Chalkboards add a playful decorative element to any get-together. They're not only inexpensive, but also can be used repeatedly for different holidays and family events. Put your creative skills to work by writing "Happy Thanksgiving" on yours and displaying it near the spread to get guests in the holiday spirit. Have friends and family pose by the chalkboard sign for a souvenir photo op.
DIY Twig Table Runner
Take your Thanksgiving table to the next level by making your own rustic (and nearly free!) runner. Easy to craft — and a perfect project for kids to help with — this runner adds to the table's outdoorsy feel and can be rolled up and stored away for use year after year.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup With Fried Sage Leaves
No fall meal is complete without a piping-hot bowl of soup. A spiced-up version of the Thanksgiving favorite, this curried butternut squash soup is a warm and creamy addition to your meal. Serve in a large footed tureen and let guests serve themselves. Get the recipe
Go For a Layered Look
Create a gorgeous place setting using pieces that are rustic and autumnal yet still have a modern edge. Wooden chargers are the perfect anchor for a sleek white dinner plate and bowl while vintage gold flatware adds glitz and natural linen napkins work anytime of the year. Keep in mind that the dinner plate and bowl needn't be from the same set — mixing and matching color and texture adds to the table's organic feel.
Golden Raisin and Cranberry Chutney
Friends don't let friends serve cranberry sauce from a can! For a homemade take on Thanksgiving's signature condiment, serve this not-too-sweet version. Get the recipe
Craft Your Own Centerpiece
No Thanksgiving table is complete without a centerpiece. Create an arrangement that features fall's richest colors and textures that incorporates fresh greenery from your own backyard. Rather than an over-the-top floral arrangement in a tall vase, keep the arrangement low so guests can see each other and chat across the table.
Southwestern-Style Poblano Cornbread Stuffing
Take everyone's favorite side dish up a notch by preparing this flavorful twist on your standard stuffing. Poblano peppers and cornbread come together to create a Thanksgiving dish that will keep guests coming back for seconds — and even thirds! Get the recipe
Easy-to-Craft Pomegranate Place Cards
Keep your dinner drama-free and avoid a game of musical chairs by setting out place cards for your guests. For a look that's both seasonal and sleek, make these gilded place-card holders by spraying pomegranates with metallic paint, then inserting a handwritten place card in the crown. Inexpensive and homemade, they're the perfect way to make your place setting feel extra special. Get step-by-step instructions
Individual Maple Sweet Potato Soufflés
Sweet potatoes, maple syrup and toasted pecans combine for an indulgent treat that's sure to please even the pickiest palette. Prepared individually in ramekins, they make for easy serving. Get the recipe
Set the scene by scattering gilded natural elements down the length of the runner. Collect different leaves, pinecones, berries or whatever else nature is offering, and give each a light coat of gold spray paint for a touch of glitz.
Opt for Streamlined Glassware
For a modern touch, set out fuss-free water glasses and stemless wineglasses. Be sure to keep the wine flowing and have a healthy selection of red and white on hand, and place pitchers of water on the table to make refilling super easy.
Sage Roasted Turkey With a Crunchy Maple Crust
For the star of the Thanksgiving meal, give guests a savory-meets-sweet main course that they won't soon forget. Rather than serving a traditional turkey, mix things up by making this drool-worthy bird. Get the recipe
Carve the Bird Like a Pro
Your first time carving a turkey can be a pressure-packed moment. To properly do the job, you'll need a chef's knife or carving knife, a carving fork and a boning knife. First, separate the legs and wings from the body. Then to carve the breast, find the breastbone and carve down one side, peeling the breast away from the bone as you go. Serve all pieces on a large platter for guests to choose.
Craft Your Own Menu
For the hostess who leaves no stone unturned, enlist the talents of a family member with artistic handwriting or, even better, calligraphy skills to create a gorgeous menu card. Display at each place setting or pass around the table to jump-start guests' appetites and get them excited for the main event.
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts With Cranberries and Pine Nuts
Part of what makes the holidays so special is the extra love and effort that goes into the menu. Dishes overflowing with color and flavor are key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner — and this take on Brussels sprouts is sure to get your guests' attention. The healthy veggies are shredded, sautéed, tossed with cranberries and pine nuts, then topped with fresh orange zest for a dish that's bursting with bright flavors. Get the recipe
Break Out the Good China
Thanksgiving is all about tradition, so incorporate a bit of your family's history into the table by using heirloom china. If you like the look but your inventory of vintage pieces is lacking, scour local antique stores and thrift shops to start your own collection.
All in the Family
Because Thanksgiving is about spending quality time with loved ones, serve dishes family-style, allowing guests to interact and share much more than a buffet does. Simply set your large serving dishes out down the length of the table with serving spoons, and let guests pass them throughout the meal.
Share Why You're Thankful
Besides the turkey, Thanksgiving's other favorite tradition is going around the table and sharing what you're most thankful for. Think up an organized or clever way for guests to share (like writing it down), or simply take turns listening to each guest.
Save Room for Dessert
If your appetites will still allow it, set dessert out on the table after dinner with dessert plates and forks so guests can help themselves. Serve alongside coffee and piping-hot cider for the last stretch in your marathon meal.
Pumpkin Tiramisu Layer Cake
This fresh take on the Italian classic encompasses everything we love about Thanksgiving: the rich, sweet flavor of coffee, brandy and chocolate combined with the seasonal flavor of pumpkin. Top with a generous sprinkle of amaretti cookies for crunch before serving. Get the recipe