or much of America, Thanksgiving is one celebration not to be messed with.
Those who try to jettison the candied yams or who forget grandma's gravy boat might have the family to answer to. And if it's been a chrysanthemum centerpiece since your husband was a baby, it may be difficult to try something new.
But for some -- young people setting up their own homes, empty nesters and many folks in-between -- the same old same old is just that. They would like to tweak tradition and mark the holiday in new ways.
If you're looking for stylish ways to update the table, you don't have to spend a lot. It's more a matter of color and changing up a few elements.
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"Choose a palette of one or two colors -- brown, orange or pale yellow will go with existing neutrals," said Jenn Aaronson, Martha Stewart Living's food and entertaining editorial director. "Tablecloths aren't always necessary; dress your table with cloth napkins and even paper cut outs. Simple branches or single color floral arrangements always look modern."
The magazine's website has a number of pretty ideas for a contemporary holiday table. Painted or natural gourds mixed with modern pottery can be filled with pine cones or nuts; gild the contents for some shine. Paint small bird feathers, stamp them on ivory napery, and arrange with white dishware on chartreuse placemats for an airy yet elegant table.
More easy, inexpensive ideas include using pears and seed pods for place card holders, leaf-shaped cutouts as mats and runners, and colorful corn husks as wrappers for glass votive holders.
Erinn Valencich, blogger for HGTV.com's Design Happens, likes to experiment with colors.
"Last year I chose chocolate and lavender," she said. "A beautiful set of gold rimmed dinnerware and gold accents on the votive holders gave the table an elegant, modern look."
Burlap, cafe colors and white dinnerware are another option.
"Have fun with materials; contrast ceramic with glass, wood and gleaming metal," Valencich said. "Forgo the old standby tablecloth and opt for glamorous, polished silver chargers and chocolate-brown linen napkins."
She also likes aubergine, fuchsia and deep purple layered with gold accents, "and a large, from-the-market centerpiece of black champagne grapes, artichokes and eggplant. All deep fall colors that set a gorgeous, modern table in minutes."
Even if you're still putting lots of effort into the traditional feast, there's no reason why the setting can't be easy and look chic.
Unbutton more than the sweater vest, and have fun.
w Sourcebook: www.crateandbarrel.com, Auburn dinner plate, $8.95 each; Foley table runner in three sizes, $34.95-$59.95, placemat, $11.95; Dorata serveware, $16.95-$79.95; www.hgtv.com; www.marthastewartliving.com