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How to Set a Fantastic Fall Table

Sep 14th 2023

You’ve seen the pictures: Beautifully set dining tables, perfect in every detail. Looks nothing like your own table, currently cluttered with mail, homework, a phone charging cord and maybe a salt and pepper shaker, does it?

Even if there are only a few times a year when you want your dining table to look like it was set by a designer, chances are Thanksgiving is one of those days. But if you’ve had little to no practice putting together a complete tablescape, how do you achieve the look?

maple leaf napkin rings

How to Design a Fall Tablescape

Clear the table and start with these four tips:

1.  Examine What You Have 

Try to find at least one thing you already own as an inspiration piece. Maybe it’s grandma’s gold trimmed turkey platter or amber glass goblets, a classic fall tablecloth or a stylish set of napkin rings. Whatever it is, something about it – the color, pattern, texture, sentiment – speaks to you. Let that something be your guide to tying in the rest of your fall table decor.

pumpkin decorations

2.  Explore Color

Autumn is colorful! Now is the time to play with your internal crayon box (you know you have one.) Build a traditional table with classic fall colors like deep brown, berry reds, pumpkin, russet and olive. Or go boho with vibrant oranges, golds, deep purple and lime green. Drop in a touch of pink for extra punch. Even farmhouse tables, with their muted tones, can carry on a conversation with natural colors like sage, butternut, artichoke, pomegranate or cinnamon.

set of three distressed white and brown wooden fall fruit tabletop decorations

3.  Add Texture 

Add texture. Fall is the perfect season to layer texture into your tablescape. Use table linens, placemats, napkin rings and centerpieces to add visual and tactile interest. Textures on a farmhouse dining table tend toward natural materials like canvas and burlap, wood and dried flowers. Traditional table decor, on the other hand, is more refined, featuring linen and polished finishes. Instead of a table runner, extend bright fall garland down the table’s center. Free-spirited designs call for fringe, woven elements and botanicals.

10.25 inch gold swirl hurricane candle holder

4. Sprinkle in Some Glitter

Build the glamor with crystal and metallic touches. Gold is a favorite designer accent, but copper and brass are also options. Think of gold flatware, brass candlestick holders or gold-rimmed stemware. Metallic trivets, plate chargers and placemats add shine and interest. For bolder looks, latch on to metal candle holders, lanterns and gilded serving pieces. Rose gold paired with orange is both playful and pretty.

How to Set the Table

When setting the table for fall entertaining, what items go on the table?

Fewer people these days own a complete formal dinner table setting. An abbreviated place setting sufficient for most modern entertaining needs can include:

  • Tablecloth
  • Table runner
  • Napkin
  • Napkin holder
  • Placemat
  • Plate charger
  • Dinner plate, salad plate, bread plate, soup bowl
  • Salad fork, dinner fork, dessert fork, dinner knife, butter knife, soup spoon, teaspoon
  • Water glass
  • Wine glass or goblet
  • Candle holders or lanterns
  • Centerpiece or table display

If you aren’t serving rolls or fresh bread you can remove the bread plate and bread knife; ditto for the soup bowl and soup spoon, if soup is not on the menu. No salad? No need for a salad fork and plate.

fall berries and leaves garland

The Finishing Touches

Autumn is bountiful, so your fall tablescape should be, too. Plate chargers, napkin rings and an attractive table arrangement add the detail a fall table needs to be considered fully dressed. Place cards also are a nice touch. In lieu of an actual card, the internet is full of creative ways to indicate seating arrangements to your guests.

And don’t forget the centerpiece! Whether it's fresh flowers, dried or silk florals or a harvest horn of plenty, an autumn arrangement completes a well-appointed table setting.

Freestyle Your Fall Table Decor

When it comes right down to it, there is no wrong way to set your fall table. Fall is comfortable and cozy. It’s all about family, friends, abundance and gratitude. Trust your instinct to reflect these sentiments as you welcome your guests to the table.

Traditional Tablescape

Shop the Look: 
Jacquard runner  
Pumpkin napkin rings  
Holiday holly and gold berry glasses

Farmhouse Tablescape

Shop the Look:  
Buffalo plaid napkins  
Burlap table runner  
Wooden pillar candle lantern

Bold and Colorful Tablescape

Shop the Look:  
Gold and beaded napkin rings  
Variegated orange table runner 
Set of 2 gold distressed finish glass orb candle holders

Clean and Classic Tablescape

Shop the Look:  
Natural chambray woven table runner  
Wood band napkin rings  
Round metallic gold placemats  

You may also like:  
Open the Door to Autumn with 8 Fantastic Fall Wreaths 
Autumn Inspired Decor: Turn Your Porch into a Cozy Cool-Weather Haven

How to Set a Fantastic Fall Table

Need help with decorating tips? Choosing the right tree?

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