How to Create an Inexpensive and Festive Thanksgiving Centerpiece

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I will be the first to admit that when it comes to a Thanksgiving centerpiece, I have to keep it simple. Decorating is not my specialty, but over the years I have found a few ways to create a simple elegance at our holiday table.

It’s true. A festive table centerpiece for your Thanksgiving dinner can be easily crafted with a few simple, widely available items from your grocery store, the local dollar store, or home goods store.

And you know I love to include the kids so you can be sure that these inexpensive Thanksgiving Centerpiece ideas are easy enough so your children (and teens) can help decorate the table at Thanksgiving.

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How to Create an Inexpensive Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that revolve around the dining table. With a lovely roast turkey and accompaniments, the focus is on food. You want the table centerpiece to shine and complement your dishes, ideally with a simple yet elegant look.

If the platters of food will be on the table, the decorations should be simple but distinctive enough to stand out amidst the food. If you plan to set up a buffet table, then you can use a more complicated centerpiece for the table.

Design a Centerpiece that Complements Your Dishes and Table Linens

Depending on the color or pattern of your china, you will want to coordinate your table colors. Fall is traditionally a time of rich deep colors, as seen in the fruits and vegetables of the season. Oranges, deep reds, greens, and shades of yellows are prevalent in fall decorations. But, you can depart from tradition; it’s really the host or hostess’ choice.

Look at the color of your linens and china and work from there. A new tablecloth or table runner can quickly be whipped up with a piece of cotton duck from the fabric store, or perhaps, a shawl or fabric sample you already have. A neutral color like white or a soft, creamy beige is versatile enough to be used year-round.

Once you’re picked the color, then choose your decorations to work with that color. Choose colors that will show up against your cloth.

Inexpensive Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Pillar Candles

Set your pillar candle in a vase that has room around it. Several hours before the meal, fill the vase with fresh cranberries and then nestle the candle at the top of the berries. It’s a beautiful focal point with seasonal fruit and a rich red to offset most colors.

You can also set pillar candles (large or small) in a small tray with seasonal items such as tiny pumpkins, gourds, and pinecones. this will bring seasonal beauty onto your table.

Glass bottles

Collect some glass bottles of various sizes and shapes, preferable ones with a neck. Purchase a small package of raffia, natural or dyed as suits your needs, to use as a bow for the bottle.

Add seasonal flowers, such as cut mums, or your flowers that match your selected color scheme. Simple sprigs of baby’s breath make a lovely display for any centerpiece in any colored glass bottle.

If you have enough bottles for each guest, then use them as table favors. Buy a few pieces of nice-looking parchment or fancy writing paper and write a special note on a strip of paper. Then tear or attractively cut the paper and wrap in a tight cylinder and insert it in the neck of the bottle. You might tie a flower or other unique item in the bow or sprinkle a few flower leaves around the base of the bottle. Each guest will have a special message and a pretty gift to take home with them.


The fall is a time for apples and pears. A basket or bin full of seasonal fruit can enhance the center of your table with simple, inexpensive elegance. Best of all, this practical centerpiece won’t take up room in the closet when dinner is over because the contents can be enjoyed with your meal or the next day!

Consider decorating with a simple row of pears (or apples) down the middle of your table, set on a white cloth or piece of burlap. Add a few tea light candles and your table is ready to go.

Pumpkins, Gourds and Seasonal Items

Miniature vegetables can be stacked in a pretty bowl or decoratively arranged directly on the table to give a feeling of the fall harvest.

Gather seasonal items such as decorative pumpkins, gourds, pinecones, leaves, and the like. Fill a small, rustic bin or tray to create a delightful centerpiece for your Thanksgiving meal.

A small pumpkin can also serve as a place card – use a gold or silver metallic pen and write each person’s name on the pumpkin. Place it on the dinner plate, on a yellow or red fall leaf, or directly on the plate.


Mums are a commonplace item in fall decorating. They are widely available and come in a range of colors. One large flower put can be used for the center of the table, or individual flowers can be used in various ways. Votive holders, inexpensive and versatile, make excellent mini-vases. You can carve out a hole in pears, apples, or pumpkins to make flower holders.

Allow yourself to think creatively as you contemplate decorating ideas for the Thanksgiving table. Using fruits and vegetables from your grocery store or commonly found objects is an inexpensive yet attractive way to draw attention to your dining table.

Ready for more Thanksgiving Ideas?


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