Thanksgiving planning tips from Robertson’s

by Walt Maguire
Posted 11/25/21

Thanksgiving dinner may be the main attraction, but it isn’t the only thing that makes the holiday meal so special. Presentation is also key. And this year, which may be the first time …

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Thanksgiving planning tips from Robertson’s


Thanksgiving dinner may be the main attraction, but it isn’t the only thing that makes the holiday meal so special. Presentation is also key. And this year, which may be the first time everyone’s gathered in two years, there’s added reason to create the perfect setting. 

Robertson’s Flowers has a few recommendations. 

Set the stage

Their first suggestion: Balance. Mix items of various scales and styles. Decorative keepsakes and seasonal decor will give your table a personal touch. Keep in mind that you will need enough room for your guests to comfortably sit at the table and enjoy their meal.

Next comes mood lighting. Select several different sizes and colors of candles for a soft glow. Battery-powered lights might do if hidden inside an attractive fixture, but for the visual effect of an actual flame they don’t compete. And forget scented candles in the dining room – the kitchen will provide everything you need in that department.

Textures and colors will add to the candlelit atmosphere. Combining different textures like birch-wrapped vases, burlap table runners, and seasonal elements such as gourds, berries and branches add to the feeling of a bountiful harvest. A bold table runner paired with colorful napkins, or even a mix of colorful glassware, make for a lively table. A monochromatic scheme in two colors can be quite elegant and dramatic, while a mix of colors and patterns lends itself to a more casual mood.

The centerpiece, it goes without saying, is what pulls the room together. A beautifully designed bouquet of fresh cut flowers offers color, texture and variety, uniting all of the design elements. Rich purples, the warmth of orange and bright yellow, fiery reds and rustic Earth tones will all compliment your Thanksgiving feast. You don’t have to feel tied to the customary cornucopia centerpiece, or the lavish splay of flowers at the center of the table. Instead, a whole crop of modern floral designs can vie for attention. Consider small trailing centerpieces versus one large arrangement if you have an extra-long table, or want to use the flowers throughout the house afterwards. A collection of smaller arrangements also make great gifts for the guests. 

Robertson’s has recommendations for all of these, but there’s room for a personal touch; there might be a flower that has special meaning for your family, or a prize harvest from this year’s backyard garden. (Plan a spot to move the centerpiece to once you need space for the dinner. Try to keep it visible from the table.) 

As Robertson’s puts it: “Your centerpiece should look great in candlelight. It should look great in daylight. It should be visually arresting from all angles. It should – potentially – start a conversation, but not make it impossible to have one by being too high on the table.”

When you are the guest

If you’re not bringing a side dish or transporting relatives who couldn’t attend otherwise, you can still be a gracious guest. There’s the gift of wine, of course, but flowers or a gift basket also work. Maybe something to go with tomorrow’s leftovers. It might be a dinner with your family, with your in-laws, or even a “Friendsgiving,” but you can set things off on the right foot. Here Roberston’s has some suggestions you might not have considered:

  • Fuzzy socks to stay warm throughout the winter 
  • A set of kitschy oven mitts or holiday kitchen towels
  • Gourmet coffee to brew with dessert 
  • Quirky fridge magnets 
  • A fresh yoga mat to encourage a healthy holiday season 
  • High-quality serving utensils that always come in handy on Thanksgiving Day
  • A game to play after dinner, or an activity for the kids, like a not-too-messy holiday craft project
  • Hydrating hand wash to prevent bringing unwanted leftovers home
  • Scented candles that smell like fall, such as Linnea's Lights Pumpkin candles (Note: Do not light during dinner. See above.)

They know about the football

Thanksgiving Day winds into the evening with family stories, a classic movie, or games. Those games might be charades or Jenga, but this is Philadelphia, so there will be football. This is where those gift baskets for the host and hostess come in handy. When you have a kitchen counter loaded with delicious food, you can add some team color with a bouquet of Eagles green and white for some game day decor. 

Traditions start somewhere

There’s no one right way to do Thanksgiving. The earliest feasts in the 1600s did not feature turkey. In the late 1700’s, Alexander Hamilton asserted that “no citizens should be without a turkey on Thanksgiving”, so at some point, the turkey was given the dubious distinction of being our holiday meal. 

As of Thanksgiving Day in 2016, surveys showed that 88% of Americans ate turkey. For the last two decades, deep fried turkey has gained a loyal and ever-growing fan base. This Cajun version of the holiday classic cooks rapidly and results in a delicious bird. Many purists miss the aroma of a roasting turkey filling the air all afternoon, however, and refuse to give up the slow-cooked delicacy.  

No worries - new twists on Thanksgiving traditions are inevitable. The Macy's Parade did not start until 1924. And most of us remember the time before Black Friday.

Whether your family sticks to the same traditions again this year, or you try something new that becomes a classic, you can make it look good.

See, Robertson’s Flowers blog, for more.