Try something different this year, but keep it simple. Change up a dish or two and have fun dressing up your table for Thanksgiving dinner.

Aside from the fact that the holiday revolves around giving thanks for food, most people probably love Thanksgiving for its many rich and almost predictable traditions. But if you’re entertaining this year, pick one dish or dessert to serve with a new twist to make it more fun for you, your family and guests. And try some new, not too difficult ideas for dressing up your table.

Dress – or spice – up your dressing

Dressing (or stuffing) is as much a Thanksgiving tradition as the turkey. Try a new twist this year with a twist on the recipe. Taste of the South Magazine has the ultimate southern cornbread stuffing recipe, adding two southern “staples,” bacon and pecans. Or spice up your dressing, especially if you’re serving only adults with tough digestive systems. Replace breakfast sausage with chorizo or another spicy sausage, and add about 4 ounces of diced green chile, from mild to hot, to your favorite stuffing recipe.

Or change up your dessert a little. Serve pumpkin cheesecake instead of pumpkin pie, or a pecan chocolate tart instead of standard pecan pie. Make that a sour cream, apple butter, or salted caramel apple pie. Have a traditional standby for those less willing to try something new, and likely delicious!

Dress up the table

Nothing says warm like the colors of autumn. And you can make your table festive or fancy with a few simple touches. If you want to use your best china, and it’s all white, add touches or color, or gold bling, in your centerpiece, napkin holders or candleholders. Sometimes, using only one other color can make for an elegant look, whether you choose a traditional Thanksgiving orange, cranberry, a more modern color to match your home’s décor, or whatever color you really like! You might find inspiration online or at your favorite hobby or import store.

There’s no rule saying everything has to match, especially if you’re serving more people than settings in your china or dinnerware pattern. Play up the mismatch with a few colored napkins or mismatches glasses or goblets.

Add some festive or fun touches just for this year. Spray chalkboard paint on an old or inexpensive metal tray. Then write a message in chalk such as “Happy Thanksgiving,” “Welcome Friends,” or “Give Thanks.” Use the tray to hold a few glasses or condiments in their own small glass containers; don’t set food directly on the paint.

Bring a new touch of color, theme or tone to the same place settings as years past with a new and simple centerpiece, adding natural objects, cut flowers or candles. If your centerpiece is too large, it will take up room for dishes or interfere with passing dishes, so keep that in mind. You might want to move it to a buffet or sideboard once dinner starts and replace it with a yummy carved bird.

Dress up the kids’ table too!

The kids’ table can be fun, but kids ought to have some of the fancy and décor as well. If you don’t use the best china, that’s fine. Maybe buy them some fun Thanksgiving-themed plastic or paper dinner sets. Have your own kids design Pilgrim-themed crafts to adorn the place settings or center of the table.

Or design a kids’ table runner or personalized placemats out of burlap, butcher paper or inexpensive neutrally colored placemats. By covering the entire table in white paper or butcher paper and placing a few decorative cups or containers of crayons in the middle, you give the kids a chance to create their own Thanksgiving décor and stay entertained during the long meal. 

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