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Easy Thanksgiving Centerpiece Decoration Ideas

Stephanie has published many articles on inviting home décor, entertaining ideas and recipes.

Flowers for Thanksgiving centerpiece

Flowers for Thanksgiving centerpiece

Thanksgiving Centerpiece Ideas

Whether you are hosting the entire family for Thanksgiving dinner or planning an intimate meal for yourself and your loved one, you will want to create a beautiful setting for the celebration. Thanksgiving centerpiece decorations can be simple and homemade or consist of elaborate cornucopias filled with seasonal flowers and fruit.

If you're having trouble deciding how to dress up your dining room table for Thanksgiving, consider some of the ideas in this article. Personally, I keep the following considerations in mind when choosing centerpiece decorations:

1. Don’t Block Views of the People Sitting Across the Table

To allow ease of conversation, your guests will want to see each other. A huge centerpiece may make it awkward to chat with your mother or your brother-in-law (unless that's an intended effect!)

2. Match the Scale of the Décor to the Size of the Table

A long, wide table will need more substantial centerpieces than a smaller, square table. Conversely, you don't want to take up the entire tabletop with decorations!

3. Fragrance-Free Is the Way to Go

While lilies are beautiful flowers, their heady scent may compete with the delicious aromas of the meal you have worked hard to prepare. Likewise, choose unscented candles for your centerpiece.

More Ways to Dress Up Your Holiday Table

Figured out your decorations? Don't forget these other ways to dress up your holiday table:

  • Tablecloth and/or table runner. Used to protect the finish of the dining room table (or maybe to hide imperfections), table linens come in a wide variety of colors, designs and cloths.
  • Napkins. Coordinate or match your tablecloth or table runner. Place at each person's table setting. Fold simply or elaborately.
  • Napkin rings. Purchase or make your own decorative napkin rings to dress up table linens. Rustic wood rings or elaborate or bejeweled napkin rings can be like jewelry for your dining room table.
  • Candles. In the dining room, be sure to use non-scented candles. Eco-friendly candles burn cleaner, which is an added bonus.

Large Centerpiece Decorations

If you are hosting a large group for Thanksgiving, you probably have a big table to decorate. Large Thanksgiving centerpiece decorations can consist of a single focal point on the table or several smaller centerpieces grouped along the mid-line of the table. Be sure to leave room for food and plenty of elbow room, and consider your guests' line of sight to keep the conversation flowing.

The Classic Cornucopia

One of the most popular Thanksgiving centerpieces is the cornucopia, or "horn of plenty." This traditional decoration usually consists of a wicker horn-shaped basket, laid on its side, with seasonal fruits flowing out of it onto the table.

Choose a variety of sizes, shapes and colors for your cornucopia filling, including apples, grapes, small pumpkins, pomegranates, gourds, zucchini and more! To change the look of a cornucopia, consider painting the basket with spray paint or adorning it with seasonal ribbons. Bright fall foliage can also be mixed in with the fruit.

A Floral Arrangement

It's hard to go wrong with floral arrangements for holiday centerpieces. If you order flowers, talk to your florist about desired colors for the centerpiece and ask that overly fragrant blooms not be used. Centerpiece decorations are usually created in a long, low arrangement.

Often, you can bring in a favorite vase or bowl from home that the florist will fill at no extra cost. While Thanksgiving isn't the busiest time of year for florists, do make sure that you place your order with plenty of time to ensure that your arrangements turn out as desired.

Filled Hurricane Containers

Another popular and easy-to-create idea is using glass hurricane candle containers, candles, and your choice of fillings:

  • Hazelnuts in their shells
  • Fresh whole cranberries
  • Glass beads (clear or amber-colored)
  • Or, for the young at heart, candy corn

For a large dining room table, use at least 4–5 hurricane containers in various sizes, grouped in the center.

Candles and Ribbons

Festive Thanksgiving craft ribbon can be tied around the containers, as well. Add interest by grouping small votive candles in similarly colored containers around the edges of the arrangement, fall leaves and small pumpkins or other gourds. You can make this centerpiece even more impressive and dramatic by using 20–30 containers and candles, grouped along the mid-line of the table.

Candles give a warm glow to a holiday table

Candles give a warm glow to a holiday table

Creative Thanksgiving centerpieces for small tables

Creative Thanksgiving centerpieces for small tables

Small Centerpiece Decorations

If your celebration is going to be more intimate or if you simply are going to set additional smaller tables to accommodate your guests, consider these small decorations for tables seating four or less.

The key here is to keep the centerpiece small so that it doesn't overwhelm the table or detract from the intimacy of the setting.

A Ceramic Pumpkin

Among my favorite centerpiece ideas is placing a ceramic pumpkin in the middle of the table and using fall leaves and small votive candles around it. You can also use a real pumpkin, hollowed out, with a small vase inside to hold flowers (watch the video above).

Candles, Pumpkins, and Wine Glasses

I love this idea from Tip Junkie that takes wine glasses, placed upside down over a mini pumpkin, topped with votive candles on the base of the glass, which faces up (see image right). Arrange the wine glasses on a flat tray surface.

As shown in the photograph below, why not nestle small votive candles in a shallow bowl of cranberries for a modest yet beautiful centerpiece?

Smaller Hurricane Candles

Of course, the hurricane candle container idea discussed above works equally well for small tables, provided you scale down the size of the candle and container accordingly.

Candles positioned in cranberries make a beautiful Thanksgiving decoration

Candles positioned in cranberries make a beautiful Thanksgiving decoration

Turkey breadbasket makes a terrific centerpiece

Turkey breadbasket makes a terrific centerpiece

Kids' Table Decorations

When setting a kids' table for Thanksgiving, choose non-flammable, unbreakable items. This means staying away from candles and breakable vases or bowls.

Thanksgiving decorations for the kids' table should be fun and festive. In fact, you can even involve young guests in creating their very own centerpieces. Here are some ideas:

  1. Oranges with cloves. Select firm, ripe oranges and insert the "stick" part of the whole cloves into the orange peel. Children can make designs with the cloves if desired. Place the finished oranges in a bowl and position them in the center of the table. Be sure to wash your hands after this project because rubbing your eyes with clove dust can be irritating!
  2. Painted pumpkins. Set up a craft table with small pumpkins or other gourds and washable, non-toxic paints and paintbrushes. You'll probably want to have a few large grown-up t-shirts to put on over the children's holiday clothes. Have the kids paint the pumpkins and allow at least 30 minutes to dry before putting them on the table.
  3. Turkey Breadbasket. The one thing you know kids will eat on Thanksgiving is bread! Make the breadbasket shown to the right for a centerpiece, using a woven basket, wooden spoon, construction paper, thin wood skewers and glue sticks. First, decorate the back of the spoon as the turkey's head, using pens or construction paper (googly eyes can be glued on, as well). Then create "feathers" with construction paper. On the inside of each "feather" apply glue and sandwich a wooden skewer between two "feathers." Put dry floral foam in the front and back of the basket, insert the head on one end and the feathers on the other and cover with a cloth napkin. Fill with bread or rolls!

If you prefer to have the kids' table already set and ready for Thanksgiving (without the mess and hassle of a craft), my favorite decorations for the younger set is the Pilgrim Hat Centerpiece shown below.

Create these fun flower pots with Terra cotta pots, black spray paint, a hot glue gun, black cardstock and black and gold felt. Paint the pots black and allow them to dry. Cut a circle out of black card stock that is about 2" larger than the top of the pot. From that circle, cut a smaller circle within to allow room for flowers. Cover the circle with black felt and glue to the top of the pot. Cut square "buckles" out of gold felt and glue to the front of the pot. Fill with flowers and enjoy!

Adorable DIY Thanksgiving centerpiece decorations

Adorable DIY Thanksgiving centerpiece decorations

Don't Stress About the Centerpiece!

If you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your home this year, remember that your table is going to be beautiful no matter how it is decorated. Bringing family and friends together for a shared meal and giving thanks for the blessings in our lives, no matter how big or small, is the purpose of the holiday. Keep that in mind, relax, and enjoy the company!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nicely sized Thanksgiving centerpiece

Nicely sized Thanksgiving centerpiece

© 2011 Stephanie Marshall


Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 24, 2011:

Hi Jeff, thanks! It is time to start planning the holiday table. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Best, Steph

Jeff_McRitchie on October 24, 2011:

This was a great Hub to come across, especially since Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Thanks for posting it.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 17, 2011:

Hi Sannel, You are right that many of these centerpiece decoration ideas can be changed up to fit other seasons/celebrations throughout the year. I love changing the décor throughout my home for fall and spring. Cheers, Steph

SanneL from Sweden on October 17, 2011:

So many inspiring ideas!

I enjoy to dress up my table for any occasion, it makes it look so festive.

I just love the wine glasses, placed upside down over the mini pumpkins. Very cute! Its a decoration you can use all through the year, just change the pumpkins to something more fitting accordingly to season or holiday.

Many, many thanks!

Voted up, useful and beautiful.


Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 14, 2011:

Thank you kitty and htodd,

I really love fall colors, pumpkins and deep reds (cranberries). What a gorgeous time of year for the holidays. Cheers, Steph

Kitty Fields from Summerland on October 14, 2011:

Very well put-together. Voted up and awesome. The centerpieces are beautiful and perfect for Thanksgiving. Gotta love pumpkins and fall colors!

htodd from United States on October 09, 2011:

Great post...Thanks

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 08, 2011:

Hi Sherri,

Thanks! I agree about the napkin folding video. I had to watch it a couple of times. Hard to believe its time to plan for Thanksgiving already. Seems that summer was just a few weeks ago. Cheers, Steph

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 08, 2011:

These are wonderful ideas. I especially enjoyed the napkin-folding video...I only wish she'd go a little more slowly! Thanks for putting this together, Steph. Voted up and beautiful.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 05, 2011:

Thanks Jamie - that centerpiece is my favorite too! I think it will be on our table this year at Thanksgiving. Best to you, Steph

Jamie Brock from Texas on October 05, 2011:

So many great ideas here..LOVE them! How clever is the centerpiece with the upside down wine glasses/gobblets with the pumpkins inside!?! Thanks so much for sharing this!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 01, 2011:

Hi Maralexa,

Glad that the hub is timely for Canadians' Thanksgiving celebrations, too. Its a wonderful time of year to gather friends and family together. Hope you have a special holiday, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 01, 2011:

Thank you Praesetio - while these ideas are for Thanksgiving centerpieces, they can also dress up any dining room table during autumn months. Cheers, Steph

Marilyn Alexander from Vancouver, Canada on October 01, 2011:

Wonderful hub! I really like the upside down wine glass candles and kids table decorations. I too love decorating my table with flowers. It is right around the corner for those of us in Canada so thanks for the beautiful reminder.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on September 30, 2011:

This was so beautiful and creative decorations for thanksgiving. Unfortunately, there's no thanksgiving party in my country. But I really enjoy this hub and feel the aura of thanksgiving by reading this information. Beautiful pictures and video. You have done a great job, Steph. Vote up and have a nice day!


Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 30, 2011:

Hi movie master, I remember making the oranges and cloves at Girl Scouts many years ago. Thought it would be fun for kids at Thanksgiving. Best, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 30, 2011:

Thank you Om, I love the pumpkins/wine glasses centerpiece too! Cheers, Steph

Movie Master from United Kingdom on September 30, 2011:

What some fabulous ideas here, I especially like the clove oranges and the turkey breadbasket for the kids table.

many thanks for sharing.

Om Paramapoonya on September 30, 2011:

Very neat ideas! I love the one with small pumpkins and upside-down wine glasses. So creatively cute.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 30, 2011:

Thanks Steph! I think its great to dress up the children's table for Thanksgiving as well. The turkey bread basket will be a big hit. Best, Steph

Steph Harris from Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom on September 30, 2011:

Wonderful ideas Steph, the tips for the childrens table are very good and I love the Turkey bread basket. Voted up, interesting and useful.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 29, 2011:

Hi Robin,

Love the double-walled candle holder idea! Pottery Barn has really neat home décor. I also love Williams-Sonoma. We have a turkey platter from that store from years ago. Its my favorite Thanksgiving piece. Best, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 29, 2011:

Thanks Cloverleaf! We are definitely going to make the turkey breadbasket this year. My sister and her husband always visit with their two kids, so we have 6 children around the kids' table for Thanksgiving. I am already getting excited! Cheers, Steph

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on September 29, 2011:

Great ideas! The turkey bread basket is awesome. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is setting the table. It sets the mood for the entire dinner! One idea that I am going to try this year is having a double walled candle holder, they sell one at Pottery Barn, and placing a candle in the center, then in the second layer placing family photos. I'm going to surround this with small votives and gourds that are all placed down the center of the table. Thanks for all of the ideas!

Louise from Calgary, AB, Canada on September 29, 2011:

Hi Steph, excellent suggestions for Thanksgiving decorations and proper etiquette, too! The turkey breadbasket is really cute; I think adults would love it just as much as kids :-)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 29, 2011:

Thank you Eiddwen!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 29, 2011:

Hi Susan,

I do hope you can use some of these centerpiece ideas for your Thanksgiving celebration in Canada. Cheers! Steph

Eiddwen from Wales on September 29, 2011:

A beautiful and so very useful hub.

Thanks for sharing and I vote up.

Take care


Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on September 29, 2011:

I really like many of your ideas here. Thanksgiving in Canada is in October for us so your hub came at a perfect time for me.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 28, 2011:

Thanks ktrapp - I agree. We have four children and they really love Thanksgiving. Making centerpieces can keep them busy while the adults work in the kitchen (or watch football) ;) Cheers, Steph

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on September 28, 2011:

I especially like the one on the kids' table --very cute and this way they don't feel left out.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on September 28, 2011:

Thanks Anginwu - I love decorating for the holidays and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite events!

anglnwu on September 28, 2011:

Timely tips for Thanksgiving. I always make my own centrepieces for Thanksgiving. I've tried the cranberries one you show on the picture. I filled up a big vase with cranberies and just put a candle in it. Rated up and awesome!