11. Crisp palette: Who says Thanksgiving decor has to be dictated by the colors of turkey feathers? Try hues inspired by winter citrus and the blues of the Pacific.

 

12. Place settings: Mark each table setting with the guest’s initials. These vintage letters do double-duty as napkin weights and party favors.

13. Everything is illuminated: Tealights in jam jars keep each table setting visible as the sun goes down.

14. Home on the range: The genius of dining in your own backyard is that your kitchen is just a skip away. Serve food buffet-style indoors—it can stay warm on the stovetop.

Get it: Letters from Collage Gallery (from $6 each). Max Teal salad plates by Crate and Barrel ($5). Coast dinner plate by Crate and Barrel ($6). Sky doily placemat by Urban Outfitters ($3).

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Four clever ways to personalize your table

Sunset

Attach a metal plant tag to stem fruit. The tags, available from garden stores, turn fruits with stems into instant place-setters. Cut the tag to size, then write the name on it with a black permanent marker.

Print a name on a pomegranate in gold. The rich red color and hard texture of the pomegranate make it the perfect fruit to write on. Use permanent or liquid ink in gold, silver, or black.

Write a name on the back of a magnolia leaf. Use a pen with white or silver ink. The leathery texture of the leaf complements table linens. Coordinate the napkin color.

Cut a slit in a chestnut for a placecard. Use a craft knife to make the cut. Silver ink reads well on dark brown paper, and scalloped scissors give the card a decorative edge.

Table-decor secrets from the experts

Earth-friendly alternative. "Using red coral on the table is hot right now, but coral is rare and takes a long time to grow," says Scott Donnellan. "I mimic the look by painting manzanita branches a coral color." Donnellan notes that many manzanita branches grow in a fan pattern ― just like coral. He suggests standing them upright in trays of white sand.

Simple forms. Diana Fayt uses a bowl of oranges or pots of forced narcissus as a centerpiece. "My parents immigrated to California from Hungary. We had an orange tree. The oranges seemed so beautiful and exotic, my parents would put them on the table at Christmas. That's why I do it," says Fayt. "As for the narcissus, I love the vertical lines they bring to a table."

Color and scent. For her centerpiece, Katie Carson uses pomegranates, candles, and evergreen branches. "I weave the branches down the center of the table and intersperse pomegranates and candles. It looks ― and smells ― beautiful," says Carson. "Then, I use the same colors in the place settings."

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