Thanksgiving Tablescape: 5 DIY Decorations

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Planning a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape is a fun way to get creative and create a festive atmosphere for your guests. Check out our 5 DIY decoration ideas to make this Thanksgiving’s table extra special!

Of course, it’s quicker and easier to head to the party store and pick up pre-made decorations, but those store-bought centerpieces and table decorations come with a hefty footprint, both environmentally and socially. They’re often meant to be used once and then tossed, and like any other product that’s mass-produced overseas, there’s a decent chance that there were questionable labor practices involved.

Thanksgiving is all about gratitude and sharing what’s in your heart with your friends and family, so not only are handmade decorations better for the planet, but when you make even some of the decorations yourself, you’re adding a little piece of you to your holiday decor. That’s something you can’t put a price tag on.

The decorations on the next few pages are very simple, for the most part, although one does require some basic sewing skills. For that project, I’ll offer a no-sew alternative! Up next, check out some simple, all-natural centerpiece ideas!

Up next: Fall fruit centerpiece

apple centerpiece

1. Fall Fruit Centerpiece

For me, a Thanksgiving centerpiece is all about celebrating fall’s bounty, and one easy way to do that is to bring that fall food into your decor. Here’s how!


  • Large, shallow bowl, tray, or large vase
  • enough red apples to fill your centerpiece, plus one pear (see below for variations, if apples and pears aren’t your thing!)
  • roll of twine


Fill the container 2/3 of the way with your apples, place the pear artfully, so it’s visible, then fill the rest of the way with the apples. Wrap the twine around the top of your container a few times, then tie a knot. I like to leave the loose ends on the longish side, so they dangle onto the table a bit.


Not crazy about red with a pop of green? Here are some other ideas:

  • change the ratio – make it mostly pears with one apple or use all one color, like in the photo above
  • use a mix of apples in different colors
  • try tiny gourds
  • fill with pine cones
  • use whole walnuts (in the shell) and fresh cranberries in your container

Up next: Miniature gourd place settings

miniature gourds

2. Miniature Gourd Place Settings

Miniature gourds are among of my favorite natural holiday decor materials. The directions below say to paint your gourds, but you can also leave them as-is for a more natural look. This works especially well if you can find a variety of differently-shaped and -colored mini gourds at your local market.

These painted gourds also make nice take-aways for your guests at the end of the meal.


  • 1-2 miniature gourds per guest
  • acrylic paint (optional)
  • paint brush (optional)


If you’re painting your gourds, use your brush to apply a thin coat of paint in your color(s) of choice. It’s better to do a few, thin coats rather than one thick one. Let the coats dry for at least an hour before you apply the next one. When they’re all painted, place one or two gourds at each place setting.


You can also use these little guys as place card holders! Punch a hole in the corner of your place card, tie it to a piece of twine, and tie the other end of the twine around the gourd’s stem. Easy peasy!

Up next: Pumpkin napkin ring holder


3. Pumpkin Napkin Ring Holder

Transform an old toilet paper or paper towel roll and reclaimed paper into cute, seasonal napkin rings!


  • toilet paper or paper towel tube
  • reclaimed paper of your choice – sheet music, book pages, junk mail, etc
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors
  • orange, brown, and green markers


This is simple to create in a few basic steps. You can get the rest of the tutorial here!


Does pumpkin not really go with your theme? No problem! You could really whip this up in any color that works with your decor – play around with it until you get the look you want.

Up next: DIY table runner (and a no-sew option!)

Image Credit: Photo by Bonnie Getchell

table runner

4. DIY Table Runner

A table runner is a great way to draw the eye to the main event: the food! You’ll want your runner to be at least two feet longer than your table, so a generous amount of fabric drapes down on either side.


  • sewing machine and thread
  • 1 large piece of fabric for your backing cut to 9″ x 65″ (or 9″ x the length of your table + 24″)
  • 8 pieces of scrap fabric, cut to 9″ X 8 1/2″ (or your long fabric’s length divided by 7, plus 1″)
  • pins
  • iron


This tutorial makes a quilted table runner, which is a fun way to bring a few colors and textures into your decor. Ready to get sewing? You can get the tutorial here!


Solid runner: If you want one solid color or a single print, rather than a quilted look, just cut your fabric to 10″ X the length of your table + 25″, and hem all the way around. Think of it as creating a giant, very long cloth napkin.

No-Sew: Sewing not your thing? Don’t worry! All you need to create a runner is that piece of fabric and pinking shears. Use your shears to cut your fabric to 9″ x 65″ or 9″ x the length of your table + 24″, and you’re done! Pinking shears are special scissors that cut a zig-zag edge. Unlike the straight edge that regular scissors create, when you cut fabric with pinks, it won’t fray at the edges.

Up next: Make a statement with your place cards

Photo by Becky Striepe

place card

5. Gratitude Place Cards

Your place cards can be as simple or as fancy as you like. An easy way to make your own place cards is to pick up a pack of recycled, unlined index cards, and fold them in half. Voila! Little tented cards that you can set at each place. At the Thanksgiving table, instead of telling folks where to sit try writing a small thought of gratitude on each place card. What a fun surprise for guests!

You can set the cards at each place and keep it simple, or try some of these variations!


Punch a hole in each card, and tie it to a gourd.

Use stamps, stickers, and stencils to decorate your place cards.

Use a decorative hole punch – did you know they come in all kinds of cute, tiny shapes??? – to add some interest.

Do you guys have any DIY Thanksgiving decorations in the works? Tell us about your tablescape in the comments!

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Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago

A time for showing gratitude

Margarita G.
Margarita G.3 years ago


Rosemary Rannes
Rosemary Rannes3 years ago

Becky all these crafty ideas are very thoughtful and decorative. I especially appreciate the Gratitude placecard which will be fun and inspiring. I plan to ask each family member to express their personal feeling of gratitude and make their own card before the dinner. Then everone will pick a card from a carved out gourd and place it on the table wherever they choose to sit. Then each person will 'show & tell' their card of gratitude!
My granddaughters always love to make their own 'personalized' creations. This is a culmination of a field trip for pine cones, a few chestnuts and assorted natural elements. I do not have a sewing machine anymore; however a needle and thread works wonders! I have always favoured organic vs synthetic and Thanksgiving is the perfect Holiday to layer all the elements.
Last but never least offering our individual donation to the Food Bank and including a homemade note of Happy Thanksgiving wishes : )

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Melissa Franklin
Melissa Franklin3 years ago

thanks for these great tips!!!

rene davis
rene davis3 years ago


Lynn D.
Lynn D.3 years ago

Thanks...would be nice if people used their real china and not paper plates!

L and P.
L and P.3 years ago

Please don't spoil the beautiful table decorations with a turkey corpse.

For those thinking of having a dead bird on the table, please go to the link below. I sincerely hope you will then reconsider.


Emma B
Emma B3 years ago


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson3 years ago