Let's be honest: the holidays aren't exactly synonymous with innovative design, and it's not always your first priority during this busy season. Over the course of two months, you have to snag perfect gifts for your loved ones, figure out how to baste a turkey, and decorate for two different holidays. That’s a lot to accomplish in a pretty short time frame. And since “decorating for Thanksgiving” is one of the least pressing items on any holiday to-do list, it’s no surprise that many of us stick to the same turkeys and decorative gourds year after year.
Being swamped with holiday responsibilities doesn’t mean your eye for design has to take a backseat. In fact, there are plenty of Thanksgiving décor ideas that are both effortlessly stylish and easy to assemble. And with the right inspiration, you can throw together a sleek Thanksgiving décor scheme in no time at all.
To help you get started, we’ve rounded up a bunch of Thanksgiving décor ideas that are sleek, simple, and—in many cases—surprising. From eye-catching tablescapes to surprising pops of décor, the following ideas prove that hosting a chic Thanksgiving isn’t just possible—it’s genuinely easy.
Set the Scene With a Striking Tablecloth
Your dining room table will be the focal point of any Thanksgiving meal you host, and decorating it doesn’t have to be complicated. By snagging a striking tablecloth, you can set the scene for your favorite dishes, glasses, and flatware. And crafting a pretty tablescape will be as simple as setting the table. Keep things classic with a traditional fall color, like red, orange, yellow, or brown, or welcome your guests with an unexpected shade like the blue above.
Cozy Up Your Kitchen
If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving feast, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in your kitchen. So look for ways to make your kitchen as cozy and festive as the rest of your home. The next time you’re baking a pie, consider lighting a few candles. Little touches, like these, can bring some holiday cheer to activities that might otherwise feel a little stressful.
Score Décor That Works During More Than One Holiday
Instead of cycling out your holiday décor the moment Thanksgiving is over, look for ways to bridge the gap between different holidays. White pumpkins work well during both Halloween and Thanksgiving, and evergreen branches can take you from the start of November through the end of winter. By stocking up on these versatile, transitional pieces, you can keep your home feeling decorated—without having to redo your décor scheme every single month.
Drape Plants Over Your Pendant Lights
Garlands make an easy addition to any holiday décor scheme—the only problem is figuring out where to put them. Spreading them across your dining room table is a classic choice, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, you need all the tablespace you can get. So consider draping them above your dining room table along your pendant lights or chandelier instead.
Stock Up on Seasonal Smells
Smell may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of décor, but Thanksgiving scents are some of the loveliest and most recognizable around. And most of us only get to enjoy them twice a year—on the day we’re cooking our Thanksgiving feast, and on the day we’re eating it.
So get yourself in the Thanksgiving spirit by spreading the smells throughout November. No, you don’t need to bake a fresh pumpkin pie every day. But by lighting a candle that smells like pumpkin pie, you can make yourself feel like you have.
Swap Your Go-To Gourds With Fruit
Give the gourds a rest by peppering your dining room table with pomegranates. While the fruit will make an unexpected addition to your spread, its ruby-red hue should pair nicely with the rest of your autumnal décor.
Craft Some Custom Place Cards
What’s the difference between a good host and a great host? Small, thoughtful touches—like custom place cards. Formalize your seating arrangement by putting a personalized place card on top of each plate. Or leave the place cards in a pile, and let guests use them to claim their own seats.
Fill a Flower Vase With Fall Leaves
Pretty fall bouquets abound, but if you’d like to fill your vases with something more surprising, consider trading your flowers with fall leaves. Snatch up some of the leaves that have fallen in your yard, and slip them inside a vase full of water.
Mix and match leaves from different trees, or keep things streamlined by sticking to one type of leaf.
Welcome Your Guests With a Festive Chalkboard
Make your Thanksgiving meals feel more ceremonial by welcoming guests with a festive sign. By framing a small chalkboard, you’ll have an option that works for any holiday—just update it with a message that suits the day’s gathering.
Line Your Table With Pinecones
One fun way to stock up on Thanksgiving décor without spending any money at all? Forage for décor in your own backyard. If your porch is covered in pinecones, line your dining room table with them. The foraged finds should leave you with a more textured tablescape—and a cleaner porch.
Mix and Match Your Glassware
Glassware is a must at any holiday feast, and you don’t have to stick to the same sleek options. By mixing and matching glasses from different sets, you can make your tablescape feel more dynamic without adding any clutter.
Put Pumpkins Where You’d Least Expect Them
Spread Thanksgiving cheer throughout your house by putting pumpkins in unexpected places—like all over your powder room. The surprising choice should put a smile on your face every time you see it, and it’s sure to delight the guests you’re hosting for holiday meals.
Trade Classic Chairs for Floor Seating
Convinced you need a formal dining room to host a great feast? Think again. By surrounding a coffee table with cozy floor seating, you can host a Thanksgiving feast that’s both eye-catching and original. Add ambiance with lit candles and small flower bouquets, and offset the casual feel of your gathering with elegant dinnerware.
Pick an Untraditional Palette
A traditional Thanksgiving color scheme is filled with classic autumnal shades like red, orange, yellow, and brown. But no one said your décor had to be traditional. If you find yourself drawn to other colors—like soft neutrals or pretty pastels—fill your palette with those, instead. The surprising choice should leave you with a tablescape that’s both striking and memorable.
Line Your Front Porch With Pumpkins
Your dining room table may be the star of your holiday décor scheme, but great style starts at your front door. So consider lining your front porch steps with pumpkins. The decorative accent should set the tone for the rest of your space. And if you stack the pumpkins—rather than spreading them out—you can keep your steps from feeling cluttered.
Craft a Centerpiece from Dried Flowers
Some holidays just go with certain plants. (Christmas has its holly leaves and evergreen trees, and Halloween has its pumpkins.) But since Thanksgiving’s most iconic options are wheat bundles and gourds, you might want to branch out a little.
By stocking up on dried flowers, you can fill your space with classic Thanksgiving colors (like yellows, oranges, and browns). And you can also craft all kinds of décor. Hang the flowers from your wall, store them inside vases, or drape some on your table to create a pretty centerpiece.
DIY Some Custom Wine Charms
Help your guests keep track of their wine glasses by creating some custom wine charms. Combine DIY wax seals with ribbons and magnets to create a wine charm that can rest on the rim of a glass. Or keep things simple by pairing a wax seal with a ribbon that you can tie around the base of a glass. Either way, you’ll end up with something that elevates your tablescape—and that makes each guest’s experience a little lovelier.
Play With a Few Different Prints
One easy way to make a statement? Layer prints and patterns. Pair a striped tablecloth with some gingham napkins, and throw in some printed plates for good measure. Add breathing room by alternating between printed and solid-colored pieces, and keep things streamlined by paring down your palette to one or two shades.
Hang a Fall-Friendly Wreath
Not ready to display your favorite evergreen wreaths? Hang a fall-friendly option, instead. DIY a wreath using autumn leaves, fall flowers, and bits of wheat. Or snag a store-bought option you can whip out year after year.
Turn Your Table Settings Into Goodie Bags
Instead of welcoming guests with a traditional table setting, treat them to party favors they can take home once the Thanksgiving feast is done. Sneak a wooden basket onto every plate, and fill it with festive items—like tiny pumpkins, herbs, notes, and anything else you can think of.
Invest in a Festive Doormat
A festive doormat may seem unnecessary. But it can be a great way to get guests in the Thanksgiving spirit from the moment they step foot on your front porch. Snag an option that’s emblazoned with a Thanksgiving-friendly message, or DIY your own using a blank doormat and some paint.
If you already have a doormat you leave out year-round, consider layering your festive doormat on top of it.
Sprinkle in Some Cooler Colors
Fall is often associated with warm colors. But if you want to give the oranges and reds a rest, consider playing with a cooler palette, instead. Craft an unexpected décor scheme filled with pretty blues and soft greens. Or simply use cool colors to balance out some of the boldest, warmest accents on your table.
Let Your Bar Cart in on the Fun
Want to kick your holiday happy hour up a notch? Outfit your bar cart with Thanksgiving décor. Layer in a few decorative accents—like a bowl of red apples, a cozy candle, and a vase filled with autumn leaves—and your bar cart should feel festive in no time. And if you really want to take things to the next level, you can even craft a signature seasonal cocktail.
Holiday gatherings tend to start very early in the evening. So instead of asking your guests to eat a huge, decadent meal at 5 p.m., try starting the festivities with a cocktail hour featuring a bevy of holiday-themed cocktails.
Fill Your Fireplace With Pumpkins
Come fall, your fireplace will be the hottest spot in your entire house. And even if your fireplace isn’t functional, you can leave it feeling festive by filling it with pumpkins of all sizes, shapes, and colors.
Drape Decor From Rustic Branches
With a little creativity, the way you hang your décor can be just as eye-catching as the decor itself. So instead of draping your wreaths from traditional hooks and nails, consider mounting a rustic branch on your wall and hanging your wreaths from that.
Finding a striking branch is as easy as rummaging around in your backyard, and depending on how long your branches are, you can use them to hang a few wreaths at a time—or you can pair each wreath with its own branch.
Slip a Welcoming Message on Every Plate
Table settings tend to be pretty formulaic, so even tiny details—like handwritten notes—can make them feel a lot more special. Consider cutting up some slips of paper and writing a brief message on each. You can craft a custom note for each of your Thanksgiving guests, or you can stick with a simple mantra, like “Happy Thanksgiving.”
Add Texture With Wheat Accents
Just because flowers are a tablescape staple doesn’t mean they’re mandatory for your holiday spread. So if you want to shake things up, consider trading your go-to bouquet for a batch of wheat. Store the seasonally appropriate plant inside a pretty vase, and let it add a welcome dose of texture to your tablescape.
Turn Your Pumpkins Into Planters
Looking for a way to repurpose October’s pumpkins? Consider turning them into decorative planters. Slice the tops off your pumpkins, hollow them out, and fill them with festive flowers. To keep your pumpkin planters in tip-top shape, consider lining them with castile soap, petroleum jelly, or olive oil. (This should keep them from rotting.) Or keep things simple by making your planters from paper-mache pumpkins, rather than natural ones.
Line Your Walls With Natural Garlands
Garlands look great lining shelves, tables, and mantelpieces. But if you’re looking for a particularly striking way to display them, consider mounting them directly on your wall. This approach is a wedding industry favorite. Though it may require a little extra effort, it’s sure to elevate your Thanksgiving gatherings.
Print a Menu for Each Table Setting
Your Thanksgiving décor can’t make your food taste any better, but it can make the meal feel more special. Get guests excited about the feast that lies ahead by placing a Thanksgiving menu on every plate. In addition to making the get-together feel more ceremonial, the menus should be a useful tool for your guests—helping them navigate potential allergens and figure out which dishes to prioritize.
Store Candles Inside Cloches
Candles make a cozy addition to any home. And when clustered inside a cloche, vase, or some other glass jar, they tend to look particularly elegant. Use the DIY accent to dress up a bare shelf or an empty corner, or make it the focal point of your dining room table.
Frame Your Front Door With Fall Flowers
Between wreaths, doormats, and pumpkin-lined steps, you have all kinds of options for dressing up your front porch. But one approach that never gets old? Frame your front door with two massive planters, and fill them with pretty fall flowers.
Turn Conversation Starters Into Decor
The only thing more terrifying than a poorly designed tablescape? A silent dinner party. So stock up on conversation starters that can double as décor.
Start by cutting out a handful of paper leaves. Then, paint one side of each leaf a pretty color—and print out an icebreaker on the other. Line your table with the leaves, placing the painted side face-up. Then, invite your guests to get to know each other by flipping over leaves throughout the meal.
Add Autumn Leaves to All Your Bouquets
Turn a classic bouquet into an autumnal statement-maker by filling it with fall plants. Sprinkle in a few autumn leaves you’ve plucked from your yard, and consider sneaking in some wheat stalks, too. These festive additions should make any bouquet look handmade—leaving you with a decorative accent that looks a lot more effortful than it was.
Fill a Bowl With Tiny Pumpkins
If you’ve been decorating with pumpkins since the start of October, your décor scheme may feel a little stale. But instead of buying new décor, look for ways to rearrange what you already have.
Consider grouping your smallest pumpkins in a bowl, or try storing them inside a pretty vase. These choices should breathe new life into your décor scheme, keeping things fresh and exciting—without requiring much time or effort.
Craft a Garland Using Fruit Slices
Fruit slice garlands are a holiday favorite, and since fruit slices aren’t really related to any specific holiday, you can go ahead and make one now. Most classic fruit slice garlands are made from orange slices. But you could get a similar look using lemons, limes, or grapefruits.
For the best results, chop up your fruit into thin, even slices. Then, bake the fruit on low heat for several hours.
Stock Up on Festive Dinnerware
You’ll have to serve your food on something, so consider stocking up on dishes that can double as décor. Snag a set of dishes in a striking color or a pretty print. Or score plates that pay homage to fan-favorite Thanksgiving dishes—like stuffing and apple pie.
Use Paint to Transform October’s Pumpkins
Orange pumpkins work just as well during Thanksgiving as they do during Halloween. But if you want to make the holidays feel a little more distinct, consider transforming October’s pumpkins with a little paint. Paint your pumpkins a pretty neutral, like white, beige, or brown. Or use a darker color to paint them a pretty print. (Stripes, polka dots, and florals are all great options.)
Line Your Shelves With Décor
When it comes to décor, many of us focus on our statement-makers. But smaller decorative accents are what really bring a space together. So keep an eye out for spots that are lined with traditional home décor, and see if you can swap out some of those pieces in favor of seasonal items. Sure, a tiny woven pumpkin may not do much on its own. But sneaking a few into every room should leave your entire space feeling more festive.
DIY Some Fabric Pumpkins
If you love a DIY project, consider crafting some fabric pumpkins using sand, candles, and an old flannel shirt. The shirt will form the outside of the pumpkin, while the sand and candles form the filling. Once you’re done with the DIY, you should have a bunch of decorative fabric pumpkins that look and smell great. Display them together on a cake stand, or spread them throughout your home.
Mix and Match Your Candlesticks
Candlesticks can dress up any dining room table. And if you’re willing to mix and match a few different sets, you can leave your tablescape looking more elegant and more dynamic.
Stock up on brass candlesticks in different shapes and sizes, or consider pairing candlesticks made from different materials. Then, keep things streamlined with matching taper candles—or add interest by mixing and matching those, as well.
Make a Bouquet Using Only Magnolia Leaves
There’s a lot to love about magnolia leaves. Dark green on one side and rusty orange on the other, the leaves were practically designed to help you transition from fall to winter. So if you’ve been blessed with a sprawling magnolia tree, consider crafting a bouquet from some of its leaves. The unexpected accent is sure to make a statement, and it should play well with your ever-changing holiday decor scheme.
Line Your Mantel With Pumpkins
If holiday cards haven’t flooded your mailbox just yet, consider lining your mantel with pumpkins. Keep things streamlined by picking pumpkins in the same size, shape, and color. Or mix and match a few different kinds. Then, phase out a pumpkin each time a holiday card arrives.
This easy-to-remember approach should help you make a seamless transition from holiday to holiday.
Fill Glass Jars With Fall Plants
Want to craft a floral arrangement that doesn’t feel terribly obvious? Snag some massive glass jars, and fill them with fabric flowers, autumn leaves, and other dried plants. By displaying them inside the jar, you can craft a kind of decorative terrarium. And since none of the plants need to be kept alive, you can keep the terrariums around as long as you like—without ever having to water them.
Line Your Tablescape With Snacks
Pumpkins, flowers, and garlands make classic additions to any Thanksgiving tablescape. But since Thanksgiving is all about food, why not set the mood with a few decorative snacks? Layer in bunches of grapes, clusters of nuts, and handfuls of fruit. And let these smaller decorative accents bridge the gap between your focal points, so your entire tablescape feels more connected.
Leave Firewood on Display
One natural accent that’s both decorative and functional? Firewood. So if you have an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, consider filling your home with cozy bundles of firewood.
Top Your Coffee Table With Pumpkins
Since Thanksgiving is a food-focused holiday, most Thanksgiving décor lives in the dining room. But if you want your home to feel truly festive, consider adding décor to other high-traffic spaces, like your living room. Even a simple decorative accent—like a pile of pumpkins on your coffee table—can make your home feel more festive, without requiring much effort from you.
Tie Your Napkins in a Knot
When it comes to setting the table, most of the decisions have already been made for you. (Simply look up "how to set a table," and you’ll have your flatware, your glasses, and your dishes in their rightful spots in no time.) But since there are a few different things you can do with your napkins, you’ll have at least one decision to make. You can slide each napkin through a napkin ring, or fold a napkin on top of each plate. Or, you can take the simple—yet statement-making—approach of tying each napkin in a knot.
Fill Vases With Branches and Pinecones
One easy decorative accent that never fails to add texture to a space? A bunch of fallen branches tucked inside a tall vase. Since these branches won’t require water or upkeep, you can leave them out as long as you like. And you can make your display look even more dynamic by filling a few of your shorter vases with pinecones and layering those among the branches.
Drape Wreaths Over Your Serving Platters
If you want to dress up a cheese board or some other serving platter, consider draping a wreath on top of it. Naturally, this works best with servingware that’s round and wreaths that are sparsely decorated. (You want to leave some room for food.) But it’s an easy way to dress up a dessert bar or charcuterie display.
Store Flowers in Bowls Instead of Vases
Tired of the classic putting-flowers-in-a-vase approach? Put your flowers inside a bowl, instead. The surprising choice is sure to earn you some questions and confused looks. But since bowls tend to be pretty short and wide, you can craft floral arrangements that are more asymmetrical and sculptural than what you could make using a vase.
Snag Some Pressed Botanical Candles
There are tons of great fall candles out there. So you can play with size, shape, smell, and color. And in the case of pressed botanical candles, you can play with texture, too. Pressed botanical candles are embedded with natural elements, like flowers, fruit slices, herbs, and more. And they can be a sneaky way to nod to a season’s plants—while adding some texture to your tablescape.
Hang Your Wreaths From Ribbons
If you want to make your wreaths look a little more special, consider hanging them from pretty ribbons. The decorative addition can make your wreaths look even bolder. And it can be a fun way to bring a new color into your decor scheme.
Store Your Centerpiece in a Woven Basket
Centerpieces are often made up of a few different items. And as those items multiply, things can get unwieldy. So consider storing your multi-item centerpiece inside a woven basket or a decorative tray. These stylish storage solutions can keep your centerpiece looking sleek and organized—and they can add yet another layer of texture to your tablescape.
Invite Guests to Share What They’re Thankful For
Get your guests in the Thanksgiving spirit by inviting them to share what they’re grateful for. Sneak a slip of paper and a pen onto every plate, and ask your guests to draft a quick note of gratitude. These notes can stay as private as you want them to be—or they can act as an icebreaker. Take turns sharing what you feel thankful for, and set the tone for the feast that lies ahead.
Bring Your Tablescape Together With a Beaded Garland
One great way to put the finishing touches on your tablescape? Line it with a decorative garland. Once you’ve topped your table with an array of decorative accents—like pumpkins, candles, and flowers—you may need a way to bring them all together. And by tracing each focal point with a sleek beaded garland, you can add some welcome continuity to your spread.
Spread Cheer Throughout the House
When many of us decorate our homes for the holidays, we focus on major rooms—like our living rooms, our dining rooms, and our front porches. But if you want your space to feel truly festive, try adding at least one pop of cheer to every single room in your home.
Place a pumpkin on your nightstand, hang a wreath in your hallway, and place a bundle of wheat by your bathroom sink. It’s in the little moments—when you’re not expecting to be delighted—that a pop of décor can make a big difference.
Farmers' Alamanac Staff. "5 Tips To Keep Your Jack-O-Lantern Fresher Longer". Farmers' Alamanac, 2021.
Boyle, Erin. "DIY: A Dried Fruit Garland For The Holidays". Gardenista, 2021.