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Cityscape Centerpiece

To pump more fun into your Thanksgiving kids' table, make little diners the marshals of their very own parade. This craft was inspired by a clever one created by crafter Brittany Watson Jepsen, the creative genius behind the DIY blog, The House That Lars Built (find her on Instagram @houselarsbuilt). Construct a New York City-scape of cardboard buildings, and animate it with fantastical Japanese paper-balloon floats and wooden cars. Best of all, everyone gets a front-row seat. 

cityscape centerpiece for a kids table

Photography: Johnny Miller

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2020


Set the table with kid-friendly tableware (Xenia Taler Check Side Plates, $40 for 4,; Pottery Barn Kids Riveted Utensils Spoon/Fork Set, in Blush, $8,; Borosil Small Classic Simple Glass Tumblers, $32 for 6, then capture their imaginations with this parade. For more ideas, scroll through our entire collection of Thanksgiving table ideas for kids.


  • Railroad board, 22 by 28 inches (School Smart 6-ply Railroad Board, 22" by 28", in assorted colors, $22 for 25,

  • Pencil

  • Craft knife

  • Cutting mat

  • Ruler

  • Glassine paper (Canson Glassine Art-Paper Roll, 36" wide, $19.30 for 10 yd.,

  • Hot glue gun and supplies, or paper glue

  • Japanese paper balloons (Paper Tree Rokuhichido Washi-Paper Seagull, Chicken, and Shiba-Inu Balloons, $13 each,; Stylishly Party Japanese Paper Pig and Owl Balloons, $5.75 each,; Hiromi Paper Inc. Kamifusen Koala Balloon, $5 for 2,

  • White floral wire (eBoot Floral Wire, 26 gauge, 14", in White, $8 for 100 pieces,

  • Painters' tape (optional)

  • LED tea candles (optional)


  1. Download and print building templates; trace onto railroad board. Using knife and mat, cut outbuildings. Score dotted interior lines, cutting through top but not bottom surface of board.

  2. To make another building, use ruler and pencil to mark a large rectangle on railroad board; its short edge will be the height of finished building. Using knife and mat, cut out rectangle. Score a line all the way down one short side, 1/2 inch from edge. Score remaining area of rectangle into 4 equal panels. Decide on a window pattern (long rectangles or small squares); using knife and mat, cut out a window. Using window piece as a template, cut out more windows.

  3. Cover window openings with glassine paper, using either one panel-size sheet or smaller individual squares cut slightly larger than openings, depending on placement. Adhere edges with glue.

  4. Assemble buildings by folding panels into rectangles along scored lines, so sides of panels with visible glassine-paper edges face in. Glue overlapping 1/2-inch panel to inside to secure; let dry.

  5. Blow up balloons. Slip a wire through each air hole, or attach to balloon with a dot of glue or painters' tape to avoid damage to paper. (After holiday, balloons can be flattened, stored, and reused.)

  6. Place buildings along center of table, setting LED candles inside for a nighttime display, if desired. Attach balloons, gluing each wire to the inside of a building so they hover near tops or just above buildings. Arrange wooden cars on table; to use as place cards, wrap a balloon wire through a car window, write a guest's name on a strip of scrap railroad board, then wrap and glue it around wire.

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