setting a proper table & creating a thanksgiving centerpiece | HGTV articles

by | Nov 16, 2021 | All Things Home, Decorating, Fall, Holiday | 10 comments

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Those who have been reading my blog for a while are familiar with me mentioning writing articles for HGTV.  I have been writing for them now for almost 10 years and have written over 200 articles and tutorials. It’s an amazing part of my job that came out of simply sharing my work online.  An editor reached out to me to write a few articles for her and coached me through the process.  I still write for that same editor and have written for several others over the years.  Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I wanted to share a couple of my most recent Thanksgiving articles (and a couple of my favorites!)

how to create a florist-worthy fall arrangement for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving floral arrangement was designed to be simple, but to look classic and formal. Grocery store flowers are combined with seasonal fruits, vegetables, and even some artificial greens to fill out this impressive arrangement.  You can get all of the step-by-step details HERE.

elegant thanksgiving centerpiece tutorial | hgtv article | miss mustard seed

One thing I like about this Thanksgiving arrangement is it has a hint of Christmas/winter with the faux evergreens, but still celebrates the colors of fall.  It’s a nice transitional arrangement for a holiday that straddles two seasons and sometimes gets a little lost in the shuffle.

elegant thanksgiving centerpiece tutorial | hgtv article | miss mustard seed

This arrangement is also when I fell in love with persimmons!  I had never used them in an arrangement or decorating before, but I set up a bunch of still life scenes with them to paint when I have the time.  They are just begging to be painting.

persimmon and pear still life | miss mustard seed

how to set a formal (but totally doable) dining table

This tutorial was so fun because I love setting a fancy table and it really doesn’t have to be fussy.  I think some people are afraid to set a formal table because they might get something just slightly wrong…a fork is in the wrong place or the knife is facing the wrong way.  What a shame that the potential of a slap on the wrist from etiquette nannies can make someone feel like they shouldn’t use their grandmother’s china or pull out all of the oddly-shaped utensils.  This tutorial simplifies the formal table setting and also takes a few shortcuts to combine what’s accepted today with what was proper in the past.

how to set a proper table for thanksgiving | hgtv article | miss mustard seed

I also used very simple decorations and place cards to make sure this look could be easily replicated for the reader’s Thanksgiving (or holiday) table.

how to set a proper table for thanksgiving | hgtv article | miss mustard seed

I used my mom’s wedding china, silver from my mom, Oma, and great-grandmothers, vintage brass chargers from Etsy, a thrifted linen tablecloth, my MIL’s linen wedding napkins, and inexpensive water goblets.  Formal doesn’t have to mean expensive.  It’s just a combination of things that are beautiful and meaningful to you.  THIS tutorial walks you through how to arrange them all for a pretty & practical table.

You can find all of the articles I’ve written over the years HERE.


  1. Lisa

    Beautiful table setting! I love to mix different Heirloom pieces from my family going back many generations, we love reminicing, while enjoying the beautiful table setting. I was wondering where you purchased the beautiful ribbon on the napkin?

    • Marian Parsons

      I bought it from Hobby Lobby (in the sewing/fabric section.) They have some lovely velvet ribbons.

  2. Terry

    Beautiful BUT please show us how to decorate a table when you serve from the table. By the time I get all the food on I’m lucky to get a couple candles and call it good. Any help?

    • Marian Parsons

      Terry, this is such a good point! I actually have shared photos over the years of our “real” holiday tables with the food set out. I’ll share some of those. Photos that I style and shoot for HGTV are doable but definitely more editorial. Since our table is small, I would move the centerpiece to the buffet and use the rest of the buffet for serving dishes.

  3. carolyn

    While I love your centerpiece, it does not allow your guests to see across it and converse. Do you take it off when you entertain?

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I would move it over to a buffet.

  4. Kristine

    I am with you on the ‘bring out all the family heirlooms’ for a holiday table setting. My grandmother collected Limoges dishware and platters. As the grateful beneficiary, I pull it out every single opportunity I can. I also inherited several impressive sterling silver pieces from my great grandparents reminiscent of Downton Abby/Age of Innocence. And as you say, it doesn’t have to be perfectly set to be warm and welcoming!!

  5. Emily

    You are always so good about using natural elements, seasonal plants, and produce as holiday decor. It’s not over the top like some arrangements can turn out. It’s just so pretty!

  6. Alice

    Yes, I agree that the floral arrangement is beautiful but I think it overwhelms the size of the table. It seems like it would be more appropriate on a buffet with a small grouping of elements from it and a candle or two on the table. Everything you do or make is beautiful but the size of the arrangement on that small table stood out to me immediately. This is not a criticism because both the arrangement and the table are beautiful. They just don’t seem compatible to me.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yep, I agree the scale could be better, but alas, I have a small dining room and a small table. But, in person, the scale worked well. I would definitely move it to the buffet when food was served, though.


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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