Thanksgiving Table Decor

Thanksgiving Table Decor: 8 Creative and Kid-Friendly Ideas

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, the to-do list gets longer and longer. If you’re like me, planning for Thanksgiving table decor starts off as an exciting process, spending hours pinning beautiful photos of Thanksgiving tables on Pinterest, only to find myself scrambling at the last minute to get everything in order. 

Over the years, I’ve ditched the traditional table-setting “rules” and discovered my own easy, budget-friendly, kid-friendly (but also beautiful!) table-setting tips. You don’t need to copy the pros or feel overwhelmed! Here are some simple table-setting tips that will elevate the day but still keep things practical and affordable.

1) Try kid-friendly paper placemats for easy clean-up.

Notepad placemats usually come in a variety of sizes, with 11×14 being the most popular, and in sets of 25+. They rip right off like a notepad and come in fun colors and designs. Paper notepad placemats let you switch up your table setting each holiday and are much more cost efficient. Plus, easy cleanup and less laundry!

2) Opt for silk flowers instead of real flowers. 

While real flowers are beautiful, they don’t last long and can be pricey around the holidays. Begin collecting silk flowers as you see deals at the local craft shops and by Thanksgiving you’ll have a whole stash! Or, head down to Indigo Hippo, an art supply craft shop in OTR, where you can find beautiful fake flowers at a great price. Another plus of using silk flowers is you can reuse them after your Thanksgiving dinner.  I like to put mine in my holiday wreath on my front door for an extra touch!

Thanksgiving table decor

3) Use mini decor items.  

Large vases, candles, and other decor items crowd a table, making it hard for guests to interact and taking up too much space, causing your beautiful dishes to be overlooked.  Unless you have a giant dining room table, large decor items are going to overpower the typical table size. Consider mini decor items, such as small succulents, tiny pumpkins, or tea candles and place one at each table setting rather than having one large decor item in the middle of the table. 

4) Use food dishes as Thanksgiving table decor.

If you’re cooking for a large group, which many people do on Thanksgiving, you’re probably using your largest dishes. Large dishes can overpower the table.  Instead, consider keeping the large dishes off of the table and letting people serve themselves then use smaller dishes on your table for “seconds”.  You won’t need as many larger dishes since not everyone will want seconds.  Refill the smaller dishes as needed. This also give you the opportunity to find small, unique bowls that won’t take over the whole table!

5) Scrap the fancy name cards and consider conversation starters instead.  

It seems as if every table setting image has beautiful calligraphy handwriting.  While calligraphy is fun to look at, it makes for a more formal setting. Consider name cards with fun conversation starters, such as “Most likely to” or “I’m thankful for you because…”.

6) Don’t be afraid to mix and match. 

Doesn’t it always seem you’re one plate or bowl short of a perfect table setting? Stop worrying about everything matching and instead celebrate mis-matching for your Thanksgiving table decor! Stay within the same color palette, but choose different patterns and designs for your plates and bowls. A quick stop at a local thrift store or discount home store, such as Home Goods, can help turn your table into a fun, colorful space. 

Thanksgiving table decor

7) Layer or separate your table. 

A table is only so big and putting every item on the table starts to get difficult.  Suddenly, you find yourself not having enough room for napkins, forks, water glasses – necessary items! Instead, find ways to layer or separate your table. Place napkins on plates.  Stack small and large plates. Have a wine station for those who want wine instead of placing a wine glass at each setting. Simplify your Thanksgiving table decor while adding dimension and space. 

8) Use what you have in your home. 

Before you go out and spend money for your table setting, shop in your home home! You’d be surprised what you can find in closets, holiday decor boxes, and cabinets. Those plastic pumpkins you used for Halloween? Add in some silk flowers and voila  – they are now a Thanksgiving table decor!