Thanksgiving provides us with a cornucopia of ideas for decorating a table…including cornucopias. The flowers, plants, decorative elements — even foods! — of the season offer limitless possibilities when it comes to sprucing up your tabletop and creating a veritable work of art to show off to your guests when they sit down for the big meal.
A beautifully designed table, with its layering of colors and textures, along with personal touches play a part in the delight and ambiance of this special occasion. Thanksgiving, after all, is as much about the feeling that the holiday evokes as it is about the food we eat or the TV programming we consume.
To offer you some inspiration for setting just the right mood for your gathering this year, here are a few easy, creative, and inexpensive Thanksgiving centerpiece ideas to get you started on your tablescape art.
Thanksgiving centerpiece idea No. 1: Fresh flower wreath centerpiece
Wreaths are one of my favorite design styles for a more traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece. Having the center of the wreath open provides endless opportunities for additional personalization. Here, I used a beautiful amber Fenton glass vase as a candleholder; the amber glow is the perfect complement to the rich hues of the seasonal flowers in the wreath.
When creating a fresh floral wreath, I like to use flowers that air dry nicely. Using flowers like the varieties featured in this photo — roses, hydrangea, celosia, succulents, and more — can extend the life of your centerpiece by weeks.
Some varieties of hydrangeas dry better than others. The variety that dries the best, and is featured in the wreath above, is known as an “antique hydrangea.” It is typically soft moss green with burgundy edging, and works beautifully with all the rich colors of autumn.
This wreath is all about the vibrant and saturated hues of the season. To create the perfect backdrop for this intensity, I kept everything else very neutral. A burlap table runner on a natural wood farm table and wooden chargers holding amber depression glass plates let this centerpiece take center stage.
How to make a flower wreath centerpiece
Regardless of your choice of flowers and color combinations, the step-by-step process of constructing the wreath is consistent. Various types and sizes of wreath forms are available. The one I used here has a papier-mâché backing, so I placed it on a charger plate after soaking it to protect my surface.
1. Prepare the floral foam
Thoroughly soak the floral foam wreath base.
2. Add your greens
Start with a base of foliage, inserting short pieces around the outside of the form, adding additional sprigs on the inside rim as well as the top. Your foam does not have to be completely covered at this point; you can always go back and fill in any empty spaces after you add the flowers and dried accents.
3. Add your flowers
Start with your largest flower. Each hydrangea bloom has multiple stems of flower clusters. Because you are cutting the stems so short and inserting them directly into wet floral foam, you can cut these laterals from the main stem and use them as separate insertions. This allows you to bring the color and texture of the hydrangea all the way around the wreath without overpowering the other flowers.
Here, I used only two hydrangeas, but I have six separate insertions that already make my wreath nice and full.
4. Add your décor
Next, I added the dried pods and burlap roses. These are both substantial and add fullness, especially as the fresh flowers begin to dry. Flowers will lose their vibrant color and shrink in size during the drying process.
5. Fill in any empty spaces
Fill in the spaces with the rest of the floral that you have chosen, cutting as many short stem laterals as possible.
6. Add your finishing touches
I used rose hips to add dimension to the wreath. To do this, cut the woody stem of the rose hips a little longer than you cut the stems of the flowers. Then, insert the bottom of the stem between the flowers until it is secure in the foam and the berries are positioned just above the flowers.
7. Add colored leaves
Adding the fall leaves, with their touch of gold and rust, is just what this wreath needs to tie it all together. Now, you’ve got a perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table, and all season long!
Keep it green and lean
Plants are a great option for tabletop decorating. They are relatively inexpensive and, if you use seasonal varieties, last for weeks. These millet plants I picked up at Smile Farms are a bit taller than normal for a centerpiece, but they still work. I find that everything gets moved around once the food starts getting placed on the table anyway.
Having small, unexpected accents, such as the green apple candles and fresh cut succulents, on each plate can complete your look and keep your table decorated and festive even after all the food has been served.
Thanksgiving centerpiece idea No. 2: DIY garden trug centerpiece
This rustic-looking table accent brings in the fruits (and vegetables!) that Mother Earth provides us this time of year. It’s one of those Thanksgiving centerpiece ideas that really adds a touch of nature to the look and presentation of your dining area when you’re entertaining during the fall.
First, you want to start with the foundation. I used a wooden garden trug, but you can employ any kind of gathering-style container, such as a rectangle- or oblong-shaped wicker basket.
Choose materials to nestle into the container that complement your color scheme and vary in shape and texture. Including seasonal elements, such as gourds and bittersweet branches, adds a festive holiday feeling.
Use pieces of floral foam as build-ups to give your display varying heights, and add a few stems of fresh flowers as well. To keep your flowers fresher longer, put a piece of wet floral foam in a small plastic container, or just add water to a small plastic cup, place it in the trug, and then add the flowers.
My favorite part of this design is the addition of the bittersweet branches. These seasonal berry branches do not have to be in water — they dry nicely and, with minimal handling, will hold the berries for weeks.
Thanksgiving centerpiece idea No. 3: Foraged bouquet centerpieces
This final idea couldn’t be easier — it just requites you to do a little foraging in your garden (or your neighbor’s)! I live at the beach, so my garden is full of ornamental beach grasses and millet…and turning leaves are everywhere! You know I love flowers, but this time of year offers a plethora of branches, berries, and grasses that are beautiful in their own right.
Keep it simple and natural by adding an LED votive candle to the center of a fresh artichoke and placing a single stem of millet and sprig fall foliage on each plate.