Without a doubt the iconic American bird, the turkey, majorly influences all things Thanksgiving, right down to our tabletop décor. It’s a colorful history, nearly as old as the holiday itself.
When Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving an official holiday back in 1863, English potters seized the opportunity to target the growing American market by producing turkey-themed dinner plates and platters. These ingenious designers generally took an existing design and replaced the center with a turkey motif to create those first Thanksgiving patterns. Manufacturers such as Spode, Mason’s and Wood & Sons used their colorful transferware patterns to start a new holiday tradition.
“Even today manufacturers are creating design options for consumers by producing Thanksgiving or turkey-themed accent plates to mix and match with their everyday dinnerware,” says Robin Long, vice-president of product marketing for tableware giant Replacements, Ltd. “You’ll find colors and motifs to fit all tastes and lifestyles, from the very traditional to a more modern aesthetic. If someone wants more than just an accent plate, there are so many fantastic collections that include all piece types, from plates to bowls to platters.”
In fact, Replacements’ most popular Thanksgiving pattern, His Majesty by Johnson Brothers, started as an accent plate in the Friendly Village pattern. Demand proved so great for this particular motif, the English manufacturer turned the proud Tom Turkey-adorned plate into its own pattern.
Gobble up serveware
Perhaps just as popular as the turkey pattern this season is the turkey platter. These large platters are not only highly collectible, they’re becoming the entertaining centerpiece for seasonal gatherings.
“You can find a turkey platter that will blend well with any china pattern, from the very old to the very new,” says designer Julie Robbins. “Turkey platters aren’t necessarily bird-themed; you’ll find them in designs ranging from florals to even scenic vistas. I suggest starting a wonderful family tradition of dedicating a special platter for your Thanksgiving turkey and making it the centerpiece of your holiday gathering.”
Turkey platters aren’t only fun, some are also functional. Lenox and several other manufacturers produce turkey-shaped platters and other autumn themed serving pieces in alternative metal serveware. This is a special alloy that maintains a constant temperature to keep foods warm or cold when heated or chilled.
Tabletop trends for turkey day
Whether you’re planning a huge buffet or an intimate dinner with close family and friends, Robbins says the color trends for Thanksgiving entertaining remain a bright version of fall: strong oranges, sages and brilliant turquoises.
Both individual candles and groupings of candles are popular for the Thanksgiving tabletop. Burlap is also a hot trend for table runners or place settings.
And if Tom Turkey isn’t the right design element for your table, Robbins says you can still create a seasonal feel, minus the bird. “You can use fall leaf or even woodland patterns to create a classic Thanksgiving table without going with a turkey motif. Beautiful classic fruit patterns give your table that horn of plenty flair.”
Robbins suggests tying this look together by combining whole spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg with natural elements like nuts, small pumpkins, fall fruits and colorful leaves to create a cornucopia-type centerpiece.