Twists on Traditional Thanksgiving Tablescapes
Story and Photos by Bonnie Helander

Visit the new and trendy town of Trilith in Fayetteville, and you will find some wonderful shops bursting with fresh ideas and interesting accessories for your holiday decorating. To get inspiration on creating a contemporary twist to a traditional Thanksgiving table design, I met with Trilith shop owners, Dawn Hunt, who with her sister, Jennifer Yarbrough, own The Funky Shack Mercantile and Flower Market, and with Sandra McFarland, who just opened 180 Pure Home. 

After opening a successful shop in Tyrone, Dawn and Jennifer expanded The Funky Shack Mercantile and Flower Market last year, adding a new location in Trilith that offers the same stunning floral arrangements and eclectic mix of gifts and home accessories.  Sandra, a recent transplant from Illinois, opened 180 Pure Home last May, which features a premium home and wellness brand focusing on elevated home, inspired wellness and thoughtful gifting. 

Dawn and Sandra met me at Sandra’s Trilith home to style a spectacular Thanksgiving tablescape, and share with readers some of their tried-and-true professional designer tips for putting together a beautifully-crafted Thanksgiving tablescape with a twist!

  • Choose an inspiration piece with the “wow” factor to build your tablescape design around. It can be as elaborate as a set of china, or as simple as selecting a salad plate, platter, tea cup or napkin with the hues and design pattern that capture your imagination. For a more contemporary vibe, select an inspiration piece that is colorful, fun or whimsical, and refrain from using traditional bright orange, red and yellow colors.
  • If you have trouble making a selection, look to nature for inspiration. Notice the look and feel of the outdoors in November. Colors are muted and starting to fade, as the season starts to slide into winter. Choose a muted color palette, with a vintage feel, in peaches, pinks, browns, purples, maroons and blues. Dawn and Sandra chose a stunning cream salad plate trimmed in a nature design of brown vines, acorns, bird feathers and greenery. This inspiration salad plate is part of the Forest Walk collection by Juliska. 
  • Let your inspiration piece take center stage by placing it with neutral white or cream plates. The neutral plates used here are from the Berry & Thread collection from Juliska.
  • To decorate down the center of the table, find items that are unusual and unexpected around your house, with similar colors as your inspiration piece and that also pull from its design. Look for interesting pieces that aren’t usually associated with dinner tablescapes, such as vintage stacked books, statues or small pieces of artwork. Dawn and Sandra loved the bird feather on the design of their inspiration piece salad plate and added a feathered napkin ring and feathered pumpkins to their display for a bit of the unexpected. A whimsical owl statue in a muted gold continues the feather theme.
  • Continue to highlight the muted color combinations from your inspiration piece in your floral arrangement. If possible purchase locally grown, fresh flowers. These are fresher, last longer, are in season and add fragrance. Add fall grasses, pomegranates and dried candied oranges. For a bit of texture and a hint of brown, Dawn suggests removing the yellow petals from sunflowers as an unusual addition to a floral centerpiece. Don’t forget to bring natural elements in from your garden. Favorite selections include magnolia leaves, rosemary stems, interesting small branches, faded hydrangea blooms, nuts and berries. 
  • Add a bit of bling to the table with Estelle Colored Glass stemware. It becomes the jewelry of the tablescape. Your dishes will come and go as people finish their meal, but the glassware stays. Look for stemware that is fun to hold and beautiful to behold!   
  • White or cream candles add the softness and the glow. Place the candles in interesting holders with some texture that catches the light and adds some sparkle. Candlelight will highlight the beauty and color of your glassware. 
  • Dress up the center of your plates with place cards. Sandra points out that a thoughtful and kind way to welcome each guest and acknowledge their presence, is to write their name on a place card at the table. And, it alleviates the awkwardness of wondering where to sit! Place the cards on top of a sprig of rosemary as a garnish and to add a touch of fragrance. You can curl the edges of the place cards with a small stick or dowel. There are many online programs with easy instructions on creating place cards or menu cards with stock paper.
  • To remember those family and friends whom you cherish but might not be present at your table, use a special piece that is meaningful to you and reminds you of them – your grandmother’s serving spoon or your aunt’s antique butter dish. According to Sandra, “The holidays are when we gather with the people we love and when we remember those who are gone. I always add my great-gran’s bud vase to the table to remember her.” 

You can find all these beautiful accessories at The Funky Shack Mercantile and Flower Market, 180 Pure Home and Leyland Blue, all located on Trilith Parkway in the Town of Trilith.