The Organized Life

Easy and Budget Friendly Thanksgiving Decor

Creating a Thanksgiving table that’s as much of a feast for the eyes as it is for the stomach doesn’t have to cost a fortune or involve a lot of work. Serving up elegant Thanksgiving decorations can be simple if you use what you already have on hand, especially with our bounty of DIY tips.

For help we turned to Art Director Stacy Nelson of Trash Lassies, a professional set and home decorating company. As a design expert, she also often advises clients and TV audiences on creating just the right holiday ambiance on a budget.

Stacy started with tips for using food as décor and suggested raiding the fridge and pantry for apples, squash and garlic cloves then placing them around the edge of serving plates and platters to “instantly up-style the food you present.”

Extending this food theme, a grand centerpiece is often the highlight of the Thanksgiving table, even if it comes in the form of a giant bird. Why not create your own traditional symbol of abundance by making your own cornucopia? You don’t even have to have a large, horn-shaped basket, says Stacy. Use a nice bucket or basket left from a past Easter or Christmas gift, turn it on its side, arrange a bed of lettuce leaves, and have fresh produce spill out. You could even have it double as your appetizers tray if you use carrots, celery, grapes and berries!

You can also create lovely harvest-theme centerpieces by filling vases and jars with apples, pears, nuts, grains, coffee beans and popcorn kernels.  “These all make for beautiful autumn style, and you can add a few candles or mix in some fall leaves,” says Stacy.

two table decoration images side by side showing pears used for table decorations in vases with feathers and on top of crystal candlesticks

Placing pears and apples on top of decorative candle sticks can also elevate your décor, literally, and provide nice dimension to your Thanksgiving table decorations.

Stacy also has some great tips for using vintage items to add glamour. Pull out your jewelry box and mix in some family treasures at the dinner table. Use grandma’s broaches as napkin holders or pin them to the side of a large candle. Tie bracelets or necklaces around vases and decanters. These are great ways to honor family members who may no longer be around, and still have them at the table. “It really gets guests talking and you can share memories of your loved ones,” says Stacy.

two images of table decorations showing vintage brooches used as a napkin holder and to adorn a candle

When you’re planning for holiday décor, you don’t have to stop at the table. When Stacy does work in TV production, she’s often asked to “stretch the scene” by decorating additional areas to expand the camera shot. You can do this in your home too by cozying it up with some fall style. Take advantage of deep discounts on pumpkins after Halloween and put them on your porch, in your yard and windows, says Stacy. The fireplace mantel is another focal point of the home, so give it a little extra something. Scout your yard for autumn leaves, dried stalks, and pinecones.

A picture on the wall can be replaced with corn stalks bundled together with a pretty ribbon hung right from the picture hook. Single flower stems can also be tied with some twine to dress up candles around the house or napkins on the table.

two photos showing fall decor on the mantle with yellow ginko tree leaves in vases on a mantle and Nutter Butter cookies decorated with faces and candy corn

You can also extend beyond the holiday spread with a task table for the kids. For example, have them help with a creative dessert. Make up a batch, or get simple store-made cupcakes, set out a craft table with assorted candy decorations and cake gels and let the kids go at it. “This is sure to entertain your guests and will keep kids busy for hours!”

Make your Thanksgiving décor the least stressful part of your get together and enjoy your gathering of friends, family and food.

Photos courtesy of Stacy Nelson