Thanksgiving is definitely a meal to break out your best tablecloth and china. On the other hand, you also want people to feel comfortable, particularly if you're hosting a group of "Thanksgiving orphans", like I did this year.
My goal was to balance an air of specialness with a dose of down-home warmth. Here're some of the things I did:
My table was a mix of fancy and not. I used my Lenox china pattern (Hayward - a simple gold-banded ivory china) and Waterford crystal (Clara, a discontinued pattern). To bring things down to earth, I covered the table with a simple ivory linen cloth and used brown napkins. I mixed and matched serving pieces - including decanting the ruby-colored homemade cranberry relish into a Mason jar!
Chunky candles and real fruit in the cornucopia added to the warmth. I actually had to look pretty hard to find a cornucopia that wasn't already filled with fake fruit and flowers; I ordered this one for about $20 (with shipping) from Cost Plus World Market.
I found these elegant leaf place cards at Papyrus. My daughter wrote the names on them by hand.
Note: These pics were taken by one of my guests, all rights reserved.