10 Thanksgiving Centerpieces Befitting the Harvest Feast
The Thanksgiving table is always set with finesse to include elegant dinnerware, artfully folded napkins, and a personal touch in the place card to guide each guest to their place setting. At the center of the table is the centerpiece. For Thanksgiving, a centerpiece can be foraged from outdoor materials—fallen leaves, seasonal flowers, or gourds and pumpkins (many of which are abundant at this time of year). Use our printable templates and clip-art, as well our step-by-step tutorials, to create something that will impress your guests from the moment they step into the dining room.
It's simple: Try crafting a garland of magnolia leaves and crisp apples that acts as a runner along the table's length. You could also light a few well-placed lanterns trimmed in soft leather for a cozy feel. Better yet, make your own gourd gobblers—these are bound to be a hit with young guests at the children's table. Of course, the classic icon of the holiday is the cornucopia. This horn of plenty can be spray-painted in a pretty metallic hue (ideally, silver or gold) lined with linen fabric, and filled to the brim with harvest fruits and vegetables of your preference. It's all about rethinking your notion of the Thanksgiving centerpiece, taking your cues (and a few acorns!) from autumn woods and meadows.
The result: displays that celebrate the season, not just the day, and go wherever in the house they'll be most appreciated. To amp up the holiday cheer at your own Thanksgiving gathering, make one (or more!) of the ideas ahead.
Lamp Chimneys Centerpiece
Many people say grace at dinner, but you'll feel thankful well before if you prep the table with this easy yet eye-catching, wilt-proof centerpiece. Simply place candles on small glass dishes and cover them with curvy lamp chimneys (which you can find for dollars at hardware or antiques stores). Fill in spare spaces with fruit and foliage, and when guests arrive, light the wicks and bask in the glow.
Dried Flowers Centerpiece
Bleached or dyed dried botanicals offer all the texture and personality of live foliage, with the bonus of unexpected hues. These centerpieces can reach skyward without blocking anyone's view, thanks to grasses like bunny tail and timothy that are tall, thin, and airy enough for conversation to flow right through.
Wow dinner guests with a bold color-blocked table this Thanksgiving. Instead of traditional fall colors, we chose soft pink, deep navy, and metallic gold to create a display that's equally elegant and in step with the season. For bud vases, pour in enough craft paint to coat entire inner surface of vase when swirled; pour out excess. let dry, upside down, on a paper towel, two days. For candleholders, spray-paint holders in similar colors to the candles in a well-ventilated room. Let dry, 15 minutes; spray again. Let dry completely before using. For pumpkins, tape off stems with painters' tape. In a well-ventilated room, spray-paint pumpkins and let dry for 15 minutes, then spray again. Let dry completely before displaying.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Family Friendly Multi-Surface Pearl Acrylic Craft Paint, in Deep Sea and Porcelain Doll, $4.19, michaels.com. Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Metallic Acrylic Craft Paint, in Gold, $3.19 , michaels.com. Creative Candles Taper Candles, in Navy Blue, Petal Pink, and Metallic Gold, 12", $14 for 2, creativecandles.com. Montana Gold Spray Paint,
Leather-Trimmed Lantern Centerpiece
To fill your dining room with golden light, group leather-trimmed lanterns holding beeswax pillars. A trio of varied heights is handsome enough to stand in for a flower arrangement, and comes together in minutes from basic materials: leather strips, brass fasteners, and glass hurricanes.
Show Now: Tandy Leather Lightweight Cowhide Leather Strips, 3/4-inch and 1-inch, from $15 for 50 inches, tandyleather.com. Staples Gold Round-Head Fasteners, 3⁄8-inch, $2.50 for 100, staples.com. Jamali Garden Clear-Glass Cylinder Vases, 6" by 8" and 8" by 10", from $10 each, jamaligarden.com.
Woven Lanterns Centerpiece
Candlelight flickers through the loose weave of these hurricane lanterns. They’re made from place mats that we simply rolled into tubes and stitched along the seams, then positioned over pillar candles (in tall glass holders, for safety).
Craft a freeform garland (no wires required!) from fruits, leaves, and dried flowers. To keep the garland fluid and casual, we gently snaked it down the table, rather than setting it down in a straight, rigid fashion. First, make the base: Lay down magnolia leaves, brown-side up. Be sure to leave space for any platters or dishes you plan to use on the table. Tuck in dried flowers, like amaranth, beneath leaves. Layer fruit (such as crab apples and pomegranates) down the center. Garnish with chestnuts, berries, and small autumn foliage on top. (For a different look, flip over the magnolia leaves to reveal glossy green.)
Shop Now: Williams Sonoma Magnolia Branches, $17, williams-sonoma.com.
Gourd Gobblers Centerpiece
Like a 3-D version of the classic handprint turkey, these charming birds are great to make with the kids. The fat tear shape of a 'Hubbard' squash perfectly mimics a turkey's body (but any squash or gourd with a similar profile will work); just add a cornhusk head and tail feathers.
Download and print our turkey template. Using the template, cut feathers, head, and wattle from cornhusks. Dye wattle (and tips of feathers if you like) in a small cup of water with four or five drops of food coloring. Use a screw punch and brown paper to create dots for the eyes, and glue them onto the head. When the dye is dry, use hot-glue gun to adhere feathers together in a fan shape, then secure them to bottom of the gourd. Glue together edges of the neck and head, leaving the bottom and back open. Glue wattle to the front of the neck. Open the bottom of the neck, and fit it over stem of gourd; glue in place.
Gilded Leaves Centerpiece
With a little paint, fallen leaves become a rustic, elegant centerpiece. Find leaves and bare branches and make an arrangement. (There's no need to press the leaves; the beauty is in their natural form.) Spray the leaves all over with gold paint; let dry. Hot-glue them to the branches, then arrange in a vase.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Metallic Finish Spray Paint & Primer, in Yellow Gold, $8, michaels.com.
Glittered Corn Centerpiece
A few organic elements, enlivened with a bit of gilding, evoke fall's abundance. To make this eye-catching centerpiece, we turned a glass compote into a horn of plenty with glittering Indian corn and squash. To begin, pick some ears of dried corn to glitter fully and other ears to do more sparingly, so your arrangement doesn't go overboard. For the former, coat fully with craft glue and glitter. For the latter, use a foam brush to lightly dab some kernels with craft glue, then apply glitter. To soften husks so you can shape the ears when you arrange them, steam over a kettle of boiling water once the glitter has set. For the gourds, simply cover the stem with craft glue and glitter; they need nothing more to shine. After they've dried, arrange both the gourds and the ears of corn in the glass compote for an elegant and festive autumn display.
Shop Now: Dried Décor Decorative Indian Corn, $10 for 3, drieddecor.com. Amish Gourds Mini Dipper Gourd, $1.89, amishgourds.com. Martha Stewart Super Fine Glitter, in Florentine Gold, $7, michaels.com.
A basic cornucopia basket gets a glamorous makeover, thanks to sparkly paint and fabric. Fruits and vegetables in rich shades of ruby and amethyst spill out like jewels. For a soft shine, brush the produce with an edible petal dust, a finish available at baking supply stores.
Shop Now: Brooke's Repurpose Footed Wicker Cornucopia, $7, etsy.com. Martha Stewart Metallic Finish Spray Paint & Primer, in Sterling, $8, michaels.com. Pottery Barn Basketweave Fabric, in Oatmeal, $30 per yd., potterybarn.com.