience,” says Christine Friend, interior designer and speaker at this year’s Vancouver Home + Design Show. “No matter what theme you opt for, try to incorporate your own personal style—it’s what will make the night unique.”

Click through for Friend’s top tips to ensure your guests dine in fully immersive style this Thanksgiving.

Make An Entrance

“Thanksgiving starts at the front door,” says Friend. “Having a mat or wreath is a wonderful way to welcome guests into your home.”

If you have urns or steps leading to your front door, she suggests embellishing these with seasonal colours by adding real or faux pumpkins, gourds, dried flowers, sticks or leaves. For added interest, try to use a variety of sizes and layers to create height.

Garnish With Greens

Don’t forget about the meal itself when setting your Thanksgiving scene. “Use actual greenery from your own yard or trees as garnish and to pretty up your serving platters,” advises Friend.

Autumn leaves in vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows can also be scattered along the table and elsewhere to help instill a warm, earthy vibe.

Credit: Pottery Barn

Change Up Your Seating

Looking to jazz up your dining set? “Consider adding ribbons or seat cushions to your dining chairs,” says Friend. “Plaid patterns in particular always offer a variety of colours which scream ‘fall.’”

The same move can be made in the living room and other seating areas. “Switching out your toss pillows or throws is an easy way to create an updated, seasonal look,” she adds.

Get Creative With Candles

Candles are great for providing a soft ambience, but try to think outside the box when putting them to use this Thanksgiving. “Fill your hurricanes with unpopped popcorn, dried cranberries or use dye to colour your water for floating candles,” suggests Friend.

For timely—and inexpensive—candle holders, a nature-inspired DIY may just be your best bet. “Collect some fallen tree branches and drill holes into them to place tea lights,” explains Friend. “These can be used as a centerpiece for a table, buffet or sidebar.” 

Decorate in Unexpected Places

A well-styled space is all in the well-positioned details. “Rather than having seasonal pieces here and there, make clusters of items in central areas that are easy for your guests to see,” says Friend.

And don’t forget the bathroom. “Place items in unexpected places, too,” Friend suggests. Whether it’s on your china shelf, bookshelves or a staircase (space allowing), strategically placing decor throughout your home will ensure the holiday spirit is felt through and through.

Involve The Kids

Thanksgiving is typically a family affair, so it makes sense to get the kids involved. “My favourite part of decorating for Thanksgiving is being able to incorporate things that have been handmade by myself or my kids,” shares Friend. “Use tracings of their little hands to make a turkey-like garland or name cards for the table,” she suggests. “Another idea is to have notes of gratitude on the backs of place cards.”  

Curate a Playlist

Nothing sets the mood quite like a great soundtrack—so it’s worth preparing one beforehand. “Make sure it’s not too high-pitched,” says Friend. “You want something soft on the ears that creates warmth!”

A number of apps and free streaming services, such as Songza, also provide curated playlists—categorized by genres like indie, acoustic, and jazz—that are tailor-made for Thanksgiving dinner.

Gift Edible Favours

A surefire way to create a memorable dining experience? Edible party favours. “Send your guests home with something you served,” says Friend.

This year, the designer is gifting her guests with homemade corn relish, which she’s canned and decorated with a pretty ribbon and label.