Some rely on foraged elements, while others are entirely styled to perfection.

By Claire Sullivan and Eleni Gage
Updated October 24, 2019
Metallic Place Card Setting
Credit: Graham Pollack

There are so many ways to craft a unique Thanksgiving place setting for each one of your guests, many of which are then displayed beautifully in personalized touches. But the most elegant place card displays are those involving a subtle touch of what we like to call napkin art: You can wrap 'em, twist 'em up, and when to go for fun. Others are as easy as a quick forage outside (enlisting the help of your youngest guests) for autumnal nuts, river rocks, and brilliantly colored leaves. Dress up your Thanksgiving table settings with these place cards and table setting ideas that add a big serving of personality to any tablescape. We're sharing our editors' go-to sweet and simple techniques that you can pull off in the days leading up to Thanksgiving; shuffle through them, we're betting you'll find a winner for your dinner.

Golden Touches

Warm metallic accents and a little greenery bring out the sparkle in earthy, neutral plates in our first place setting above. The sleek, modern flatware coordinates with the surprise tool that we chose to fasten the magnolia-leaf napkin band: a knitting needle. To assemble it, simply punch holes at either end of the leaf with a hole punch and write a guest's name with a gold paint pen. Then set the leaf atop the napkin, and thread the needle into the leaf, underneath the napkin, and back up through the leaf to secure it.

Elegance to the Letter

An indigo dinner napkin punctuates any classic blue-and-white pattern. To turn it into an invitation for guests to take a seat, fold it envelope-style, slide a handwritten menu inside, and secure it with a wax seal featuring a family initial. (Keep linens pristine by making seals on wax paper, then sticking them to "envelopes" with double-sided tape.) To polish off the scene, break out your finest silver.

Pink bow place setting
Credit: Graham Pollack

Anything-But-Black Tie

If you like to live on the bright side, dress up your colorful patterned plates with matte-finish flatware and a charming bow topper: Cinch a napkin in the middle using a playful elastic adorned with wooden beads. Add a circle name tag for each guest to round out the look.

Fringe Napkin Thanksgiving Place Setting
Credit: Kirsten Francis, Martha Stewart Living November 2019

No-Frills Fringe

Snip a yard of fringe trim, secured in advance from the crafts store, into seven-inch pieces. Then, poke a hole at each end with an awl, wrap them around your choice of rolled-up linen napkins, and secure with a screw-back brass clasp. You can lay a place card adjacent to the fringe pin or simply pin it beneath the fringe altogether.

Leather Washer Thanksgiving Place Setting
Credit: Kirsten Francis, Martha Stewart Living November 2019

Upcycled Leather

A leather washer used in bike repairs is the thing of beauty here. Just attach a leather cord to the leather ring using a lanyard hitch, and knot the loose ends around a napkin.

Rock Earthly Place Setting
Credit: Graham Pollack

Serene and Centered

The subtle shades and textures of marble (or stone) dinnerware make a great backdrop for a concept cut from a similar cloth. Personalize smooth river rocks with each guest's name, spelled out in gold stickers. Then up the zen glow further with shining cutlery, sepia-tone glasses, and soft oatmeal-colored linens. When the meal's over, encourage everyone to slip her keepsake into her pocket.

Mushroom plate orange place setting
Credit: Graham Pollack

Foraged with Flair

To enliven a rustic look, fall for this butternut-and-amber color palette, which offers a contemporary spin on autumn's traditional deep oranges and browns. Set the scene with vibrant linens, glasses, and wood-handled flatware, and arrange a woodsy welcome: We nestled a small teak bowl of nuts and acorns near the plate's glorious mushroom, and tucked names written on slips of paper into walnut shells.


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