Oh, how I long for the day when I can actually invite people to our home for Thanksgiving. Call me crazy but, I love cooking and entertaining for crowds, and I would thoroughly enjoy creating a wonderful meal and serving it to my loved ones on a beautifully presented table... except not in my current, cramped kitchen. *sigh* Some day.
We'll start with Martha, of course. While Martha tends to go for more involved table settings, you could take any element that you fancy from one of her stylings and adapt it to suit your taste, table size and budget. A monochromatic display of autumn produce - such as the squashes, peppers and kumquats pictured here - makes a lovely centerpiece and cuts the waste factor out, as you could easily use them in the following week's meals. If you want to kick up the DIY quotient, try these votives and vases wrapped in dry corn husks (how-to here). Filled with flickering tea lights and soft-hued blooms, they bring a romantic elegance to the table without crowding the essentials.
I was a little disappointed in Real Simple's Thanksgiving table ideas this year because, well, they weren't all that simple. This earthy display, however, has a lot of great elements that one could employ for a less complicated setting. Using vessels that you already own (glass bottles, votives or even things from the recycling bin), you could easily replicate this look by wrapping them in twine or linen as shown. I do like that the stylist used natural offerings to fill the vessels - cattails, fern fronds, grasses, seed pods, berries and dried flowers - that are available for *free* right in your own backyard.
I discovered Sweet Paul's blog in my quest for table settings and when I saw his Thanksgiving ideas from last year, I knew I'd be back. This has got to be my favorite table look: gorgeous in its simplicity, this spread could effortlessly be recreated with things you have on hand. Perhaps you have an heirloom platter that needs some love or some fabulous vintage bottles that have just been hanging around. Add some berries from the backyard, a mini white pumpkin from the grocery store and a lovingly-worn runner, and you've got a chic, modern spread with minimal effort. Fab!
So, if its your turn to host Thanksgiving this year, don't sweat it. When in doubt, apply the K.I.S.S. rule - keep it simple, sweetie. Those delicious things you've been slaving over in the kitchen should take center stage -- after all, its about family and food, not the frouf :-)