The Best of | Celebrations

18 Thanksgiving Ideas You’ll Thank Us For

We all have Thanksgiving traditions, whether it’s a dish that everyone looks forward to all year long or Grandpa’s speech that kicks off the meal. When it comes to a holiday so steeped in custom, friends and family know exactly what to expect when they arrive on your doorstep. That’s comforting — if a bit boring.

Why not add some new traditions to surprise and delight your guests? We’ve got 18 Thanksgiving ideas that will make your guests give thanks that they’re at your holiday gathering. From creative table layouts to making your loved ones feel good, we’ve found the best ideas from real Thanksgiving (and Friendsgiving) gatherings. Read on to find some new ways to host this age-old celebration.

San Francisco, CA

Grand entrances aren’t just for weddings. This Friendsgiving celebration warmly welcomed — through a floral-flanked entrance — 50 women for networking and support during the hectic holiday season. We love how a beautiful entryway sets the tone for an even more beautiful gathering.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Milou & Olin Photography | event planner + designer: Danielle Gibson Events | florals: Kuga Designs Florals | venue: Cerf Club, San Francisco | catering: Stag Dining | pies: Chile Pie Baking Co | videography: Minute Media Productions | signs: Vine Country Signs | host: Take Time to Toast

Paradise Valley, AZ

Thanksgiving happens on the fourth Thursday of each November — that we can count on. Far less predictable is the weather, which can range from sunny and crisp to overcast and soggy. We love a solid bad weather backup plan that’s also beautiful, and this clear tent protects guests while making magic with string lights and rustic wood chandeliers. 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Harley Bonham | caterer: M Culinary Concepts | event rentals: Bright Event Rentals

Los Angeles, CA

Even if you’re celebrating in a warmer climate, you can infuse your Thanksgiving décor with traditional fall hues. We adore how this gathering brought in colorful foliage with autumn trees and branches to both the backyard and indoor settings.

The vendors who made this event happen: 

event planner & production: Harper Sloane Productions  | design: Revelry Event Designers | floral: Jackson Shrubbery; Jeff Leatham | tabletops: Casa De Perrin | pumpkins: Underwood Family Farm | linen: A2B Table | caterer: Chef Kashi Lee

Miami, FL

Instead of separate tables, consider having all guests face each other by arranging seating more creatively. We adore how this rustic-chic Thanksgiving dinner keeps the centerpieces low and the conversation flowing.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photo courtesy of, event planner, design & décor: Plan Design Events | linen: Nuage Designs | rentals: Events on the Loose & Atlas Event Rental | caterer: Epicure Artisian Events

Lake Forest, IL

Consider your guests: Who hasn’t seen each other in a while? Who might have something in common? Create interesting conversation with assigned seats — and do it beautifully with creative place cards. We love how these place cards remind guests they are loved, while also creating a sensory experience with dried herbs and orange slices.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photo courtesy of & event planner: Stacey Moe Eventsvintage rentals: Relics Vintage Rentals

Chicago, IL

We love the idea of seating guests with words of gratefulness. The sweet signage at this Thanksgiving soirée reminds friends and family (in clever fashion) that the host is happy to be spending the holidays with them.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Nicole Jansma Photography | design: A Perfect Event | venue: DL Loft | linen: Windy City Linen | rentals: Hall’s Rental Service, Inc

 

 

Chicago, IL

Velvet manages to be both glamorous and cozy, the perfect mix for a fall celebration. We adore how this Thanksgiving gathering brought velvet to the tabletops in multiple vibrant hues on mini pumpkins and as wraps for the terra cotta pots. We also appreciate the sustainability of utilizing plants as décor — you can even allow guests to take them home afterwards.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: gerber + scarpelli photography | event design & florals: A Perfect Event | venue: DL Loft

Los Angeles, CA

Whether it’s your tablecloth, runner, or napkins, table linen offers the perfect opportunity to infuse interesting patterns into your Thanksgiving décor. We like how this black-and-white checked table runner brings a modern touch to vintage pink florals and greenery.

The vendors who made this event happen: 

photographer: Jillian Rose Photography | florals: Bloominous | paper goods: xowyo paper and press | caterer: Colette’s Catering & Events | venue: Lombardi House | rentals: Signature Party Rentals | production/pr: Be Inspired PR

Napa, CA

There’s no need to ensure you have enough matching plates, napkins, and more for guests. In fact, place settings are much more interesting when mixed and matched. We love how this Thanksgiving tablescape varies florals, linen texture and hues, as well as the napkin holders and even the dishes to stunningly gorgeous effect.

The vendors who made this event happen: 

photographer: Milou & Olin Photographyevent planner: Danielle Gibson Events | floral design: Scarlette & Grace | winery: St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Wineryvideography: Giggle and Riot Funbooths | paper products: Blushtype

Los Angeles, CA

After looking at thousands of celebratory photos, one thing is clear — glasses don’t need to be, well, clear. We adore how hued glassware can coordinate with table décor for a cohesive vibe. The smoky wine goblets at this Thanksgiving gathering made a modern statement.

The vendors who made this event happen: 

photographer: Jillian Rose Photography | florals: Bloominous | paper goods: xowyo paper and press | caterer: Colette’s Catering & Events | venue: Lombardi House | rentals: Signature Party Rentals | production/pr: Be Inspired PR

Miami, FL

Sure, you can spend the afternoon and evening keeping your guests’ goblets full, but what a treat for you and your friends and family to be pampered by expertly-mixed sips. Setting up a bar and a mixologist not only frees your time, but make a Thanksgiving dinner feel extra special. While you’re at it, offer a signature cocktail—something with cranberries, maybe?

The vendors who made this event happen:

photo courtesy of, event planner, design & décor: Plan Design Events | linen: Nuage Designs | rentals: Events on the Loose & Atlas Event Rental | caterer: Epicure Artisian Events

Chicago, IL

A descriptive menu allows guests to eagerly anticipate the delectable meal to come. While you’re at it, why not get creative with your menu and place it in an unexpected place? We like the cleverness of this menu printed on the bread sleeve, meaning guests are greeted with their roll and highlights of the meal to come at the same time.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: gerber + scarpelli photography | event design & florals: A Perfect Event | venue: DL Loft

Miami, FL

Gluten-free? Vegan? Lactose-intolerant? Cool chalkboard-like signage keeps guests safe while they graze on your holiday fare. The menu for this Thanksgiving gathering — including roasted root vegetables, marinated Kalamata olives, and warm New England-style seafood chowder — makes us wish we were invited.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photo courtesy of & caterer: Joy Wallace Catering

Paradise Valley, AZ

Turkey represents tradition, sure, but you can impress guests with additional offerings that wow. We appreciate the extensive menu at this beautiful backyard Thanksgiving gathering, as it includes crab legs and tuna tartare, lobster, and morebringing a coastal vibe to the fall table.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Harley Bonham | caterer: M Culinary Concepts | event rentals: Bright Event Rentals

Los Angeles, CA

If you focus your fare on seasonally-available produce, you’ll quite naturally “taste the rainbow” (thanks, Skittles). Consider how your Thanksgiving menu items will complement each other on the plate to engage the senses — remember we also “eat” with our eyes.

The vendors who made this event happen: 

photographer: Jillian Rose Photography | florals: Bloominous | paper goods: xowyo paper and press | caterer: Colette’s Catering & Events | venue: Lombardi House | rentals: Signature Party Rentals | production/pr: Be Inspired PR

Miami, FL

This autumn take on Tic-Tac-Toe has us oohing and aahing. What a clever take on an outdoor activity from organic, seasonal materials. We imagine kids and adults alike rearranging these pumpkins into winning order.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photo courtesy of & caterer: Joy Wallace Catering

Los Angeles, CA

Of course, guests will naturally gather around the table for good food and conversation; but a great host ensures there are additional communal areas. We like how this Canadian Thanksgiving offers groupings of couches and chairs on the lawn (ah, LA in November) for friends and family to mix and mingle.

The vendors who made this event happen: 

event planner & production: Harper Sloane Productions  | design: Revelry Event Designers | floral: Jackson Shrubbery; Jeff Leatham | tabletops: Casa De Perrin | pumpkins: Underwood Family Farm | linen: A2B Table | caterer: Chef Kashi Lee

Chicago, IL

We’ve talked about how every element on your table creates an impact — from glassware and dishes to linen and florals. But we want to remind you that candles can do more than add a dreamy vibe; they can bring vibrant color, as well. We love how these hobnail glass votives infuse jewel tones into the tablescape.

The vendors who made this event happen: 

photo courtesy of & design & décor: A Perfect Event


People Also Ask…

What are some Thanksgiving day traditions?

Some popular Thanksgiving traditions include: sharing what we’re grateful for, breaking the wishbone for luck, watching a parade and/or football, participating in a run (or “turkey trot”), and more. We also appreciate coordinating a holiday giveback — whether that means donating to a food bank, inviting a lone neighbor to join your festivities, or serving at a soup kitchen.

How can I start planning my Thanksgiving gathering?

There’s no question that hosting a large group — even comprised of your most beloved friends and family — can be stressful. We always suggest choosing the tasks you find most intimidating or challenging and outsourcing them to professionals.

Hire an event planner to coordinate the guests, timeline, and other vendors. Choose a décor and floral company to create a beautiful entrance and tablescape. Find rentals in your area for additional tables, dishes, coordinating chairs, lounge areas, and linen. Hire a photographer to not only capture the day, but for posed portraits while your loved ones are all together.

And, of course, one of the bigger jobs of the day, feeding your brood, can be given to a top caterer. A skilled catering team will work with you to plan a menu of fare that wows while accommodating all of the dietary preferences and restrictions of the group, allowing you to relax and enjoy the holiday.