Today on the blog, I’m sharing how to create a simple Thanksgiving table and a look at our menu for the big day.
Thanksgiving is different for a lot of us this year. Many of us are opting to stay home and keep our family gatherings small and intimate. With Covid cases on the rise, Mike and I decided to stay in this Thanksgiving and celebrate the holiday just us two. Oh sorry, Moose. Just us 3 :).
How to create a simple Thanksgiving table + our menu
Even though we couldn’t be with family and friends, I didn’t want our day to just feel like any other day. Taking the time to set a beautiful table and make our favorite holiday dishes are a couple of ways I ensured today felt special.
Simple Thanksgiving Day Table Decor
Setting a beautiful table for Thanksgiving isn’t usually on my to-do list. If we aren’t headed to spend the day with family, I’m usually directing my focus and energy into the kitchen and the menu we have planned for the day.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a beautifully decorated table but often find it doesn’t always lend itself to the way we entertain. We usually need the space on the table for all the food. We also find it easier for our guests to interact with each other when we keep our table decor simple and low key.
This year, because it’s just Mike and me, I wanted to do something a little extra special. Because of Covid, we haven’t been eating out or having people over and our dining room isn’t getting much love. With it being Thanksgiving, I wanted to elevate our day and create a beautiful but simple table for us to enjoy our meal together.
Knowing I was cooking us up a feast, I wanted to keep our Thanksgiving table decor simple and easy. Using things I had around the house, I pulled together a casual but elegant table. I’m sharing a look at our table below and my tips for creating a simple and beautiful spread.
Grab a table cloth
A quick and easy way to elevate any dining room table is to simply add a table cloth. A table cloth instantly dresses up any table and makes the meal feel extra special.
It’s also an easy and inexpensive way to change up the feel and vibe of the space. You can bring in pops of color, add pattern, or even texture to the room. It’s a great way to play around with different looks without having to make it permanent.
For our table, I knew I wanted to create a look that felt elegant and special while also being cozy and casual. To bring the cozy and warm vibes of the season, I added a thin blue and gray flannel throw from our living room.
To highlight the pattern in the throw and soften the look in the room, I wanted to lighten up our table. And since our table is dark wood, I did this by adding a drop cloth from Home Depot that we had in the basement. Layering the throw over the top of the drop cloth was an easy way to get a totally different look in the space for the day without spending any money. Creating the perfect jumping-off point for our casual but elegant look.
Pull out the good china
When entertaining guests in our home, I tend to focus more on the food rather than what the table looks like. I generally pull out our everyday dishes and call it good. They’re white dishes from Crate and Barrel that are basic and simple. Perfect for our every day but nothing special.
And since I was aiming to make this Thanksgiving extra special, I opted to pull out some of our china from the basement.
Creamy white dishes with a beautiful but simple gold band along the edges felt like the perfect touch. A slight elevation from our every day without being too over the top. Just what I was looking for.
For an easy and simple way to elevate your Thanksgiving this year and shake up your everyday routine, bust out that good china, girl!
Upgrade your napkins
Another easy and simple way to elevate your Thanksgiving table this year is to upgrade your napkins.
Like a table cloth, cloth napkins instantly add a bit of sophistication and elegance to any tablescape. They elevate even the most basic meal and make guests feel extra special.
I picked up some pretty white cloth napkins with a black scallop trim a few years ago during a Black Friday sale at Target and they’ve been in a drawer ever since.
Well, this year they got their chance to shine and looked beautiful tied with a simple wine-colored ribbon atop our gold-rimmed china.
Keep the table decor simple
The final tip for setting a simple Thanksgiving table is to keep the decor effortless. Look for things you already have on hand around your home and play around with the look until you get something you love. This is the fun part!
I’ve been growing quite the collection of brass candlesticks and decided to add them to our table. I created 2 groupings of them and used our new Flameless LED Taper Candles from Amazon. Easy and no hassle decor is some of my favorite decor!
In my opinion, no table is complete without some beautiful flowers. I love a fresh bouquet but didn’t feel like running out and spending the money this year. Instead, I gathered some of the dried hydrangea branches from our garden and threw them in a vase. Easy peasy.
What do you have floating around your home and in your garden that can be easily pulled together to create a simple but beautiful tablescape?
Our Thanksgiving Day menu
Even though it’s just Mike and I this year it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without our favorite holiday dishes. We picked a few of our must-have items, scaled down the size of our turkey, and did a little prep work beforehand to make the day smooth sailing.
Here’s what’s on our menu:
We are big turkey fans in the Lowe household and look forward to having a delicious turkey on Thanksgiving every year.
With it being just the two of us, I opted for a smaller bird. Making it easier to cook in less time while also allow giving us plenty of leftovers for the following week.
I wanted to inject as much flavor as possible while also keeping the prep work and cooking simple and easy. The theme of the day! I followed this recipe by Katie Lee for a Maple Sage Roasted Turkey that I found on Food Network. Super simple and very flavorful.
Let’s face it. Thanksgiving dinner is all about the sides. Staples in our household include stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn soufflé, and green beans.
For the stuffing, I actually made two batches this year. One for my brother and one for us. For my brother, I made Grandma’s Thanksgiving Day Stuffing from The Carefree Kitchen. When I went to make a batch for us, I followed this easy stuffing recipe instead from Spend with Pennies. Opting to go with one that didn’t have eggs and required less cooking time.
Corn soufflé has become a favorite of Mike’s over the years and this year I made two batches. For my brother, I made Corn Pudding by The Girl Who Ate Everything. This recipe uses Jiffy Cornbread mix which we grew up on and loved as kids. It baked up beautifully and the bite I snuck for quality control tasted delicious! For us, I made Mike’s favorite Sweet Corn Pudding recipe from The Neely’s on Food Network. A few more eggs, a bit of spice, and sharp white cheddar cheese make this extra creamy and delicious. A must try if you love corn!
I love green bean casserole but didn’t want to go through the hassle and work to make it. I also wanted a slightly healthier version and opted for a recipe by Ree Drummond for Green Beans and Tomatoes. It has bacon so it isn’t exactly super healthy but it’s definitely a lighter dish than the one I’m used to. The perfect balance when you want to indulgence without feeling heavy. I made these the night before and reheated them when we were ready to eat.
I didn’t do anything fancy with our mashed potatoes this year. Normally, I brown the butter to create beautifully mashed brown butter potatoes. It adds a delicious nutty flavor and is an easy way to elevate basic mashed potatoes. Because I was cooking for my brother and his kids as well this year, I opted for simple but decadent. Loads of butter, half and half, and sour cream added tons of rich creamy flavor. I made these the day before as well and reheated with a little extra butter and cream for good measure.
I did have one fail this year and that was my Yorkshire puddings. I’ve made them before without any issues but this year they just didn’t turn out right. They popped up as they should but the insides were a little too doughy. They were the last thing I made and I may have rushed through the process. You’re supposed to heat up the drippings and get them nice and hot and I rushed through this step. I had already caused our smoke detector to go off twice and didn’t want to risk it going off again and scaring Moose. He hates it and has a hard time settling down once it does.
I can’t forget about dessert on Thanksgiving! The plan was to make these chocolate soufflés that Mike loves. BUT, Mike surprised ME with his apple coffee cake and we had that instead. I think I’ll make the soufflé tonight though with our leftovers.
We have a few different cookies and treats in the freezer as well so I didn’t necessarily feel like I needed to go all out and make a ton of different things. I’m also planning on starting my Christmas baking here soon and will be adding even more to the freezer. No shortage of sugar over here!
If you want to see what Christmas cookies I made last year you can find them here.
Creating a simple and easy thanksgiving table
Whatever your Thanksgiving looked like this year I hope you were able to sit back, relax, and really enjoy it. Accepting it for what it is this year and making the best of it.
For us, I know it wasn’t the day filled with family and friends like we wanted but rather a much slower day that we probably needed. A day at our own pace with nowhere to be and time for Mike to unwind and relax after a couple of stressful and busy weeks at work.
We stayed in touch with family and friends through calls, texts, and FaceTime sessions and counted our blessings for all that we had.
Wishing you peace and health this holiday season!