Thanksgiving can be one of the most intense holidays for a host but it doesn’t have to be. With all the DIY tips and tricks available for the inspired, there is almost no excuse for anyone to host a drab and unimaginative gathering. From table settings to chairs, the motivated host can produce a pulled together theme even for those last minute Marys or Marvins. Here’s a story many of us have experienced, at least from one past holiday. Aunt Lisi and Uncle Herb, who were supposed to be hosting Thanksgiving, call you 1 day before with the news they have the flu. Suddenly, you are hosting the Thanksgiving dinner and don’t have time to start shopping for decorative items to bring a festive something to the dining room because you have to focus on the food. Trust me….you already have everything you need to pull together a nice looking holiday table and dining room in your home. To begin, decide on a theme. It doesn’t have to be grandiose. Start with color, it’s the easiest thing to work with.

TABLE No matter what your table looks like, you will probably be pulling out the extension leaves, especially if you have a lot of company coming. I have always followed a rule of  20” center to center between plates for each setting. Here’s some good information regarding the various dining spacing questions you might have.

If you don’t have a table that extends, an old tried and true trick is to place a 4×8 piece of plywood on top of your dining table to allow for additional seating. This DIYer sat 18 people using (2) 4×8 pieces of plywood (and a couple of sawhorses to help with support under). I have used this method in the past and it does the job admirably. And, because it gets covered with a table cloth, it doesn’t matter what it looks like underneath. I used (3) over-lapping table cloths to create the color scheme and built on that.

NAPKINS If you don’t have enough cloth napkins in one color, this is where the mix and match approach shines. Using several different colors will help those various existing items you will be utilizing from around your house, to work well together. There are many napkin folding methods you can apply to help get your fancy on. Whatever else you do for decor, do NOT skip this step. Here are the (3) I really like from Martha Stewart’s site. BTW, don’t be shy, do some snooping around there to get more inspiration. She is after all, the queen of the table design.

  1. It doesn’t say Thanksgiving any better than this!
  2. A menu card in this one says fancy or you can place the silverware in the fold instead .
  3. For all you traditionalists!

DISHES & GLASSWARE There are no rules except it’s best to rely on coordinating and groupings. For instance, you might have 4 or 8 of one pattern and 4 or 8 of another. Split the one pattern on each end and then maybe place 2 of the same settings across from each other in the center of the table. If you alternate the patterns one after the other, it can feel too busy and not connected. The same folded napkin placed on each setting will absolutely help to pull the whole thing together.

CENTERPIECE One item that could inspire stress but does not have to is the centerpiece. In our November Pinterest board you will notice in the table decor pin, they used apples, pumpkins and many other gourds to create a simple centerpiece. Use this idea as inspiration to create your own without running out to a florist or the craft stores. Gather some leaves from outside and place them in a big glass vase or several smaller vases with a handful of twigs is a great go to when you are really in a pinch. The options are endless and is nothing difficult to put together.

CHAIRS If you are going the folding chair route and can swing it (yes, this would require a last minute trip to Target or Walmart) chair covers or sashes beautifully hide the non-matching styles of chairs your guests generously brought. If either are not do-able then try to follow my earlier advice of groupings. Split the styles to either end and then place them in some kind of pattern to work with your table settings. Bed Bath and Beyond had the nicest ones I have seen in a retail store and there are tons to be found online if you have the time to order them.

FINISHING TOUCHES Look around your home for candleholders, vases, bowls, pretty boxes and anything else to create a decorative touch on your table and surrounding areas. Use leaves and twigs to decorate with, make name cards, cut out pumpkins or gourds and place lighted votive candles in them, use fresh veggies as table décor….get creative with what you have.


Finally, relax, focus on your menu. It is all about the food and gratitude after all. Give your kids the job of collecting leaves and the items you need to decorate to help cut down the time and get them involved in the preparations.

We wish you a lovely Thanksgiving holiday with your friends and loved ones. Post pictures of your holiday décor and let us know if you need any advice or help. We are here for any of your holiday décor needs!

-Staci, Tara & Peri