Forget The Turkey, What About The Table?


Slim Paley photo

An intimate & casual Autumn lunch at my beach house. You wouldn’t really expect gourds to mix well with objects from the sea, but it worked.


Slim Paley Photo

And now, my favourite part of November- setting the Thanksgiving table, particularly fun, as Fall’s bounty is so plentiful and I love a great Over The Top, Bring It ON table for ‘Giving Thanks’.




How chic, this black & white Thanksgiving table from Domino.  I have some black & white transfer ware- but not nearly enough.

I do have feathers though, and might just throw them into the mix this year.




Martha, Martha, Martha. If you’d only let me come to that cooking class all those years ago…we coulda’ been Buds!



credit unknown (what if it’s martha?!!)


Photo Luca Trovato for House Beautiful

An interesting and sophisticated table by Janice Feldman (Founder of Janus et Cie)



Slim Paley Photo

I could do an updated version of my Sun Valley Thanksgiving table from last year…

BTW,  I’m going on record now- I don’t want to hear  “J’accuse” if I use a version of this photo again on my upcoming Plaid post!

Think of it as recycling. Plaids not the easiest subject.



Photo via Linda Ervin



“Her” again

Love this.


Slim Paley photo

I’ve used those colours too  ( apples and hydrangea from my garden :))



But ever since seeing this photo recently…


(Oh…let’s say British Homes & Gardens)

I’m feeling the urge to do a ‘Spicier’ tableau

Something about the heavy linen and very fiery flowers is really inspiring me.


I have copious amounts of Cranberry glass, which I would love to mix with mustard and brown.  You heard me.  There’s some interesting foliage in the garden right now that would work well with these colours, though I don’t have brown dishes, or at least not enough for the number of guests this year.  I might be taking a run down to P.B. or the local antique collective to see what I can find- because, really, it’s just not a Holiday for me unless I’m leaving everything until the last possible moment.

Don’t read my New Year’s Resolutions from last January about being more organized .  I’d obviously been drinking.



Some of the things I’ve pulled together so far….


Slim Paley photo

Cranberry glass, mushrooms, quail eggs, antique books, and old letters…


I’ll keep you posted.

Do I win anything if I get the table set before Saturday?? (which would be absolutely wonderful, considering I’m out of town Thursday and Friday )




Do you favour tradition and set the same table for the Holidays every year, or do you like to shake things up too?

What’s your favourite part of the holiday; the cooking, the table setting, or

the Clean up?!

(if you answer #3, we have one more place at the table 🙂 )







  1. A lovely, inspiring post! We’re usually away at hockey tourneys or at relatives for Thanksgiving, but did have it the last two years here at the ranch, and my fave ALWAYS is
    setting the table. I use whatever I have around the house and yard, and mix and match china
    and flatware. I love your beach luncheon table! Who needs color when you have all that fabulous texture? Cousins are cooking the 46 lb. turkey we raised last year, so there should be plenty….if it will fit in the oven! xx

  2. You’re going to be out of town Thursday and Friday? That must be because you decided to come do my table for me! 🙂 For me, Thanksgiving is all about the food, but looking at your gorgeous photos, you’ve got me thinking I should spend a little bit more time on the table. Your own ideas so far are great – I especially love those tapers – they go so well with the old books and letters. And the flowers are amazing, of course. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Have a good week!

  3. I love the cooking so much that I have a girls only chopping party the night before. We set the table that night too. My sis is a talented floral arranger and somehow I ended up with 3 different sets of china that looks fab on a Thanksgiving table. Love the holiday more than any other family gathering. Setting the tables for 17 this year which is a small group for us. Missing Mom Corradini who unexpectedly passed this summer.

  4. hi slim,

    are you reading my mind? i just set up my thanksgiving table yesterday! well a test run anyway. the table and food are my favorite part. the people drive me crazy.

    you gotta do a plaid post. i’ve been living in it lately.


  5. I do like the clean up! For reals! (although I have been known to just toss out the turkey roasting pan in disgust…) Does that mean I can’t come?
    I love you Slim Paley. Never stop blogging. xo

  6. OH I shake things up!!! I use my Herend china but I always try to do something new and different with the flowers and tablescape elements! AND…the clean up – I loathe. I cook and bake and do everything else. If others pitch in and clean, I won’t stop ’em….well, when it comes to handling the china, that’s my domain:)

  7. I’m crazy about your Sun Valley chandelier.
    Mix it up, I say. In fact, I’m all for an array of hydrangeas. Once, I managed to grow some maple colored hydrangeas. I must have done some magical soil manipulation.

  8. Hello Slim, I am fresh from looking at FF’s hair, make up and outfits in London, Jersey and now Brittany, boy she sets a high standard for us Aussies. Especially the ones who live in the far north where glamour is overcome by heat and humidity. She looks Vogue worthy in every photo.
    I may have to forgo the usual travel clothing wardrobe in Europe this Christmas.

    Now, I am looking at your own table settings, and it’s driven me nuts.
    Slim, pleaaaaaase tell me you have house staff. Please?
    Louise from Townsville

  9. I like the gourd/coral table… It lets the beautiful Autumn colored FOOD fill up the color palate! Love your nature items (rocks, feathers, plants etc) & your antique everything! (especially the green glass plates)! Wow! PS~ Your settings are much nicer than the Mags!!

  10. Slim’s is the b e s t !!!! The pinky reds are mah-vah-lus with the browns and golds! The ‘feast for the eyes’ gets me every time! Too gorgeous!

  11. My favorite part is the Chardonnay while preparing the turkey. Well, when my husband is preparing the turkey. I usually make the casserole. Centerpiece tradition involves something my younger daughter makes in school because my older one is officially too cool to make a paper turkey. I make her wear the pilgrim hat though.

  12. wonderful – I saw something today at Whole Foods and thought of you ( and others )
    Buddha Hand Lemons- so outrageous- like coral almost
    thanks again

  13. UNBELIEVABLE array of table settings!!!

    Your theme of cranberry glass, mustard, brown, quail eggs, with a repeat of the colors in fall foliage = breath-taking. Can’t wait to see a picture.

    I’ve been dying to get my hands on some white gourds since before our Thanksgiving in October. Evidently they’re not to be had in this neck of the woods. I even contemplated spraying some baby orange pumpkins with Kilz. (Thank you for not laughing please.)
    Next fall, hello PB …

  14. You make me laugh!!! I personally like to keep the table simple with crystal, silver and grandchildren galore…this year I have six!! How did that happen? So a sit down dinner is always a bit “iffy” and usually a bit complicated. Blessings.

  15. Louise from Townsville again.
    I just reread your post, all the way to the bottom this time.
    Don’t know when Thanksgiving is, but I actually do like to clean up, especially at ops (other people’s). Weird but true!
    So, how do I get to Maison Slim? Keep in mind it takes a full day of flying for me just to get down to Sydney, then I just have to get across the Pacific – I know the way to LA, but directions from LA please.

    • Dear Louise from Australia

      So you know how to get to LA, then just get on the 101 highway, head north for about an hour and twenty minutes and turn right at the Montecito exit.
      Ding- You’re in one of the great gardening capitals of the world.

      PS. re your previous question- I ALWAYS do ALL of my own interior designing, holiday decorating, floral arranging, table setting, tree- trimming, mantle-trimming…all of it. It’s both my passion and my therapy.

      The cooking… I cannot tell a lie…I get some wonderful, blessed, much appreciated help 🙂

  16. I have dishes that are traditional Christmas dishes that depict the Twelve Days of Christmas on each plate. They are colorful, with lots of red warm tones, and gold borders. I use gold chargers with them. That’s our traditional Christmas table setting. For Thanksgiving, I have a variety of chargers that I put with dark claret colored Calvin Klein dishes. Some chargers are dark grain wood, some are dark metal and some are pewter. Table linens tend to be muted. I do love colored stemware and wish I had that. Maybe that will be my gift to myself this year. I’ll tell you what I won’t be having on my table….FEATHERS! Might as well put hair on the table as far as I’m concerned. Oh, btw, birds scare me. Turkey’s are cool though.

  17. First of all…..yummerlicious. period. Thanksgiving is my VERY favorite holiday. Mainly because I do it at my home at the lake. We usually have about 30 and we do golf, tennis, watch football, throw the football, etc, etc, etc…..I cook it all. OH, I almost forgot….we also watch “Christmas Vacation” every year! It’s all VERY traditional and it’s the one time everyone gets to see each other every year. I always do gifts at everyone’s plate. Something simple. Actually last year I hid lottery tickets underneath everyone’s chair. This year, as I’m sitting here typing I’m tearing up. We are breaking tradition and doing it at my sister’s house in B’ham. Since I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read your blog I can say it……it won’t be anything like mine. No harm intended, she just won’t go “all out” like I do. Anyway, because mom will be getting her new hip this Thursday “yeahhhh”! We just decided it was best to do a “casual” Thanksgiving. That will probably include the dreaded……paper plates….yikes! did I just write that?????? Thank you for a wonderful post Slim! (sorry this is so long!)

  18. My favorite is the first table (yours) for the simplicity and elegance. That’s timeless! You set this table today and come back to see the picture in 30 years and you won’t say: “Oh, my! Where did I find that fabric with orange polka-dots?”! LOL

    Lovely & inspiring post.

    Luciane at

  19. Beautiful Post. Every table a masterpiece . If I had to choose my fav., be it ever soooo difficult,
    I think it would be the apples avec the hydrangeas. Just a lovely change.
    Thanks for sharing.

  20. OMG—tablescapes are my favorite part of any holiday that involves food and sitting down. These are amazing and so inspirational. Mind if I copy? 🙂

    Hope you will show us the final table setting once you’ve amassed all the pretties.


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  22. I love the color combinations you have come up with for this year! I reallly wish I had your Cranberry wineglassess….Would be beautiful on MY TABLE!!!!
    I always use my Friendly Village china from my husband’s family then mix up the rest of the table with a different centerpiece, turkey’s, candles, ect. Placecard holders are always small turkeys I have had for years. I vary the silver acording to how many people are coming.
    You must guess I am well into setting the table over the food and dread the clean up!

  23. I like your table setting! It is festive, yet neutral. I have been searching for a linen table cloth! I would love to know where you found yours!

  24. Oh, how I love the setting of a beautiful table! The food is wonderful, but I promise I would rather be served a bowl of hot water on a fabulous table than a delicious feast with no table settings! I love so many of the photos you posted, but I think my favorite is the classic Martha look for Thanksgiving! Can’t really go wrong with that, right?

  25. Love to cook, love to set a pretty table. In my family we have our own tradition for clean-up, it’s called “SCREW YOUR NEIGHBOR”… really! It’s a card game that we inherited from my husband’s fire station. As people are eliminated from the game, they have to get up and start doing the dishes. My poor Mother-in-law, she is usually the first one doing K.P. , it’s a really good time, although, kind of rude for Granny to come as a guest and then get booted into the kitchen. She keeps coming back though… that’s a good thing, she’s a good sport.

  26. Slim,

    I LOVE the little pumpkins paired with the coral.
    They’re like little sea urchins dressed up for fall!

    I’m also really digging the pheasant feathers.
    They’ll look awesome with my brown transferware.
    I’ll have to see if I can scrounge me up a pheasant.



  28. I remember the cornucopia centerpiece my great grandmother placed on the table with such beautiful fruit pouring out of it! And, the relatives you only saw at that time of year and good riddance (stuffy people) Also, the children’s table where one adult usually found their seat as table monitor! And, finally lace tablecloths with very old crystal goblets which my sister still uses today.

  29. Wow …Slim…where have I been! Your tables are amazing. I have to admit I usually don’t plan the Thanksgiving table in advance…it sort of morphs into what it will be based on which napkins have been pressed.

    Love the first one the most

    kelley : )

  30. I’m OBSESSED with your gourd/seaside theme. Coral is just an all-time favorite love, and I’ve been really into white pumpkins this year. In general, I’m all about the neutrals when doing a table, but, this year, I think I need to branch out a bit. I’m loving the colors in your photos! Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!

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  35. Here it is Monday before Thanksgiving & I’m just giving thought to my table–sort of late this year but I’ve been delayed with the aftermath of hurricane Sandy…oven lights in my stove hood blown, graphic eyes blown, sound system fried & waiting for the electrician to return. I needed table inspiration & who do I go to???? And it isn’t Martha!!
    Thanks for sharing such delightful, stunning photos. You really have a gift! I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite. I love your purple hydrangeas with green pears & your white gourds at the beach but I’m on the East coast so I’m thinking I’ll fall back on oranges and berry colors…feathers…maybe a few baubles….wheat shaffs…who knows, it’s still in the air. Wish I had that cranberry glass. I guess it will have to be my standard, classic china 🙁
    I’m motivated to go on the hunt for some of these things after the holiday!
    Happy & healthy Thanksgiving to you and your, Slim. Bless you all. xxMelissa

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