Tablescape: Black and White Thanksgiving Table

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You don’t usually think of a black and white Thanksgiving table– you think of yellow, oranges, reds, rusts and browns which are the typical seasonal fall colors. But those colors will really “pop” or stand out against black and white. This tablesetting will help you see how a different color scheme can jazz up your holiday tablesetting.

I realized how well these colors worked together when I first bought a set of black-and-white-checkboard bordered dishes. I love checkerboard designs in all colors! The dishes I bought are Martha Stewart’s Bistro dishes, and I have enjoyed using them for many years. I bought black-and-white-checked placemats to use on our kitchen table and found black-and-white-checked dishcloths that I used as napkins—having two young sons made me very practical. I used black chargers underneath the dinner plates for a strong color base. The tablesetting above is one of our family favorites for the month of November. One year I found four fall nutcrackers at Michaels that the boys and I loved. I have a large Christmas nutcracker collection, so when I saw a witch, Indian and man and woman pilgrim nutcrackers, I knew I wanted to include them in my collection. It didn’t hurt that they have checkerboards painted on their bases and were on clearance at the time. For Halloween we put the witch nutcracker standing in the table’s center with the same cauldron as the pilgrims are using, and when November arrived, we just changed out the witch for the pilgrims and Indian. You could easily do a similar table with different types of seasonal figures.

The cauldron was filled with a bag of fall pine cone filler from Michaels which had a most pleasant cinnamon scent. We sat the plastic Halloween cauldron on top of a corn husk wreath and a small grapevine wreath I had, so it didn’t have to sit directly on the table, and those items added a harvest feel. We also used a few sprigs of faux bittersweet berries for color and several pine cones around the base.Because the black-and-white-checkerboard placemats had become favorites with us, I decided to use them in a presentation on holiday party-giving that I was giving to a community women’s group. For the presentation, I used a white tablecloth under the placemats which made them stand out even more than the bare wooden table did. Instead of the cauldron, I used the nutcrackers in a line, like a table runner, with some colorful fall gourds and pine cones. Then I used a pine cone at each placesetting with a bright-colored paper leaf in it to serve as color and a decoration, as well as a place-card for each guest. Also, note that I alternated the direction the nutcrackers were facing, because I think guests on both sides of the table should be able to enjoy the table decorations.

If you wondered about those black-and-white checkerboard glasses–they are Colonial Williamsburg tavern sign highball glasses. Each glass features the sign of one of the 18th-century taverns–the Raleigh Tavern, Christiana Campbell’s Tavern, the Kings’ Arms Tavern, to name several.  Because I live nearby and love Colonial Williamsburg, I try to find opportunities to use these glasses, and this seasonal tablesetting is one such chance.

So if you are a black-and-white lover, try this color scheme this Thanksgiving! You can make an eye-popping table for your family and other guests!


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