Stage an Outdoors-Inspired Thanksgiving Dinner

Lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith creates a gorgeous Thanksgiving dinner where pumpkins, gourds, boxwoods and delights from the edible garden take center stage.

A symmetrical balance of form and color makes this table setting pop.

Tablescape Overview

A symmetrical balance of form and color makes this table setting pop.

Photo by: Hortus Ltd.

Hortus Ltd.

Your meals taste their best when you use fresh, local in-season ingredients. Why not bring this inspiring idea to your Thanksgiving table by hosting a farmers’ potluck-style gathering with family and friends?

table decor

Evergreen Clippings for Thanksgiving Tablescape

Clippings from your favorite evergreen plant will add a fresh spin to your arrangements.

Photo by: Hortus Ltd.

Hortus Ltd.

There are tons of hearty, flavorful vegetables and herbs that you can harvest straight from your garden this month, or at your local farmers' market. Some of my favorite fall seasonal fare includes: 

  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Winter Squash
  • Lettuce
  • Turnip Greens
  • Parsnips
  • Apples
  • Artichoke 
  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Mustard Greens

The options are endless with these delicious, savory choices but two of my favorite recipes for serving a large crowd comes from Chef Matthew Bell, owner of South on Main restaurant, one of the top upscale southern fare bistros in Little Rock, Arkansas. Start your meal off with this healthy, refreshing salad using kale, one of the most nutrient-rich vegetables around. This Kale Waldorf Salad can be doubled or tripled to suit your needs. It’s crisp, light, slightly sweet and very filling.

For dessert, chef Bell has a surefire crowd pleaser and a delicious spin on the traditional pumpkin pie, Pumpkin S'more Jars.

An Elegant Metallic Pumpkin and Gourd Tablescape

See All Photos

Shop This Look

Cooking is only half the fun when planning your farmers’ potluck gathering. Aim to create a tablescape that accents and enhances your farm-to-table theme.

thanksgiving table

Pumpkin-Centric Thanksgiving Tablescape

Pumpkins and gourds are bountiful this time of year, and you can never have too many in your Thanksgiving tablescape.

Photo by: Hortus Ltd.

Hortus Ltd.

Pumpkins and gourds are bountiful this time of year, and you can never have too many in your Thanksgiving tablescape.

Look for seasonal snippets from your garden to help transform your dinner table to a bountiful banquet. Go crazy with pumpkins and gourds, and think outside the box with metallic and chalkboard paint to create interesting color themes and textures. 

holiday tablescape

Neutral Table Runner

Choose a neutral table runner as the foundation for your centerpiece.

Photo by: Hortus Ltd.

Hortus Ltd.

Choose a neutral table runner as the foundation for your centerpiece.

I used my robin’s egg-hued farmhouse table as the inspiration for this tablescape. To achieve this elegant harvest look, collect an assortment of interesting green, white and gray pumpkin varieties and pepper in a few shiny painted metallic pumpkins.

thistle

Thistle for Holiday Decor

Thistle has great texture and color. Group it in a vase, or place stems sporadically through your arrangement.

Photo by: Hortus Ltd.

Hortus Ltd.

Thistle has great texture and color. Group it in a vase, or place stems sporadically through your arrangement.

To attain this enchanted silvery effect, alternate solid metallic spray paint with dabs of sponge-painted shiny silver, gold or bronze over the pumpkin’s natural skin. Let each layer completely dry before adding the next. Anchor the overall tablescape with a scattering of miniature pumpkins brushed with chalk paint for subtle texture in shades of pale blue, green and taupe. These elegant mini pumpkins can also double as place card holders.

Tuck in a sprig of something green, like a boxwood cutting, for sweet placeholders to delight your guests.

Thanksgiving Place Settings

Tuck in a sprig of something green, like a boxwood cutting, for sweet placeholders to delight your guests.

Photo by: Hortus Ltd.

Hortus Ltd.

Tuck in a sprig of something green, like a boxwood cutting, for sweet placeholders to delight your guests.

To give my rustic, farm table a more formal look I opted to create a boxwood topiary within pumpkins as centerpieces. I used artificial pumpkins on my tablescape, but feel free to explore transforming your garden pumpkins into live containers.

Create a Decorative Pumpkin and Boxwood Topiary

See All Photos
Follow these easy steps to create an utterly memorable Thanksgiving tablescape.

Shop This Look

Pumpkins can be transformed into so many decorative accents.

table centerpiece

Add Candles to Your Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Don’t forget to set the mood with lighting. Place a few unscented candles in votives for a soft, warm glow.

Photo by: Hortus Ltd.

Hortus Ltd.

If you plan on serving champagne or white wine at your gathering, consider creating a pumpkin ice bucket to keep your bubbly chilled. To create this harvest-chic cooler, hollow out a creamy white Lumina pumpkin. Remove the top of the pumpkin, just as you would when making a jack-o-lantern. Scoop out the seeds and pulp and discard, and fill with ice and a bottle of your favorite beverage. Pop the top and let the bountiful spirit flow!

pumpkin cooler

Pumpkin Cooler

Hollowed out pumpkins are great to chill champagne.

Photo by: Hortus Ltd.

Hortus Ltd.

Hollowed out pumpkins are great to chill champagne.

Next Up

12 Festive Friendsgiving Decorations

Host your besties for a fall feast with our favorite Friendsgiving decorations and ideas.

10 Tips to Make This Thanksgiving the Best One Yet

Host Thanksgiving like a pro with these time-saving and stress-cutting ideas.

Smoked, Grilled or Fried? How to Cook the Best Turkey Ever

Here's everything you need to free up the oven for other things and still make Turkey Day magic.

How to Make Dipped Candy Apple Party Favors

Rustic yet refined embellishments like a sprig of gilded greenery and a leaf-shaped kraft paper tag make these candy-coated apples a casually elegant, yet affordable DIY favor. Give them out as take-home treats at your next gathering or package them up as pretty, edible holiday gifts.

Make Your Own Pomander Balls

Bring the scents and sights of Christmas to your holiday table with fresh citrus and cloves.

Make More Than One of These Creepy Clay Eyeball Planters

If these eerie air-dry clay and espresso-dyed eyeball planters don't cast the perfect Halloween spell, we don't know what will.

Create Your Own Party-Perfect Charcuterie + Cheese Board

Whip up an inexpensive wood conditioner and sealant to turn a hardwood board into a foodsafe surface for feeding a crowd.

Punny Stamped Terra-Cotta Pots for Mother's Day

Gift your mom an indoor garden complete with puns to show her how much you love her.

12 Best Pumpkin Carving Kits and Tools

Get in the Halloween spirit with these top-rated pumpkin carving kits for kids, adults and aspiring artists.

How to Make a Skeleton Cookie Charcuterie Board for Halloween

Frighten up your Halloween party table with this scary-cute skeleton bone cookie board. The spaces between the cookies overflow with sweet and salty treats to create an interactive, crowd-pleasing dessert display.

More from:

Thanksgiving Ideas

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.