Thanksgiving table decorations with pumpkins and dinnerware

Thanksgiving Table Decorations That Won't Break the Bank

Using fall leaves, miniature pumpkins, nuts and candy wrapped in foils you can create a display that will impress even the hardest to please guests without breaking the bank.

Happy Thanksgiving tag on a dinnerware set

Do you know how you are going to decorate your table for Thanksgiving yet?

Thanksgiving is almost here, with all the preparations that need to be made for the anticipated meal and guests, table decorations can sometimes be the last thing on our minds. Here are some Thanksgiving table decorating ideas that that will please the eye but won’t break the bank.

Entertainment SpaceThanksgiving food on a side table

Determine where you want the food to be served. I was lucky enough to have grown up with extended family nearby, that usually meant elbow room only and a variety of dishes to choose from for Thanksgiving. Because of close quarters, we had to set up a buffet so everyone could serve themselves as they pleased and no one ended up with their elbow in the creamed corn. This also meant that the table needed some additional decorations besides the usual candlesticks

My job growing up was to decorate the table, Truth be told my mom usually had some ideas in mind and provided the eye catching elements that made the table display beautiful. I really just got to arrange the display, but I learned a lot from the experience. One of those lessons was that if the table decorations consisted of candy, I couldn’t expect the table display to stay around for very long.

If you have enough space to serve the food at the table then most of your decoration needs will be simpler because you’ll need space to set the serving dishes down as they are passed around the table. Thanksgiving meals are beautiful on their own and they really don’t need much embellishment to feel festive.

However, if you have a lot of guests and especially if those guests also bring a variety of dishes to contribute, then a buffet may be the best way to serve the meal. If a buffet is what you are going for, that may leave your table bare and lacking in visual interest.


Starting with a good foundation is the key to decorating success. Select a beautiful tablecloth, I recommend choosing a solid color or a neutral print if you are going to do an elaborate center display, so the effect of your table decoration is not visually overwhelming. If the display you would like to do is simpler or you will be serving food at the table, then a bolder printed tablecloth will look great.

Table Runner

You can couple a solid colored table runner with a printed tablecloth to break up a busy or loud looking print and help move the eye up and down the table. A table runner also gives you a nice area to work with to build your center display on.

Thanksgiving table decorations with pumpkins and dinnerware

A floral arrangement in a pumpkin makes for a festive centerpiece.

Center Piece

A beautiful center piece can often be enough to decorate the table with. Plan your center piece so that it doesn’t obstruct your guest’s view of each other so they can converse. How about flowers placed in a nice vase or a cleaned out sugar pumpkin? If you go for an elaborate table display down the center of the table a bouquet may be overkill, but candle sticks may be just right.


Fall leaves are beautiful and perfect for Thanksgiving decoration with their vibrant colors. If you don’t have any vibrant fall leaves left then the craft store should have packets of them available to give your table display a pop of deep orange and red. Lay them in the center area of the table and have them thin out from there towards the edge of the table.

Long table full of thanksgiving food and dinnerware

Leaves and nuts are a beautiful way to adorn a table for Thanksgiving dinner.


If leaves are not an option go to a craft store and select a beautiful garland to wind around the center of the table. Garland is usually a great idea. Its ties everything together and keeps the eye moving around the table.

GourdsOrange candle by tiny pumpkins

One leftover pumpkin from Halloween, depending on the size, may be just right to give your Thanksgiving table display some height. Mini pumpkins are a cute addition for your table decoration, they are festive, colorful and don’t obstruct your view. Get a few to go around the outer area of the table runner zone. You can also add some variety to this display buy including decorative squashes and other gourds if that appeals to your personal style.

Metallic Paint

If you want your table display to look more elegant and less rustic, get a can of gold metallic spray paint and paint the pumpkins or leaves gold. Just remember that metallic spray painted items will probably look best as an accent, so unless you are going for a King Midas theme, don’t go overboard with the gold paint.


If metallic paint requires more time than you have available, buy candy wrapped in gold and orange foils. This will add just enough sparkle to your display to make it pop. Just toss them on there at the last minute and don’t expect them to stay around very long because people will eat them. Make sure to take a picture of your beautiful table display before the guests arrive.

Place CardsThanksgiving table with dinnerware and decorations

Depending on the family this detail may not be necessary or appreciated. However, if you happen to know that Uncle Tom and Uncle Steve will get into an overblown debate if they sit too close for too long then perhaps place cards would be a good idea. Name cards can be made out of anything. They can be as simple as a nice piece of card-stock with calligraphy writing or a spray painted leaf with the name painted on it. Don’t forget that a place card holder can be pretty creative too. You can use just about anything that stands up on its own and has a place to slip a card in, like pine cones or partially opened walnut shells.

Now that you have some ideas, get your kids to collect the leaves, pick up some mini pumpkins and spray paint at the store, and start working on the place cards and seating arrangements. You can’t start cooking for Thanksgiving just yet anyway so you might as well get a head start on the table decorations.

If you would like more ideas for Thanksgiving table decorations and other home decorating ideas, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. If you have a beautiful Thanksgiving table decorating idea sharing it with us on Pinterest and we’ll add it to our pin board. Good luck with your Thanksgiving preparations!