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, I said it. Edit down your menu and stow away those knick-knacks. A simple and clean (dare I 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 chic Thanksgiving ideas for your celebration this year.
Simply Beautiful Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas
Scaling down the menu doesn’t mean serving measly portions. After all, you are going to want to save some leftovers! Narrow down your list to 4-5 list of your cant-live-without it dishes 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 your guests, 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. Instead of frozen or canned foods, source your ingredients from local producers. (It’ll make sides like mashed cauliflower and minted beet salad shine!) 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.
Some people can take minimalism to an extreme and be 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: Try to find salt that is as coarse as possible. 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.
Simply Beautiful Thanksgiving Decorations
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 your 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. For example, everyday flatware was swapped out for this stunning rose-gold set and these glittering stemless rose gold wine glasses from Pier 1 replaced the standard wine glass.
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! You can find all of the products to recreate this look here.
Get the LookHaving a simple and beautiful tablescape lets your Thanksgiving menu take center stage. We've gathered a collection of chic finds perfect for adding an understated flair to your table. Best of all, these accent pieces are sleek and sophisticated without being overly seasonal; you can use them to dress up the dining room year-round. Get more ideas for a simple and beautiful Thanksgiving.
Luxe Cutting BoardThis white marble and acacia wood cutting board ($59) from West Elm is as practical as it is unique, and can go straight from the kitchen counter to the dining room table. When paired with an elegant side dish, like these green bean bundles, the two-tone board is guaranteed to steal the show. Buy here. Psst! For a primer on table setting basics, here's a quick cheat sheet.
Rose Gold Wine GlassesKeep your tablescape toast-worthy with stemless glassware. Its low profile opens up precious space on the table, creating a cozy atmosphere for clinking, feasting and conversation! This rose gold stemless wine glass ($7 each) is a steal and adds an unexpected pop of color to a more predictable earth tone color palette. Buy here.
Blush Soup PlatesPutting a new twist on your traditional Thanksgiving can be as simple as starting things off with a soup or salad course. If it means we can serve it in oh-so-beautiful bowls like these blush-colored soup plates ($40), all the better! Buy here.
Copper Serving PlatterWe love our hardworking everyday serveware, but the holidays call for something special. This copper serving platter ($15) has generous proportions, perfect for holding pitchers of your signature Thanksgiving cocktail. (We especially love this Salty Dog Sangria, in the same color family as this whole pink-and-gold theme we've got going on!) Buy here.
Tea Light HoldersLighting a candle on your Thanksgiving table is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to up the elegance factor. These gold geometric tea light holders ($5) from Hobby Lobby make an affordable, chic accent to beautifully fill the space around your holiday spread. Buy here.
Rose Gold UtensilsWhen the prospect of polishing Grandma's silver is too much work but using your everyday stainless won't cut it, you'll love having a flatware collection that's just dressy enough. This four-piece silverware set ($22) is on trend and easy to care for, adding a subtle touch of elegance. Buy here.
Hand-Glazed PlatterShow off the real star of the Thanksgiving feast: that beautiful bird you've been prepping all day! This elegant gold-rimmed dish ($42) is a sophisticated and practical alternative to larger platters that crowd the table. Loading it up with slices of that freshly roasted turkey means no one has to leave the table for seconds (or thirds). Buy here.
Linen NapkinsFor a timeless look, you can't beat linen dinner napkins. No matter your color scheme, there are an array of classic options to choose from. We love this set of napkins on Etsy ($30 for four). You could use a napkin ring, or you could draw inspo from one of our favorite napkin folding tricks! Buy here.
White & Gold Ceramic Serving UtensilsWith so many dishes on display, serving utensils can disappear fast. Stock up on stylish options like these ceramic serving utensils ($30) so you're not scrambling last-minute for a mish-mash of forks and spoons to dish out all the good stuff. Buy here. r
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.