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Simple Thanksgiving Table Decor Done in 10 Minutes

A quick and simple Thanksgiving table decor setup that’s easy to recreate in 10 minutes using stems cut from the backyard, produce, and basic dinnerware.

I’m over here setting up Thanksgiving table decor while the rest of the world has moved on to Christmas apparently, but I couldn’t resist having one more cozy fall moment.

If there’s ever a choice to cook or decorate for Thanksgiving, I always choose to decorate and leave the cooking to the expert chefs in the family. (And by chefs, I mean my mom and dad… there’s a reason this isn’t a food blog, okay? I burn corn flakes.) 😉

As we were prepping for a fall dinner with friends coming over, I decided to throw together some quick Thanksgiving table decor in under 10 minutes. It’s so inexpensive, easy to recreate, and adaptable to other seasons as well.

navy dining room with antique scenic murals
Rug | Table | Upholstered Chairs | Black Chairs | Chandelier | Mural | Curtains | Curtain Rod | Candle Holders
Wall Color: Romabio Blue Ridge Parkway

Simple Thanksgiving Table Decor

Walk around your yard to scope any leafy stems to cut and bring inside before it’s time to set the table (or even have your kids go outside on a little scavenger hunt so that they can help).

You can gather stems the day before Thanksgiving, if you’d like. Place the cut ends of your stems in a bucket of water until you’re ready to decorate. The beauty is that doing this and relying on your natural surroundings creates a unique table every time!

(You could even take it a step further by preserving leaves for Christmas if you wanted to.)

simple Thanksgiving table decor using candles, cut stems from the yard, and pears from the grocery store

What You’ll Need – The Simple Thanksgiving Centerpiece Formula

  • Leafy stems or branches cut from bushes or trees in the yard (You can use all kinds of different varieties, depending on what you have available near you. I cut some stems from a ruby Loropetalum shrub in our yard. Take a walk around your yard with some pruning shears and see what catches your eye.)
  • Bush berry clusters cut from the yard (Warning: Be aware that some berries can be poisonous, so do not add berries to your table, especially with children present, unless you know exactly what berries they are and that they are safe.)
  • A fruit or vegetable type from the produce aisle (I used 8 Bosc pears from my grocery store. Mini pumpkins, apples, artichokes, gourds, figs, or artichokes would work beautifully too.)
  • Taper candle holders (I love these classic gold candle holders. You could use any size, shape, or color of candle holder though. You could even mix and match thrifted candle holders, if you have them.)
  • Table runner (This simple linen striped runner is my favorite and works well year-round.)
  • Napkins (I’ve had these striped napkins for years and they work with any table scheme.)
  • Large leaves, rinsed with vegetable wash (I cut a few leaves from our magnolia tree.)
  • Metallic permanent marker (I had this silver Sharpie on hand.)
  • Whatever dishes you have on hand (You can never go wrong with just simple, basic white, but I used this exposed clay dinnerware I had.)
simple Thanksgiving table decor using candles, cut stems from the yard, and pears from the grocery store

How to Recreate

1. Table Runner

Start by rolling out the table runner, making sure it’s centered.

2. Place Candle Holders

Place your candle holders evenly apart, staggering heights. They don’t have to be perfect.

3. Scatter Cut Stems

Place the leafy stems you cut previously all around the candle holders. Lay them in different directions. There’s no perfect “right” way to do it. If it looks a bit messy, that just adds to the rustic charm.

simple Thanksgiving centerpiece idea : candles, stems from the backyard, and pears

4. Position the Fruit/Vegetables

Stagger and space out your fruit or vegetable of choice like you did with the candle holders. It doesn’t have to be in any particular position. Lay some on their sides going in different directions, place a few sticking straight up, the less uniform the better.

5. Disperse the Berry Clusters

Nestle the berry clusters (if you’re using some) in any spaces between the fruit on top of the leaves.

simple Thanksgiving centerpiece idea : candles, stems from the backyard, and pears

6. Set the Table

Set the table with plates, bowls, drinking glasses, and flatware as you’d like. Fold napkins on the plate or in the bowl.

7. Make Place Cards from Large Leaves

We’re not huge place card people, and these are more to be extra fancy and fun if you like to do them. After your large leaves are washed and dried, write your guests’ names in metallic permanent marker on the large leaves and place on the napkins.

It’s totally free and a sweet way to incorporate a bit of nature.

magnolia leaf place card holder as cheap Thanksgiving table decor

That’s it! Cutting the leaves from the yard was the lengthiest part of the process and that took about 15 minutes the day before.

I literally threw this Thanksgiving table decor together from start to finish in under 10 minutes.

Thanksgiving centerpiece - fresh cut leaves, pears, and candles

It’s such a simple formula that you can change up using whatever happens to be growing in your yard or what is in season. And it really doesn’t cost much at all to make.

Plus, you don’t end up with this gigantic centerpiece where people can’t even see each other across the table. It’s just practical and it works.

Thanksgiving decor in the dining room with candles, navy walls, and leaves
Rug | Table | Upholstered Chairs | Black Chairs | Chandelier | Mural | Curtains | Curtain Rod | Candle Holders | Buffet | Lamps
Wall Color: Romabio Blue Ridge Parkway

This year, we have 14 people, including our family of 4, staying at our house for Thanksgiving, so our table setup will need to be much bigger than just what we have in our dining room this year.

Maybe I’ll set up this same Thanksgiving table decor on a larger scale using folding tables under our pergola cabana in the backyard? That might be fun!

Thanksgiving centerpiece - fresh cut leaves, pears, and candles

We’re just thankful we have a dining room that is intact again. This space has come such a long way these last couple of months.

You can see our full dining room makeover process here.

Thanksgiving centerpiece - fresh cut leaves, pears, and candles

Soon we’ll be hauling in a Christmas tree to set up in that far corner. I cannot wait to see how those murals look with the twinkle lights everywhere!

But right now I’m just happy with candlelight, fall leaves, and a chance to gather again. I’ve missed this.

Thanksgiving decor in the dining room

Do you have any simple Thanksgiving decorating around the house you like adding to the mix? Or any Thanksgiving table decor traditions? I’d love to hear all about them!

You can see more Thanksgiving decor ideas here too.


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