Thanksgiving Table Centerpiece

Present Your Food Beautifully

The perfect Thanksgiving table centerpiece is one that works hand-in-hand with the food. And thankfully (Thanksgiving, thankfully...get it?...never mind), there's more than one path to this decorative coup for the hostess with the mostest.

Simply follow a theme taken from our Thanksgiving menu ideas. Or let the artiste within you shine and choose your own color palette as a starting point.

Cool tip: To save space on the Thanksgiving dinner table that never seems to be big enough, try making your Thanksgiving table decorations act as some of the serving dishes themselves. Not only practical, but creatively memorable as well!

The Traditional Thanksgiving Centerpiece

cornucopia with pumpkins, squash, Indian corn, apples

To tie into your traditional Thanksgiving menu, you need a traditional Thanksgiving table centerpiece. And we all know what that is, right? Come on, we all colored one in grade school: it's none other than the cornucopia, of course.

Whether you buy a ceramic cornucopia at a department store, paint your own ceramic one at a pottery shop, get a wicker one at a craft store, or find a cool wire one at the local kitchen shop, get creative with what you put in it. Remember, even the most traditional of Thanksgiving table centerpieces could use an inventive twist.

  • Go for color and fill with pomegranates.
  • Go for sparkle and fill with gold spray-painted pomegranates.
  • Go natural, but eclectic, and fill with magnolia pods, seed balls, and pinecones.
  • Go for textiles: tear rust, maroon, orange, mustard, and brown patterned cloth into strips and wind into balls of different sizes.
  • Go for the conversation starter and fill with old family photos and Thanksgiving-themed ribbon. The wire-edged kind is the best; you can crinkle it and work photos in and around so it's not so flat. A heads-up: these photos will spend more time out of the cornucopia than in.
  • Go for useful and fill with silverware wrapped in napkins for a buffet.
  • Go for fun and fill with little framed questions for each guest along with silk fall leaves. At the end of the evening, the guests can take the frames home. What's more, the questions—e.g. "What was the worst date you ever went on?"—will have everyone laughing.
  • Go for a diorama and set it up with twigs, leaves, and birds (cardinals and sparrows are a good color combo) from a craft store.
  • Ok, go traditional and fill with fresh apples (all colors), pears, grapes, and gourds. Absolutely nothing wrong with the tried and true.

The Candle Thanksgiving Centerpiece

pillar candles with dried flowers

You know going in this is not your plain old pillar candles with a plastic fall leaf ring around them...shudder the thought.

For this Thanksgiving art project I'm talkin' get yourself to the craft store and buy some tall clear glass containers. Fill them with fruit, leaves, pinecones, and, oh yeah, work some candles in there. Tapers or 3" pillar candles in natural, dark red, yellow, or ochre are good choices.

An added bonus is that natural items like the following work well with your Thanksgiving food ideas:

  • nuts in their shells
  • wood chips
  • tiny pinecones
  • coffee beans
  • cranberries
  • split peas
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
  • any interesting seed or bean

You can also get really fancy and use a combination of items:

  • pomegranates with little dark wooden beads
  • yellow apples with speckled kidney beans and red beans
  • seckel pears (tiny ones) with split peas

For a last suave touch on your Thanksgiving table centerpiece, wrap each container with a piece of orange, rust, or brown ribbon. Tie the ribbon into a bow about 1" from the top of the glass to finish the look beautifully.

The Pumpkin Centerpiece

pumpkins, wine glasses, and tealight

Save some of the pumpkins you didn't carve for Halloween. After all, they say Thanksgiving too. To make them last longer, store them in the garage or out back (but close to the house to deter squirrels from snacking on them).

Now, check out these great pumpkin Thanksgiving table centerpiece ideas:

  • Decorate a pumpkin with rust and brown ribbons, using a tack to secure the ribbons top and bottom. Wrap wire around a pencil to make curlicues, then add them to simulate pumpkin vines. Don't forget the final touch: fabric leaves.
  • Carve a 5" wide hole that is 2" deep in the top. Place a 3" pillar candle in the hole. Scatter autumn-colored leaves and dried flowers around the base of the pumpkin.
  • Using a glue gun, cover three pumpkins in straw flowers—one yellow, one orange, one maroon. For a rectangular table, choose pumpkins all the same size and place them in a row. For a round or square table, create the Thanksgiving table centerpiece from different sized pumpkins arranged artfully in the center.
  • Go Mexican. Place pulled chicken in a hollowed out pumpkin and bake in the oven until done. The juices of the pumpkin add so much to the flavor. Serve in the pumpkin.
  • Fill a really large hollowed-out pumpkin with squash soup. Use the pumpkin as your soup tureen, ladling right from the pumpkin. This is the first course, so save the pumpkin top and put the lid on when you're done. Place the now empty pumpkin on a bed of fabric fall leaves; add apples and pears around it.
  • Hollow out a pumpkin, place a glass bowl inside, and fill it with water. Now use the bowl as a vase, filling it with flowers. Be sure to move beyond just mums...add roses in appropriate fall colors as well as sunflowers. Tip: it's very cute if you do a smaller take on this using little pumpkin-shaped gourds. Add just a flower or two for each place setting.
  • Cover the stems of various sized pumpkins with masking tape. Spray paint the pumpkins in different fall colors. Remove the tape and group them in the center of the table.

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