Simply Beautiful Thanksgiving Ideas

Less is more with these beautifully modern Thanksgiving dinner ideas you'll want to use this year.

Thanksgiving doesn’t need to be the same old song and dance each year.

Sure, things like turkey and family-style settings may always make an appearance at the table, but there’s a way to breathe fresh air into the holiday. And that’s by doing less—yep, less. Edit down your menu and stow away those knickknacks. A simple and clean (dare we say, minimalist?) Thanksgiving dinner allows for less distraction and more time to focus on what matters most: the people around you. Oh, and the food, too.

Whether minimalism is your middle name or you’re still hoping to clean out that kitchen junk drawer, we’ve rounded up our favorite simple and modern Thanksgiving ideas for your celebration this year. Find even more tips in our Thanksgiving hosting handbook.

Image of simple Thanksgiving recipes: Turkey and green bean and bacon bundles.Taste of Home

Scaling down the menu doesn’t mean serving measly portions. After all, you’ll want to save extras for these genius leftover ideas! Narrow down your dish list to four or five absolute must-haves and put your time and energy into these. For instance, this recipe for green bean bundles with a sugar and white wine vinegar dressing was a Test Kitchen favorite. Not only will the presentation delight everyone at your table, the sauce gives the bacon-wrapped beans an addictive sweet-and-sour kick. The perfect mix of style and substance!

A simple menu will also give you more time to put care into the quality of the ingredients you buy. Maybe this year, opt for a heritage turkey or one that’s pasture-raised. Consider sourcing your ingredients from local producers. (It’ll make sides like mashed cauliflower and minted beet salad shine!) Learn how to make gravy from scratch—perfect for Thanksgiving dinner. Or splurge on a fig spread that will elevate your dinner rolls. You’ll find yourself with a wonderful story to tell at dinnertime—and the food will taste fantastic, too.

Salty dog sangriaTaste of Home

Some folks take minimalism to an extreme and are left with something that’s cold and sterile—but where’s the fun in that? With extra time and energy, a non-traditional Thanksgiving feast like this is the perfect time to try sport out new recipes. Our Test Kitchen fell in love with Salty Dog Sangria. It’s a mix of grapefruit, ginger ale, vodka, simple syrup and wine that tastes super refreshing. Dip your glasses in a mixture of salt-and grated grapefruit peel to take it over-the-top.

Test Kitchen tip: Use coarse salt here. Regular table salt can be very salty and overpower the flavor of the sangria.

Check out our best (and most beautiful) Thanksgiving recipes for more inspiration.

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Simply Beautiful Thanksgiving Decorations

Simple and beautiful Thanksgiving table decorationsTaste of Home

Take this quote from style icon Coco Chanel: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” It sounds silly, but the same advice can be applied to a modern Thanksgiving table. Remove any extra garlands or towering centerpieces from your decor lineup. To start our look, we chose a simple white linen tablecloth which gave the entire table a clean slate to build upon. Then, we elevated a few basic items.

Simply Beautiful Table Setting

To fill out the table, try adding thoughtful decorations that won’t draw too much attention away from the turkey or mashed potatoes. We kept things modern with geometric gold accents. The transparent edges of these pieces helped ease the clutter! Find all of the products to re-create this modern look.

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How to Give Thanks: Pumpkin Pass

Even when you’re hosting something simple, all of the planning and a house filled with guests can distract you from the true meaning of the holiday: giving thanks. Bring this feel-good Thanksgiving activity to the table:

• Purchase a small faux pumpkin—preferably one that’s white!
• Decorate the front by writing “Thankful” in permanent marker.
• During the party, pass the pumpkin and a marker around to all of your friends and family so they can add their own thanks.

Want More Ideas? Find Your Thanksgiving Style.

Transform your table this holiday by planning your Thanksgiving feast around one of our fun (and delicious!) themes. Take our quiz to find the perfect menu, stunning tablescape decorations and more—all based off of your personality.


Nicole Doster
Nicole is the Content Director of TMB's Strategy and Performance team. She oversees the brand's shopping and trend editorial teams and assists with content planning across Taste of Home, Family Handyman, Reader's Digest, The Healthy and Birds & Blooms. With over seven years of experience writing and editing in the food and home space, she enjoys sharing cooking tips, recipe picks and product recommendations that make life a little easier. When she's not hunched over her laptop, she's either practicing latte art or fixating on her latest DIY home renovation.