“We are very much traditionalist,” says Dan Kennedy on where he finds inspiration for his annual Thanksgiving tablescape. “We don’t live in the past,” he adds, “but we embrace family heirlooms.” Each year, the pièce de résistance at Kennedy's is the vintage china set—'His Majesty' by Johnson Brothers, which features a regal turkey motif—that Kennedy’s partner’s parents purchased on their honeymoon in 1956. Despite the fall-themed dinnerware, Kennedy notes that you don’t need to stick to orange, gold, and brown hues to create an autumnal feeling at your Thanksgiving table. “Using burgundy, cream, blue, and green can give the feeling of fall, as long as you keep it light and neutral,” explains Kennedy. “Choosing a color palette that will reflect or compliment your china is key.”
To add both color and texture to the table, Kennedy employs patterned tablecloths and napkins. For this table setting, he chose an ivory damask cloth that he had customized to fit his table along with matching napkins that tie everything together. Kennedy suggests bringing the outdoors in with floral elements designed to create a natural look—in addition to local flowers, think branches, grasses, and mosses. “Depending on the energy of your event, you can add elegance with crystal glassware, which gives an organic floral arrangement a more formal look and feel,” Kennedy says. Remember to take height into consideration: it’s important to keep the floral arrangement the center of attention without impacting the view of guests when seated at the table.
Simply folding a napkin, placing it on the plate, and adding a single flower or herb stem will elevate your Thanksgiving table in an instant. Kennedy explains that using napkin rings will take simple cloth napkins to the next level. “We like to use place markers with each guest’s name,” he continues, noting that such a minor detail can make a huge difference in creating a special ambiance for the holiday. “Another easy way to bump up a simple tablescape is by adding a few taper and votive candles. Dimming the lights will give the room a warm, romantic feeling for your Thanksgiving feast.”