Thanksgiving Day is that time of the year when you truly want to impress your guests with both food and decorations.

But before you embark on the cooking journey – which always takes longer than anticipated for most of us – make sure you’ve crossed home decorating for Thanksgiving off your to-do list.

We’ve curated a list of easy and budget-friendly DIY Thanksgiving decorations you can make ahead of time so you can set a lovely backdrop for your family celebrations.

1. String lights and leaves

Take a nature walk and collect colorful autumn leaves in a variety of shades and shapes. Take them home, dry them well with paper towels and press them under something heavy, like a stack of books, for a couple of days. Get some simple string lights and install them where they will have the most impact: along the banister, on one of the living room walls, or in the area where you’ll be setting up the table.

Once the string lights are in place, take the leaves and, using a little bit of tape, stick one leaf on top of each light. It will create a magical, warm ambiance, and the leaves will cast all sorts of interesting shadows throughout the room.

2. Chestnuts and acorns décor

acorns and chestnuts wreath

The best part about DIY Thanksgiving decorations is that they involve a lot of outdoor activities, like walks in the park and hikes through the woods. For this project, you need to get to a place with chestnut and oak trees, which shouldn’t be that hard, and gather a bunch of their quintessentially autumnal fruits – chestnuts and acorns.

The rest is pretty straightforward – simply insert the chestnuts and the acorns alternatively on a piece of string, or stick them to a wreath. If you want a touch of glamour, you can spray them with metallic paint in various shades.

3. Gourd candle holders

The cute little gourds make for exquisite candle holders – use them on your dinner table to create a warm and cozy atmosphere. Pick a variety of gourds, of all shapes and colors, cut around the stem and scoop out the seeds and the pulp. Fit tea light candles inside the cavity you created, and make sure that the gourds sit up straight – if needed, cut around their base to create a flat surface and to ensure no accidents will occur.

4. Edible centerpiece

Every host makes plans for a memorable centerpiece, but, if you really want your guests to remember yours for years to come, prepare an edible one. The only downside is that you can’t do it ahead of time, because it involves food. You need to find an hour or so on the morning of Thanksgiving Day to put it together. You will require a really large pumpkin, a lot or wooden skewers, and bite-size sweet things to eat – chocolate truffles, dried fruits, marshmallows, fresh fruit that’s in season (like plums and figs) and so on.

Arrange the food on the skewers, trying to make it look as artistic as possible. Then, stick the other end of the skewers into the pumpkin that acts as a base for your centerpiece. Pumpkin skin is quite thick, so you might need to pierce it a little bit with a sharp knife before trying to insert the skewers.

5. The thankful tree

With all the preparations, the food and the stress that comes along Thanksgiving, we sometimes tend to forget what the celebration is all about. Preparing a Thankful Tree is a nice way to put your guests, and yourself, in the holiday spirit. Find a pretty tree branch with plenty of twigs. You can use it as is or spray paint it in your favorite color. Once it’s done, find a nice, stable vase to display it in.

Get some thick sheets of paper and cut out different shapes – leaves, hearts, circles, flowers, or whatever else you prefer. Attach a length of string to each piece of paper and place them and some pens near the Thankful Tree. As your guests arrive, ask them to write things they are thankful for on the notes and to hang them on the tree.

6. Kraft paper tablecloth for children

Long meals tend to be boring for children, which means the adults won’t have the best of times either. You can prevent all that by giving the little ones something fun to do. One cool idea is to group all the children at one side of the table and to cover the tablecloth in that area with a large piece of kraft paper. Supply plenty of crayons and let them savor the thrill of being able to draw on the table.

7. Maize vase centerpiece

Bring some rustic charm to your Thanksgiving dinner table by decorating it with a centerpiece that puts maize in the spotlight. Get some colorful corn cobs. There are plenty of spectacular shades besides the classic yellow: red, white, blue, green, black and even pink.  Try to find ones that are somewhat equal in height and diameter, and glue them together to form a cylinder of sorts – your maize vase. Fill this with a variety of dried flowers and twigs with leaves.

8. Pinecone place holders

Gather some pinecones and decorate them as you see fit – with a little bit of glitter, for example. Then, cut some nice shapes out of paper and decorate them as well, to fit the pinecones. Write the name of each guest on one of the papers and attach the papers to a pine cone, to create a cute, perfect-for-the-season placeholder on your table.

9. Corn husk wreath chair decorations

Corn husks are one of the staple decorations of the season. Use them to create small wreaths that will adorn your chairs. You need corn husks, obviously, plus some wire shaped into circles and a glue gun. Cut the base of the husks to straighten them out, then twist each husk around the wire and apply the glue to keep it there. Repeat the process until the wreath is completed. Dipping the tips of the husks in paint will make them really stand out. Hang them on the backs of the dinner table chairs.

10. Colorful walnuts jars

Find some small and pretty Mason jars, a lot of walnuts, and spray paint in different colors. Lay the walnuts on sheets of paper, spray them with paint on all sides and allow the paint to dry for a few hours. Then, arrange the colorful walnuts in the jars, alternating the colors. Once the jars are filled, tie a nice burlap bow around the neck of each one and place them around your living room.

All that’s left to do now is to sit around your dinner table with family and friends and enjoy a delicious meal in your exquisitely decorated home.

P.S.: Once you’re done celebrating, make sure you find proper storage for your decorations until next year when you can enjoy them again.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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