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4 Easy Steps to Upgrade Your Thanksgiving Tablescape

Local design pro Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey reveals her secrets for creating a festive holiday scene.

Photographs by Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey.

The turkey may be the most important thing on your table come Thanksgiving Day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your decor some thought, too. We checked in with local interior designer Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey of SCW Interiors to get some tips on how to create a festive atmosphere for giving thanks. The key? Cavin-Winfrey says the surest way to a perfect tablescape is to let your existing decor dictate your direction. “If your dining room walls are pink, then there should be a pink element to your table,” she says. But she does have one hard-and-fast rule: When it comes to your table, don’t use red. “It’s disastrous—unless it’s Valentine’s Day or Christmas,” she says.

Whether you want to go big and use ’em all or keep it simple with just one, read on for more of Cavin-Winfrey’s tips for sprucing up the Turkey Day table.

1) Placemat Photo Collage
A combination of wax paper, vibrant leaves, and old photos of dinner guests can create a table runner that inspires memories from years past. Simply press the leaves and pictures between the paper, then run it vertically down the center of the table. “Create a collage with the leaves so you’ve got a really neat patchwork,” Cavin-Winfrey says.

2) I’m Thankful for . . .
Write this phrase at the top of a note card (or buy these) and place one at each table setting in a Mason jar or dish, along with a pencil. Read them out loud and see if guests can figure out who authored each one.

3) Go for Gourds
There’s no time like Thanksgiving to load your dining room with fall’s colorful produce. Stop by your local pumpkin patch or farmstand to pick up some baby pumpkins, then arrange them on the table or in a bowl as a centerpiece. Add a few flowers for balance, and make sure to keep the arrangement low so it doesn’t block conversation.

4) Rustic Lighting
“Candlelight is always really important,” Cavin-Woodfrey says. Wrapping some straw or twigs around a candelabra will introduce rustic touches into a formal dining room setting. Apartment-bound with no woods in sight? Take the easy way out with this West Elm black aluminum faux-manzanita candelabra, $99.