Holiday tips on how to create the perfect Thanksgiving table |

Holiday tips on how to create the perfect Thanksgiving table

The centerpiece pictured begins with three squares of dark brown felt to protect the wood and anchor the decorative materials so they don’t slide on the table.
Courtesy Christy Rost |

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In the majestic mountains of Colorado, television chef and author Christy Rost and her husband Randy purchased their dream home — an 1898 historic home in need of extensive restoration. Join Christy in this unique blend of holiday cooking, decorating, history, and highlights of “Swan’s Nest’s” restoration. It’s a celebration of home and family, as Christy and her team work together to create “A Home for Christy Rost: Thanksgiving.” In Colorado, the show will air on Rocky Mountain PBS Create on Nov. 26 at 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Christy will be teaching hands-on Holiday Cooking Classes at Swan’s Nest on Dec. 10, 13 and 15. Please contact Christy via phone at (970) 453-1755 or via email at

Dec. 10: Holiday Baking — 6–9 p.m.; $95; reservations required.

Dec. 13: Holiday Baking — 2–5 p.m.; $95; reservations required

Dec. 15: Make-ahead Holiday Side Dishes — 6–9 p.m.; $75; reservations required

Even though eyes might be focused on the “perfect” Thanksgiving turkey and must-have side dishes when sitting down to dinner — not to mention pumpkin and pecan pies with mounds of whipped cream for dessert — the table setting also deserves more than just a passing glance. Christy Rost, celebrity chef, cookbook author and part-time Summit County resident, has provided helpful guidelines for creating Thanksgiving tablescapes — including the assurance that even on Thanksgiving Day, everyone can create beautiful and memorable tables with what is already stashed in cabinets and cupboards. Rost suggests taking a few moments to open cupboards and closets, discover little-used treasures and new decorating possibilities, and incorporate these items when creating a Thanksgiving table setting.

“Any room can be welcoming and beautiful,” Rost said. “Our cabin presented a completely blank slate — unadorned, rustic log walls, a plywood floor painted a neutral tone with a band of dark green near the edges, and a brushed metal chandelier with no electrical power currently available. But, the room is cozy, the substantial wood table and chairs beg to be surrounded by family and friends, and the casual bookcase along the back wall provides added interest. With the help of decorative accessories I’ve had for years, casual ironstone dinnerware in seasonal colors, and luscious, but inexpensive fabrics and linens, I transformed this very rustic setting into a beautiful dining room to celebrate Thanksgiving.”

Rost has deconstructed a Thanksgiving table setting she created in her 1890s Colorado mountain cabin, and divided it into four steps.


When completing a table setting with a simple floral centerpiece, the flower arrangement is the last item Rost places on the table.

But when she creates a lush table setting featuring a variety of textures, levels and accessories, she’s found that it’s much easier to start with the centerpiece.

That way, one can build layer upon layer in the center of the table without worrying about knocking over glassware or dropping bits and pieces of decorative material onto the place settings, particularly when working with natural items or those that shed glitter.

The centerpiece pictured begins with three squares of dark brown felt to protect the wood and anchor the decorative materials so they don’t slide on the table.

Two 9-foot silk leaf garlands rest on top of the felt, providing a foundation and color scheme for everything that follows.


Once the autumn garlands are in place, add depth, color and texture by incorporating pumpkins of various sizes, fruit, pinecones, additional leaves, large pillar candles in tall glass hurricanes, and seasonal placemats. Tiny pumpkins, readily found in supermarkets, rest on small glass coasters to prevent damage to the table’s wood surface.


Tablescapes that most often elicit an appreciative gasp of surprise rarely feature matched china and crystal. Instead, blend dinner and glassware based on complementary colors, patterns, themes, shapes, sizes and seasonality. For this Thanksgiving table, copper-colored chargers provide a rich background for heavy, rustic yellow ironstone dinner plates, paired with white porcelain soup bowls featuring a brown floral border and turkey pattern in the center. The copper chargers complement the placemats’ copper and yellow twist border and reflect the centerpiece’s coppery leaves. Ironstone plates ensure the table isn’t too formal or fussy, and the turkey bowls leave no mistake it’s Thanksgiving. Leaf-patterned napkins, secured with bronzy, metal oakleaf napkin rings, and heavy cut-crystal water glasses paired with delicate etched wine glasses edged in gold, add finishing touches to delight the eye.


A buffet, china cabinet, or bookcase provide exciting opportunities to extend the decorative theme beyond the dining table, so take advantage of these surfaces if you have them. In the Rosts’ cabin, the large, square mirror above the glass buffet reflects light from the tall candlesticks — an important asset when there’s no electrical power. Several garlands of silk leaves are layered across the back edge of the buffet next to the wall, setting the stage for a luxurious sense of bounty. A wooden tray echoes the rustic cabin theme and provides an attractive gathering spot for turkey, pumpkin and spicy candle decorative accents. Dessert plates with a woodsy theme await decadent slices of pumpkin pie, pumpkin swirl cheesecake, and pecan pie — the perfect ending to a memorable Thanksgiving celebration in the cabin.

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