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The Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape

A celebrity event designer shares his tips for creating the chicest holiday display

When it comes to hosting Thanksgiving dinner, how you adorn your table is almost as important as the food the sits among the décor. It’s important to honor the theme of the evening, but taking it too far can cross the line between chic and cliché.

Here to help is Los Angeles-based event designer Tony Schubert, who has orchestrated the planning for some of Hollywood’s biggest parties of the year. Below, he tackles everything from shopping for decorations to scaling design down for a kids’ table. 

Creating a Thanksgiving tablescape seems so intimidating! How do you keep the theme alive without going overboard?

The most important consideration when creating your Thanksgiving tablescape is to make it your own. For our Thanksgiving table, we love to decorate with fall branches sourced from the local florist and strategically place them in tall glass vessels from any floral supply company. You never have to feel intimidated about placement, as almost any fall décor will look amazing.

Are there height restrictions for pieces on the table?

I’m a fan of utilizing various heights to create a truly memorable, original table. Do keep in mind your guests’ seating and either stay low enough for cross-table engagement or go tall and thin with a lovely fall floral arrangement in a gorgeous vase with a large bloom at the top.

Holiday taplescape

Holiday tablescape

It’s easy to go overboard and suddenly there’s no room for food! How can a host tell when the tablescape is done or know when it needs a little bit more?

This is so very true.  I recommend dressing your table completely, including the serving vessels, platters and so forth to get a true sense of balance before your guests arrive. Do a dry run so you know you’ve left enough room for glassware and flatware and know exactly where everything will be placed.

Where are some great places to shop for objects to decorate with?

I highly recommend Kelly Wearstler, who has an amazing home collection of table top décor.  Also, Aerin has a beautiful line through Neiman’s, and we also like to mix it up with select antique china from 1stdibs.com.

Do you ever recommend a DIY touch or can that get really cheesy really fast?

DIY can work well if you feel confident in your design. When formally entertaining for the holidays, feel free to try new ideas, but keep in mind your overall décor theme to maintain a luxurious environment.

Edible items in a tablescape: A do or a don’t? 

Generally, this is never a good idea.  But you can get away with a fun chocolate display for desert.

How can someone transition their general look to be appropriate for a kids’ table as well?

I recommend continuing your theme and just translating it into a smaller version.  Continue your fall décor to their tabletop—it will make them feel included in the celebration. This way, everyone can enjoy.


All photographs courtesy of Kelly Wearstler