Thanksgiving is about sharing gratitude, gathering with loved ones, enjoying delicious food, and of course, setting the perfect ambience. DIY Thanksgiving decorations can be tricky. Nestled between Halloween and Christmas, it’s one holiday that tends to get lost within the bustle of the holiday season. While Christmas trees, ornaments, and other trimmings are in abundance, Thanksgiving adornments usually take up only a shelf or two at the store.
Luckily, DIY Thanksgiving decorations aren’t that difficult to muster up. In fact, you can often create beautiful centerpieces out of items that you may find in your own backyard. As long as it feels like autumn, it makes an ideal Thanksgiving decoration.
If you’re at a loss as to how you might decorate your home this Thanksgiving, we’ve got you covered. Here are some easy Thanksgiving decoration ideas.
1. Add tea light candles to apples
Every Thanksgiving table needs some nice lighting. Instead of going for boring table candles, use the apples in your fridge to make an adorable candle decoration.
It’s easier than you might think.
- Take a fresh apple and mark a circle the size of a tealight candle on top. If the apple is a little crooked, make sure that the candle will sit parallel to the flat tabletop.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully cut out a hole the size of a tealight candle. Don’t be too concerned if the inside isn’t even; as long as the candle lines up with the top of the apple, it will look fine.
- Because you will likely be preparing these decorations the night before Thanksgiving, put a healthy portion of lemon juice on the exposed interior apple. This will help prevent browning.
- Place the tealight candles in the apples, and arrange them on the dinner table and around the house.
- Although you can enjoy these candles until the apples wither—likely a few days—consider saving the apples for desserts or other treats rather than being wasteful.
Your dinner guests will love the whimsical look of the apples, and you’ll love how inexpensive and easy this simple decoration can be.
2. Decorate napkins with fake autumn leaves
The table setting is one of the most important parts of Thanksgiving (besides the actual feast, of course). The thing that can push your table from drab to fabulous are beautifully arranged napkins.
Add a Thanksgiving flare to your napkin rings with this simple project. All you need is some felt, a hot glue gun, fake autumn leaves, fake foliage, and ribbon or twine.
- Cut your felt in a nice shape. It doesn’t matter what it looks like; this is just to provide a nice base for the rest of the decoration.
- Arrange one or two leaves and some foliage on top of the felt piece and use a hot glue gun to keep it all together. Remember that less is more, and the glue will stick better if you decorate with fewer items.
- Glue twine or ribbon to the back of the felt piece.
- Tie the twine or ribbon nicely around a folded napkin with the leaves decoration sitting nicely on top.
Like the apple tealight candles, this is another DIY Thanksgiving decoration that won’t take too much time to create and is sure to impress. The best part is that you will be able to use these decorations next year, too.
3. Scatter gourds, autumn leaves, and autumn flowers down the center of the table
When you’re hosting Thanksgiving, it’s a whirlwind of planning, coordinating, and cooking on top of your normal responsibilities. Sometimes, you simply don’t have time to worry about making Thanksgiving decorations.
Instead, invest in some small gourds, pumpkins, fake autumn leaves, and red, orange, and yellow flowers, and scatter them down the center of the Thanksgiving table. This decoration will take two seconds to complete, it will leave you with an Instagram-worthy dining table, and it will add zero stress to your already stressful day. It’s a win for all!
4. Use cinnamon sticks as place card holders
Place cards are another nice little touch that doesn’t take too long to complete. After printing off place cards in a fancy font, use cinnamon sticks as place card holders.
The cinnamon has a fold that acts as a natural holder, and all you have to do is tie small ribbons on either end, and you have a unique, adorable, and easy place card holder that your guests are sure to love. And, the assigned seating will add an organized quality to the event, elevating it to a thing of class.
Afterward, you can save the cinnamon sticks for use in mulled wine or other treats, making this an environmentally friendly option, too.
5. Make an easy door decoration with ribbon and pinecones
Wreaths are well-known as the autumn and winter door decoration of choice. But, sometimes, you want something a little more special. This easy door decoration might be exactly what you’re looking for.
You’ll need thick ribbon, 7 – 10 pinecones, and a hot glue gun.
- Cut two-foot long strips of ribbon for each pinecone that you have. (For a more interesting look, vary the length of the ribbon.)
- Tie the ribbons together in a nice knot or bow at one end.
- At the other end of each ribbon, hot glue a pinecone.
- For extra flair, add other items to the ends of the ribbons, like bells or other foliage.
- Hang this super cute door decoration on your door.
You’ll love the way this decoration looks and the fact that it shouldn’t take you longer than 20 minutes to complete.
6. Go vintage
Thanksgiving is all about nostalgia, so you can’t go wrong with some vintage Thanksgiving decorations. Head to your local secondhand shop to find a treasure trove of antique items.
Look for things like:
- Small ceramic turkey figurines to place around the house
- Old spice cans or watering cans for floral arrangements
- Vintage graters that you can place on top of candles for unique table lighting
- Anything that strikes the Thanksgiving mood
You don’t have to spend a lot to have some gorgeous Thanksgiving decorations. Rather than going modern, take it back to your roots and add some sentimentality to your celebration.
7. Collect branches to create a gratitude tree
Don’t forget to share what you’re thankful for this year. You can collect dead branches from outside to create an adorable gratitude tree for you and your guests to enjoy.
After collecting two or three small branches, arrange them to look like a tree. You can tie them together with some twine or ribbon, or you can hot glue them. Place this bundle in a beautiful vase, mason jar, or anything that you have for display. Then, cut out paper maple leaves and attach them to the branches using ribbon. As your guests arrive, have them write what they’re thankful for on the leaves, and when dinner has started, you can share everyone’s gratitude with the table.
8. Make a banner
What better way to greet your guests than with a banner? It’s a super easy craft to make, and your guests will love the welcome.
Much of the items that you need can also be used for other DIY Thanksgiving decorations: twine, paper, and additional decorations, like flower bundles.
Cut out pieces of paper for each letter of your greeting. This can be in whatever shape you like: triangle, rectangle, autumn leaf, for example. Then neatly write out each letter of your greeting. Say something like, “Happy Thanksgiving,” “Let’s give thanks,” or whatever reminds your attendees of the holiday. (If your penmanship isn’t up to par, you can also use the computer to print out each letter.) Next, either hot glue the letters to the string or punch holes in the top of each letter and thread the banner string through.
Hang the banner either above the dining table or at the entrance for the most hospitable greeting. If your banner is looking a little empty, you can also attach upside-down flower bundles or other decorations to the string using clothespins for a nice vintage look.
9. Make a walnut garland
Garlands aren’t just a Christmas decoration. Add a Thanksgiving twist to a common ornament by using walnuts for decoration.
First, paint the walnuts any way that you like. You can opt for bright and colorful, or choose autumn colors to go with the Thanksgiving theme. If you have kids, this is a great time to get them involved in the Thanksgiving decorations; they’ll love painting the walnuts, and even toddlers will be able to make the walnuts look presentable.
After the paint has dried, use a long needle to thread some string or twine through the shells of the walnuts, similar to making a popcorn garland. You can also add beads or other decorations to make the garland more interesting.
Place the garland outside around a tree or on your porch, string them around your doorway, or lay them across the table. The best thing about this decoration is that it’s quite versatile. After Thanksgiving is over, crack the walnuts open for some table snacks or to make some holiday treats.
10. Use wine bottles and twinkle lights for table lighting
The key to excellent ambience is beautiful lighting. Luckily, there are a few ways to create lovely lighting on your own.
If you have some old wine bottles laying around, use them as unique and modern table decorations. Simply clean out the bottles and fill them with battery-operated twinkle lights. You can find twinkle lights made specifically to fill up a wine bottle. Once filled, place the wine bottles on the table or anywhere else throughout the house that needs a little bit of glow.
If you don’t have wine bottles, you can also use mason jars, vases, or other glassware that you have lying around. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors of glasses to add an element of whimsy. You can also group together different bottle types and sizes for a wonderfully eclectic look that your guests will love.
11. Make a paper tablecloth for the kids
The all-important kids’ table is always a balance between matching the Thanksgiving theme and ensuring that the kids won’t immediately make a mess. A nice paper tablecloth could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Paper tablecloths can be thrown away after dinner, and you can offer some crayons for the kids to draw directly on the tablecloth during dinner. Draw out each place setting with the child’s name, creating a nice table setting that you don’t have to worry about getting ruined.
12. Paint mason jars
Nothing says autumn quite like mason jars. If you’re one that has plenty of mason jars lying around, then you should make use of them for your Thanksgiving decorations.
This super easy DIY Thanksgiving decoration project can be done well even if you don’t have an artist’s talent.
- Tape an autumn leaf cutout firmly to the front of the mason jar, making sure that the edges are flush to the glass.
- Completely paint the mason jar using acrylic paint.
- Peel off the leaf cutout to reveal the leaf shape on the glass.
- Decorate the rim of the jar with twine, ribbon, and/or autumn foliage.
- Place a tealight candle in the jar for an easy and adorable Thanksgiving light.
The longest part of this project is waiting for the paint to dry, and as long as you store the jars carefully, you’ll be able to enjoy this decoration year after year.
13. Make a Thanksgiving Day chalkboard
If you’re not keen on making a tree to display what your guests are grateful for, then opt for a chalkboard instead.
Purchase a chalkboard from a secondhand shop or online. It can be small, and a rustic look is ideal to match the Thanksgiving theme. Using white paint, carefully write, “I am thankful for…” at the top of the board. Attach a ribbon or piece of twine to the chalkboard, and tie a piece of chalk at the end. Place the chalkboard at the entrance of your home, and have each guest add what they are thankful for as they arrive.
This is a great decoration to help set the mood for the day since your guests must consider their gratitude as they enter.
14. Use reclaimed wood as a centerpiece
Reclaimed wood perfectly captures the aesthetic of Thanksgiving. If you can find a nice, long piece of reclaimed wood, it makes a gorgeous table centerpiece upon which you can place other DIY Thanksgiving decorations.
Make sure that the reclaimed wood is clean and without splinters to keep your guests safe and happy. If necessary, consider staining it before using it as a centerpiece. You should also make sure that the centerpiece isn’t too wide so that you can fit all of the food on the table, too.
Once you place the wood centerpiece on the table, scatter gourds, pumpkins, leaves, and other autumn-themed decorations along it for a cohesive yet delightfully eclectic look.
15. Use a pumpkin as an ice bucket
For your chilled wine, instead of using a boring old ice bucket, hollow out a pumpkin to use instead. Once the pumpkin is hollowed, paint the outside, and write something fun, like “Drink up!” to add to the whimsy.
Once the pumpkin is decorated, fill it up with ice, and use it to chill your favorite wine or apple cider. This is one easy DIY Thanksgiving decoration that your guests won’t be able to get enough of.
DIY Thanksgiving decorations shouldn’t be difficult; as the host, you have enough on your plate rather than worrying about decorations that’ll only stay up for a few days. Luckily, there are plenty of Thanksgiving decoration ideas that won’t break your budget or your time constraints.