After turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, the decor is the most important part of hosting the Thanksgiving dinner. Creating a space that feels reminiscent of traditional Thanksgiving decor but also takes into account your personal needs (i.e. the size of your gathering, budget, limited time, etc.) may feel like a challenge, but it’s certainly not an insurmountable one. I’ve rounded up nine easy ways to decorate for Thanksgiving this year, no matter how much time or money you have to spend. These ideas make it easy to throw something together last minute if need be and save all your budget for the Thanksgiving punch.
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1. Let the food be the star
Thanksgiving is all about the food after all. You can totally get away with minimal decorations as long as you’ve got beautiful plates of food front and center. Be sure to use your best serving pieces, and take some extra time plating each dish like a food stylist (tip: a little garnish is always a good idea). When in doubt, a fall-themed charcuterie board can double as a centerpiece and something for guests to snack on until the main course is ready.
2. Add a place card for each seat
Nothing will make your guests feel more welcome than having individual place cards with their names on them at each seat. This Thanksgiving decor idea can be as simple as writing each person’s name on a small card and tucking it under the napkin on their plate. For an extra flourish, attach a small piece of greenery (a sprig of rosemary or sage works perfectly here!) to each place card for some added texture and fragrance.
3. Use miniature pumpkins as decor
When it comes to Thanksgiving decor, pumpkins and gourds are as classic as it gets. For your tablescape, opt for the miniature versions so you can tuck them in amongst the dishes or place one on each plate. Whether you pick out some real ones from a local farm or invest in faux options you can reuse year after year, a few petite pumpkins will add a little something special to your table.
4. Add a hint of nostalgia with a tablecloth
There’s something so delightfully traditional and nostalgic about tablecloths. Give a nod to the “good old days” with a simple linen style or ask a family member if you can borrow one from their collection. I love using tablecloths for any occasion when I want to feel extra put-together, and tossing them in the washing machine afterward makes clean-up a breeze.
5. Create inexpensive arrangements with fall foliage
Forage fallen branches to showcase autumn colors with an extra tall arrangement, perfectly suited for a mantel or entryway table. The best part: It’s totally free, adds gorgeous texture and color, and can easily be swapped out and refreshed as needed.
6. Break out the cloth napkins
Not only are cloth napkins an environmentally friendly choice, but they also instantly elevate any sit-down meal. You can opt to create a formal place setting with one at each person’s seat or simply keep a few stacked on your bar or coffee table if you’re having a more casual, low-key evening.
7. Dim the lights
If you want to create some ambiance, turn off your overhead lights. If your home is like mine and didn’t come equipped with dimmers, don’t fret—you’ll just need more candles (that’s the excuse that I use). Tall tapers give off the best, brightest light, but feel free to mix in some hurricane glass vases or low votives for variety. The more, the merrier!
8. Use dried flowers or grasses for a stress-free centerpiece
This low-maintenance centerpiece can be thrown together in mere moments before dinner is served, so if this is your first time cooking a Thanksgiving dinner, it’s a perfect, low-stress option. I love the idea of bringing in family heirloom vases for this (if you have them) since it makes the setup feel more sentimental and special.
9. Cozy up each seat
Ensure every guest feels cozy and comfortable while sitting around your table. If your dining room seating isn’t super plush on its own, bring in some extra layers to cozy things up. Drape throw blankets across the back of each chair, or line a wooden bench with faux sheepskin for a thoughtful touch your guests will appreciate.