Two Story Cottage

Thanksgiving Place Setting

Dear Friends,

The pool just closed and school has barely begun, but it is already THAT time of year.  Because I’m a tried and true procrastinator, Christmas is not even on my radar yet.  I’ve got a Thanksgiving post today, and this is beat-the-crowd early by my standards.

I enjoy making place settings for holidays.  I’m not a master but I have a few tips I’ve picked up for a casual affair.  Of course, these are bring the kids- messy hands and all- celebrations.  The livelier the better.


What is a fun table without a few handmade elements?  I picked up a wood tree slab from Michael’s for a easy little stamping project.  It was in the neighborhood of $5 plus a package of alphabet stamps that you can also find for $3.99.  Is it just me or has Michael’s upped the ante as of late?  Pretty good bargains.


For a strong homemade look, the more imperfect the better.  Rather than bundle the letters with a rubber band, stamp one at the time for more of a haphazard vintage vibe.  Once your letters are stamped, go for your sanding block and don’t be afraid to go to town.  I sanded it until it was downright faded.


I love the rustic element the wood adds!  I think two or even three on a table would look wonderful.   There are many autumn words that would fit the bill perfectly.   I don’t recommend staining the wood, fyi, as it is very porous and will not wipe off as evidenced by the other side of the project.


I also grabbed a leaf stamp at Michael’s from the dollar bin.  I’m even more tempted by that aisle than I am by Target’s dollar section.  Michael’s also has a large selection of gift tags which are perfect for place cards.  Instead of stamping with ink, I used gold paint  left over from the gold-dipped lamp project which saved me a couple bucks.

I applied the same philosophy for the leaf as I did the stamps.  The goal was not a professional-looking stamped leaf, but a hand-painted beauty with variations.  Think snowflakes, where one is not like the other.  Don’t worry if the dog chews on your foam brush- you can still use it as evidenced above.

Cover the stamp with paint but be careful not to glob on too much.  Practicing on a piece of paper might help you get the look you want.   The best part?  It is up to you.  Maybe you want a faded leaf or something more even.  Both are easy to accomplish.


I used the back for names and an “I am thankful for you because…” sentence or two regarding that person.  Personalized warm & fuzzy messages are a great sentiment for Thanksgiving.


Grocery store flowers are my favorite.  Those were $3.99 and I actually got 2+ containers filled with them.  Short glass vases are great for making a small bunch go a long way.


Did you notice the cotton gift bag in the teacup?  I think it is fun to have little presents at the children’s place settings.  A holiday ornament is perfect for the occasion.  Of course, grown-ups like gifts too, so spread the love if you want.


For a casual table, use a variety of elements.  I dressed down our fine china by including cream salad plates that are less fancy.  The stemware went out the window, although I do like to use it at Christmas.   The table runner is a fabric remnant, ironed but not sewn.  Bundles of wheat add a little texture.

The bottom line?  Don’t be afraid to lose the traditional look this Thanksgiving. Embrace the old but incorporate more modern elements.  Add a touch of handmade.   Keep it casual, fun, and simple.

This holiday season I hope you find less stress and more joy.  Relaxing the rules a little can help achieve that balance!



  1. Erin, I really love your Thanksgiving table setting! I especially like the way you mixed various natural elements with your china. Also, the personalized notes on your handwritten placecards are such a sweet idea! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and thanks for the great ideas!

  2. These are some of the best kitchen table establishment I’ve ever seen. Beautifully structured and well decorated – a worthy setup to own. Thanks for sharing this post with us!

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