It’s showtime, people! We have just over one month left and three holidays to get through before the end of the year, and then we’re onto the next decade!
The first hurdle in our end-of-the-year dash is everyone’s favorite excuse to break out their yoga pants: Thanksgiving.
This harvest holiday is about spending time with family and friends and taking a moment to be grateful for everything you’ve been blessed with this year. This, all while you’re stuffing your face with mashed potatoes and turkey, of course!
This week, in the spirit of the holiday season, we’re sharing five last-minute, DIY Thanksgiving decor tips that are guaranteed to make your home the perfect autumnal retreat! We’re also sharing our top tips with you to help make Thanksgiving go on without a hitch. We even included a few of our Thanksgiving and holiday essentials to help you keep your home in tip-top shape this holiday season.
For our friends who love to live life on the edge and left everything to last minute: we hear you, we see you, heck, we are you!
Life often finds a way of creeping up on us during the holidays and it’s easy to put hosting and planning family get-togethers on the backburner of your list of priorities.
With that in mind, we’re giving you some DIY Thanksgiving decoration ideas (and some major Pinspiration!) that you can pull together at the last minute to make sure your get-together goes off without a hitch!
Make a thankful tree
A thankful tree is a way for your family and friends to quietly share the things they’re thankful for this season. Thankful trees are a great alternative to having everyone share their gratitude around the table, which can put guests on the spot and lead to some awkward silence, and add a fun, interactive element to the night’s festivities.
To make a thankful tree, collect some branches and leaves outside. If you don’t have access to either of those things because of where you live, feel free to purchase some branches and fake leaves from the craft store.
To assemble your tree, place the branches in a large vase with plenty of filler (ie: pinecones, marbles, pebbles, paper shreds, etc.,) and make sure they’re secure.
Gather some paper, tags, or pressed leaves and scatter them about the tree, along with some markers and pencil crayons. If you want to get fancy, coordinate the color of your “leaves” and writing utensils with your decor for a more sophisticated look.
To hang the leaves, either supply lengths of ribbon or pick up some miniature clothespins. Encourage guests to add onto the tree by setting an example and sharing what you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving season and place your “leaves” onto the tree before anybody else.
At the end of the night, you’ll have the chance to collect these grateful thoughts and store them in albums or in keepsake boxes. Make a tradition of these trees and compile the leaves to forever remember the things that you and yours are thankful for.
Organize guests with rustic place cards
If you’ve elected to organize guests using a seating chart, make sure everyone knows where they’re sitting with fun and festive place cards.
Instead of splurging on ready-made place card holders, get crafty and make your own!
Some of our favorite DIY Thanksgiving decorations include placeholders involving pinecones and blank gift tags or strips of twine and herbs.
If you’re artistically inclined, try your hand at calligraphy to add a personal touch to your guests’ names. These little touches go a long way in making a memorable day and night for you and your guests.
Create a centerpiece
A relatively easy way to beautify your table is with a Thanksgiving centerpiece.
Before rushing to the craft store to purchase something ready-made, consider making your own to fit into your home decor and reflect the aspects that make your space unique!
First, you’ll want to consider your room’s color palette and design scheme.
- Is your home farmhouse chic or maybe a little more eclectic?
- Are you a minimalist or a maximalist?
- Do you even want a centerpiece, or do you prefer having more room to spread out your feast?
To help orient you, we recommend starting from the bottom up.
Decide first whether or not you want to include a tablecloth and a table runner into your tablescape. There are benefits to including these, such as for aesthetic and textural purposes, or omitting them both entirely, namely not having to wash them at the end of the night, but the choice is ultimately yours to make.
Next, you’ll want to choose a central theme and a few focal points.
We recommend sticking to a theme that compliments your whole decor vibe and building upon it by adding fall and Thanksgiving-themed table decor.
For example, if you lean towards a shabby chic style with cool tones and lots of florals, choose some white gourds and eucalyptus leaves as your theme.
If you have more of an eclectic or french country style, opt for elaborate candelabra-style candle holders and vintage-themed pieces that play up the opulence and perfectly curated feel of your home.
Once you’ve decided on your theme, it’s time to layer up!
The key to any successful Thanksgiving centerpiece is the inclusion of many layers. These layers should not only add volume to the centerpiece, making your tablescape appear more “full” than it is, but also dimension, interest, and texture.
Florals and lighting tick all of these boxes, providing an easy and affordable way to take your centerpiece from great to stunning. Add both of these elements wherever there’s an empty space or in places that are in need of a little something extra.
Set your table
Table settings can be more than a little perplexing for both hosts and guests.
There are so many different styles of table settings, ranging from the ornate to the minimal, that it can often feel overwhelming, as a host, to choose one, and positively nerve-wracking to sit in front of one with the expectation of having to use it as a guest!
There are plenty of tablescapes that incorporate more sophisticated elements that instantly elevate your space and that you can easily pull together with the dishes and cutlery you already own. To keep things low-key, and since no one really cares, we recommend going with an informal place setting arrangement.
Although there is an international standard that most people agree upon when it comes to informal table settings, what that means is ultimately up to you and your needs.
We personally recommend the following setup because it’s simple yet streamlined to provide guests with everything they’ll need during the big meal:
- charger (optional)
- plates (dinner, salad, dessert, etc.)
- napkin (cloth or paper)
- cutlery (at least one set)
- glasses (one each for water and wine)
Keep kids happy with a creative table runners
Assuming you’ve done all the work, you’re very nearly ready to host a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner.
Before you dust your hands of all holiday preparations it’s best to take a moment to consider your younger guests and your Thanksgiving table settings.
Often relegated to their own, separate, table, children can often feel left out and even bored during holiday festivities. This can lead them to act up or throw fits, aggravating parents and dampening the evening for all. To remedy this, consider folding the children into the main table arrangement and giving them an activity that’s fun and easy to set up.
Before setting up your Thanksgiving centerpiece and place settings, unfurl a roll of craft paper over the table so that it runs perpendicular to the long edge like a table runner. Once you’ve trimmed the paper to suit your taste, set up your table arrangement as usual. Before guests arrive, provide the young’uns with plenty of crayons and pencils to scribble away through dinner to their hearts’ content.
Decorate your home as soon as Halloween is over so you can get the most out of your decorations and cut your stress in half. Similarly, as soon as Black Friday rolls around, make it a point to take the harvest decor down.
- Read through and practice the recipes you’re planning to make and make sure you have all the ingredients and tools you need. Don’t try anything new the day-of unless you’re an incredible cook.
- Finalize the menu for the night and confirm guest attendance the week before to minimize unexpected additions and no-shows.
- Go shopping a few days in advance, but be strategic about what you buy. Buy canned goods and non-perishable items during your first trip (yes, we recommend multiple grocery store trips!) and perishable items like meat, dairy, and desserts on your last.
- Plan your Thanksgiving eve and Thanksgiving day down to the minute. Schedule cook and prep time into your day, and stick to the game plan.
- Make a list of items you need to prep in advance. The week of, begin prepping raw ingredients like vegetables and brine. Double-check that you’ve done all the prep that you could possibly do, and check off the items you’ve prepped as you go.
- Keep your bar cart well stocked and have backups handy (just in case)!
Remember: Thanksgiving is about family and being thankful for what you have—not about having the most Instagrammable dinner spread. As long as you’re all together, that’s what matters most.
It’s easy to get caught up in the minuscule details of the holidays and obsess over the most trivial things instead of focusing on the bigger picture. You owe it to yourself and to your guests to take a minute to recenter yourself and reevaluate what really matters during this time of year.
When everything is said and done, hardly anyone will remember the details of the night. What they will remember, however, is the moments you shared, the stories you told, and the delicious food you all enjoyed.
Try to keep this in mind as you prepare your home for Thanksgiving guests. Find gratitude in the very act of sharing a meal with those you love most, and remember that it is, after all, time to give thanks for the people and opportunities around you.