outside Thanksgving table set with pumpkins and white plates. EAsy thanksgiving tips

Today I’m sharing lots of pretty, simple and easy ideas and entertaining tips for Thanksgiving! Today’s post is a mish-mosh of tips, table, and traditions! A must-read and a keeper too!

Let’s talk turkey! I have lots of Thanksgiving tips for you!

gold ash leaves on a white plate


I set a super easy outdoor fall tablescape this week. It’s sort of a Thanksgiving “dry run” table. Although we will be eating inside, this table is just like the one I’ll be setting for family and friends on Thanksgiving day!


Here’s your first Thanksgiving tip…

Plan out your Thanksgiving table early! Set it, take pictures of every detail and deconstruct it. Put all the tableware from plates to flatware to glasses in dishpans and stash them in your laundry room, garage or even under your bed. Just think how easy it will be to pull everything out and set your Thanksgiving table!


Here’s another Thanksgiving tip…

Set your table several days before Thanksgiving! There’s enough to do on Turkey day!

outdoor thanksgiving table with golden ash leaves in glass cylinders

If you are using real leaves like me, cut them Thanksgiving morning and put them in a big bucket of water in your garage or outside near your home. Keep them cool and submerged in water! 

The leaves on a cut branch will last a few hours on your table before they begin to wilt. But they look so so glorious! They are worth the extra care!

white pumpkins on an outdoor table


If someone asks to help SAY YES!!!!! Many hands make light work! Take that to the bank! Work and chat and nibble and have fun! Crank up the music and dance!

Others will want to join in too! If you have not read THE VERY BEST THANKSGIVING TIP YOU WILL EVER GET do it now!!!!

This will save you so much work and change the way you look at Thanksgiving!!!!!! Of course, you will thank me because this idea is brilliant! No seriously, read it NOW! I’ll wait!

beautiful golden leaves in glass cylinder on a Thanksgiving table


This next Thanksgiving tip makes styling a table so so easy!

Instead of a tablecloth think about using a blanket or throw on your Thanksgiving table. It is the perfect background for a warm, natural look!

I have two Ancient Buchanan wool tartans to go on the table this year. Because they are so colorful, I’m keeping the rest of my table very simple! 


And here’s a pretty NEUTRAL SHAW/THROW/BLANKET I got this year!

easy Thanksgiving tips use a tartan throw on a table


Let’s talk about dishes! This dish pattern is very popular right now. I found them at HomeGoods and have been collecting them for a while! I have 16 dinner dishes and 8 bowls.

They are sturdy, quite reasonable and dishwasher safe!

Now is the perfect time to buy new dishes if you need them. Many times you will find them on sale before Thanksgiving!

Here are a few white dish sets that are very reasonable and on sale!

White dishes are my first choice for tablescaping and for eating from. They make food look the best!

I love stacking dishes at each place setting, but this year’s table is set with one dinner plate that can be taken from the table to the buffet line. If you need another plate for salad or dessert keep them at the buffet.

white dish with a beige linen napkin on a Thanksgiving table


I think serving a buffet is so much easier than a sit down dinner. This is a very practical Thanksgiving tip! And one that will save you lots of energy!

I usually serve Thanksgiving buffet style. That way, I can decorate my table without worrying where platters and bowls will go.

If you are serving a big meal with lots and lots of dishes think about buffet style! Coordinate your buffet with some of the same elements that are on your table. I’ll be adding lots of these saturated ash leaves in glass cylinders to the buffet!

You know you don’t have to put all the food out on a buffet all at once. Consider serving the salad, bread, etc first on the buffet. And then the big meal and then follow it with dessert.

We often serve dessert much later in the evening with some great cocktails! Serving dessert later in the evening gives everyone time to digest their big meal! Then family and friends are ready for something sweet!

Here’s another great idea for serving a big crowd. If you don’t have room to ask your friends and extended family over for the main Thanksgiving meal,  have them over for Thanksgiving dessert later Thanksgiving evening!

We have done this in the past and it is so so much fun! Most of the time our friends offer to bring a dessert and we end up with the most scrumptious selections of goodies!

And speaking of dessert, I usually have dessert set up on the buffet in my dining room.

Think about stations when it comes to a Thanksgiving meal!

Drinks are usually set up in the foyer and the Thanksgiving buffet in the kitchen.

Setting up stations works amazingly well!  And if someone asks to help, manning the drink or dessert station is an easy job to give them and it’s fun!

I’m not a fan of doing so much work to prepare a meal and everyone gobbling it up and leaving the table! I love to sit and talk and laugh and linger over a meal and good libations! Thanksgiving is a meal to tarry over!

easy thanksgiving place setting great thanksgiving tips


If you are a guest for Thanksgiving dinner, it might be nice to check with the hostess and see if she could use some of your dishes or serving pieces. We do this in our family when we all get together!  Collectively we have a gorgeous and amazing stash!!!!!

If you don’t have enough of one kind of dishes for your Thanksgiving table MIX AND MATCH. Setting a table with a few different dish patterns that work well together is always gorgeous!!!!!! This is my favorite way to set a table! And a very practical Thanksgiving tip!!

If you are a guest this year, why not send your hostess a set of eight pretty dessert plates? Send them now so she can use them on Thanksgiving day! Look for a post next week with beautiful table ideas for Thanksgiving and sources.

easy thanksgiving tips. White dish on a tartan throw used as a tablecloth


Sometimes we need permission to use paper products for a big meal. So here it is…


There are so many fabulous paper dishes now! Very pretty styles and motifs! If it makes your life easier DO IT!

I happen to like cloth napkins, but I would also use some pretty paper ones especially for appetizers or drinks or desserts.

Do what YOU like and what works best for YOU! Don’t stress yourself out over the little details! Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks not to have your last nerve plucked! 

Here’s another idea if you are a guest… send some gorgeous matching paper products to your hostess! 

white pumpkins on an orange tartan blanket

Here are some pretty Thanksgiving paper goods that just might tempt you to go the paper route this year!


When decorating your Thanksgiving table think “simple”! I love to set very elaborate tables, but I think easy is best for Thanksgiving!

Shop your home and garden first and use what you have! If you need to get something new make sure it will work for other get-togethers too. 

I cut these brilliant golden branches from our ash tree in the front yard. Only leaves and pumpkins for this table. So easy to put together! I scattered some leaves on the table and added some to different glass cylinders to make a bountiful centerpiece!

I’m using the white pumpkins from around the house and yard and consolidating them on the table! Then when Thanksgiving is over I’ll cut the stems off the pumpkins and throw the rest of the pumpkin away!

Such easy clean-up!

yellow leaves on a tartan throw

Keep a centerpiece low enough so your guests can see over it to talk. I do have one tall glass cylinder with a few ash branches on the table, but it is wispy enough to see through it.

easy thanksgiving tip use fall leaves down the center of the table


Ask one of your guests to be in charge of activities around the Thanksgiving table. At StoneGable we have a tradition called THE LEGEND OF THE FIVE KERNELS OF CORN. If you’ve not read about it click HERE. There are lots of great games, fun facts, and puzzles to be found! 

Let everyone at your table have time to talk.  It’s fun to ask a question and let everyone answer it.  You can find some great questions HERE, and HERE,  and a fun quiz HERE.  

The Thanksgiving table is a wonderful place to learn the history of your family. Let the older generations tell stories and answer questions. It was at a Thanksgiving table long ago I learned that I come from the royal line of Gypsies! We have murders and horse thieves in our family! And as my Nani told it that is what made us royalty! We are no longer a practicing branch of gypsy royalty! LOL!

It’s important to engage everyone around your Thanksgiving table! A good hostess draws out the more quiet guests and gives the attention grabbing one a job to do so he/she does not steal the spotlight all dinner long!

One year, everyone at the table wrote 3 things we would like someone to pray for on our behalf during the year and three things we are thankful for. Everyone picked one card and prayed for those specific prayer requests and thanked God for those things we are grateful for. Just before Thanksgiving the next year I got a beautiful note from one of the guests at our table saying he was blessed to pray for me all year long. What a treasure!!!!!

If you are a guest this year, think about giving your hostess a set of Table Topics.  We love to use these fun conversation starters! It’s amazing what you will learn.

You can see Table Topics Conversation Starters HERE.

Thanksgiving table outdoors


Now for some very practical advice: MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE! Always start your Thanksgiving day planning early. Like right now! Use your mobile, laptop or good old paper and pencil! I like to use graph paper to make a timeline, menu, shopping list, guest list and anything else I need to remember!

I am a huge list maker! Lists help to keep me on track!

There is just something so rewarding about ticking a task off my list!

easy thanksgiving tips


Because we have out of town family I usually have a house of guests from Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving until the following Sunday or Monday. Here are some tips for hosting overnight guests…

white pumpkins and golden yellow leaves

If at all possible have someone come in and clean your home and guest rooms right before Thanksgiving! I know it’s an extra expense, but with all a hostess has to do it’s worth it! This keeps me sane! I have a friend who knows my home inside and out and she helps me!

Set up a self-serve continental breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Or better yet ask a family member or guest to do it for you! You can see an easy no cook-no fuss Thanksgiving continental breakfast HERE.

close up of white pumpkins and golden leaves

If you are an overnight guest during Thanksgiving volunteer to bring and set up an easy breakfast. It would be such a help to your hostess. Just discuss this in advance! No surprises!

Thanksgiving means leftovers! If you are having overnight or weekend guests make sure to make extra for leftovers! Everyone loves them! I usually make an additional small turkey a couple days before Thanksgiving to make sure I have enough turkey and stuffing for leftovers! I also like to send my guest home with a small bag of Thanksgiving leftovers! Chinese food containers work brilliantly for leftovers!

Our family has the most wonderful Black Friday tradition! We don’t go shopping! Instead, we wake up and all the women in the house raid the frig and sit around in our jammies drinking coffee and eating our favorite leftovers for breakfast while we chat and read holiday magazines. It’s so so so much fun! My breakfast always includes stuffing and gravy! YIKES! Breakfast usually goes well past noon and then we all take a nap!

Our guys are not left out of a Black Friday tradition. They go out to a diner for breakfast taking the children with them. And then they all go for a hike with cigars and kids and dogs!

Don’t forget lots and lots of baggies and aluminum foil and plastic wrap and containers for leftovers! Add those to your grocery list now!

thanksgiving tips

Don’t cook every meal if you have overnight guests! Eat out at least once and get take-out for another meal. Thanksgiving is such a huge meal let some of the other meals be easy!


We start our Christmas season off the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving by doing something Christmassy that the whole family would love since we are all together! It’s such a nice way to kick off the Christmas season!

Decorate a tree, rent a Christmas video, take a Christmas photo, go see a Christmas show or musical. This is a Thanksgiving/Christmas tradition.

One year when my sister was hosting Thanksgiving we all went on a Christmas candlelight tour of Mount Vernon. It was spectacular! Big or small the point is to be together and transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas!

Don’t forget to play some amazing Christmas music! 

Ancient Buchanan throw on table

Here are some nice things a guest can do if you are staying overnight:

  • Ask your hostess if you can strip the bed and take the bedding and towels down to the laundry room before leaving!
  • Leave a little Christmas gift in the room you stayed in for the hostess.
  • Empty the trash in the bathroom
  • If you have your own bathroom, give it a “swish and swipe” before you leave
  • Be the designated dishwasher for the Thanksgiving meal
  • Bring a beautiful live Christmas wreath for your host’s front door
  • Take your host and hostess out to dinner over the weekend and pick up the tab
  • Leave a beautiful Christmas book with a thank you note inside!
outdoor Thanksgiving table

Just writing about these savvy Thanksgiving tips has me so excited and inspired for Thanksgiving!

I wish you and all who grace your table a very very blessed and joyous Thanksgiving!

And if you are reading this you are on my list of “things to be thankful for” this year. I love you all and am deeply thankful for your loyalty to StoneGable and friendship to me!

This post contains affiliate links.

easy thanksgiving tips like set an easy table using a tartan thow for a tablecloth!

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  1. I absolutely love reading your posts! Today was especially fun! You have the best ideas and tricks and wonderful sense of humor! Today’s post just felt exciting! I’m not hosting Thanksgiving but almost wish I was so I could follow your helpful hints and experience the same pleasure and fun that you do! Thank you so very much!

  2. I love your idea of using leaves and branches on your Thanksgiving table. It is so easy and doesn’t cost anything. We have made the holiday a family event where everyone makes food and helps. It makes things easier.

  3. Great tips for Thanksgiving!

  4. Janet - shabbyfufu says:

    I love the plaid blanket on your table and dining al fresco is just the best! Happy weekend Yvonne

  5. Wonderful seeing a beautiful Thanksgiving celebration come to life with such beauty! Thanks Yvonne, you lifted my spirits this morning. Colleen

  6. Katherine says:

    Gorgeous table — LOVE the tartan and the leaves!

  7. Deb Wostmann says:

    I love, love, love Thanksgiving. Wonderful table and all helpful ideas. Thank you for bringing us into your home.

  8. Since I am SO sentimental, I love all the family traditions that go with the holidays! You provided some wonderful ideas for those who are just beginning traditions and great ones to add for those of us who have longstanding traditions. Thank you for the blessings you provide your readers!!!

  9. Norma Rolader says:

    Yvonne you are amazing!!!! All the decor, the meals,the traditions and your suggestions are wonderful and thank you and God bless Have a blessed weekend

  10. LOVED this post! I so enjoying being the hostess during the holidays. Last year we were in transition of moving to another state so we did not do Thanksgiving like we normally do. So this year I’m so excited about it! PS I think u forgot or maybe I didn’t read it but the annual Macy’s parade and the big football game!

  11. kathy olson says:

    I love all these tips! I especially liked the table you have here with the golden leaves and white pumpkins. I didn’t know you could put the branches in cold water…if I can find some around Thanksgiving, I am doing this! Thank you!

  12. What a great blog! You not only covered how to get through Thanksgiving with panache you inspired me to think about how wonderful it is to celebrate with family; instead of dwelling on all the work. I loved the idea of saying prayers for someone for the year. Really, Yvonne I think you thought of everything in this list. Bravo! Btw: listen to your podcast, too. You ladies are so fun and so helpful. Thanks for sharing all your ideas.

  13. I love cooking my Thanksgiving meal.I’ve been doing it for so many years I don’t stress it.It sounds like you have the day well organized too.Thanks for sharing all your tips and tricks with us.Love the dishes and tartan plaid throws.

  14. Yvonne! Those are some of the best Thanksgiving tips I’ve ever read! We never had to travel as just about everyone lived nearby but as we get ready to move to the farm, all that will change. I love your tips on the index cards with tasks written on them ( boy, could I have used that a couple of weeks ago for the wedding!) and the dish pans ?! You’ve made me excited for Thanksgiving as well. It has always been one of my favorite holidays.
    Pinning this for reference.

  15. This is a wonderful post chock full of great ideas, inspiration, beauty and blessings. Thank you for so generously sharing your thoughts and experiences. Happy thanksgiving to you and your family!!

  16. I am so pumped up about Thanksgiving after reading this post! Thanks for the inspiration, Yvonne!

  17. Good tips. I save many cottage cheese/yogurt/cool whip containers for leftovers to send home with folks. That way I’m not concerned with any of my everyday containers having to be returned.

  18. Sandra L Garth says:

    This lively post is filled with easy and needed tips. Veteran hostesses and newbies alike can benefit from these. I especially love your Christmas morning tradition. I may have to buy some Christmas jammies!

  19. Kim~madeinaday says:

    Wow what a thorough post! I think you have everything covered, what time should I be there! Lol. Love the yellow leaves on the table, so pretty! Sharing on Fb.Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Hope to see ya next week!

  20. These tips are wonderful. Thank you for sharing the conversation starters; they’ll definitely be used around our table this year.

  21. Brenda Attkisson says:

    This is a great post.Lots of great ideas..I look forward to reading your blog.

  22. I absolutely love your mix of plaid, white pumpkins and natural branches & leaves! Your table is stunning! Thanks so much for sharing with Merry Monday – I’ll be featuring your table at our upcoming party.

  23. Yvonne, I have been a subscriber for years and have admired your Antique Buchanan throw every time I see you use it. My husband and I went to Scotland in September and my goal was to find an Antique Buchanan throw or as the Scots call them rugs. I found one exactly like yours and love it. I then bought 3 more, another Antique Buchanan although the colors in it are a little different, and muted Stewart and a MacKenzie. Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Didn’t you LOVE Scotland? Yes they are called car rugs. Enjoy them they will last a lifetime.

  24. Are you hostessing this year having just moved? It took us all summer to move!

  25. Love all the great tips. Looking forward to seeing pictures at Thanksgiving and your family time at Tanglewood. Gosh I was hoping you would offer to make our dinners?. my niece has me doing all prep the day before including cooking my turkey. I was hesitant but honestly it is delish and so much less stressful. So many blessings for you this year.

  26. I like your Black Friday traditions, especially the women’s! I’ve never done much Black Friday shopping, anyway. And Hobby Lobby’s paper plates are so pretty that I decorate with them!

    Liberty @ B4andAfters.com