When you hear the word Thanksgiving, you probably think of food: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, maybe veggies like green beans and collard greens. Food is an important part of most holidays—and most traditions, for that matter. But food isn’t the only thing that can make your Thanksgiving celebration cozy and inviting. Ambiance turns your meal into an experience, and you can improve your ambiance with festive decor, like Thanksgiving centerpieces.
Because Thanksgiving is so food-oriented, your dinner table is the hub for the day. Friends and family will eat, drink, laugh, and share stories around it. So it only makes sense to decorate the main attraction! There are many different ways to create Thanksgiving centerpieces, and the shape of your table is a big factor. For example, if you have a long table, you can create a centerpiece garland that trails the length of the furniture. On the other hand, small or round tables benefit from smaller items, like baskets or a set of candles.
No matter your table size or shape, any combination of these five elements is sure to result in a breathtaking arrangement. Instead of putting out a few candles or a bouquet of flowers, weave some leaves and branches around the candle holders. Or place your flowers on a large tray with mini gourds and pumpkins. Variety is the spice of life, your menu, and your Thanksgiving centerpieces!
There are two ways to pick the perfect centerpiece flowers: by color or by type. Thanksgiving is still technically during fall, even if those of us in Maine might already have snow in our yards! Despite the weather, the time of year still calls for deep purples, golden yellows, and warm oranges. When you’re choosing flowers for the centerpiece, consider whether the colors will match the season or clash with it.
You can also choose your flowers based on the type. Black calla lilies are in season in November and have a deep, plum-like purple to them. But you can also find them in reds and oranges for the season. Dahlias are also in season and come in a variety of festive colors—from yellow to orange and purple. And even though sunflower season ends in October, you can still get away with a sunflower-themed centerpiece. (Although you may have to buy artificial ones!)
No matter what you’re planning, candles always make for stunning centerpieces. And your Thanksgiving centerpieces are no exception! Candles come in every shape, size, and color, which means you can find the perfect one for your Thanksgiving table. Along with the candles, you’ll need some type of jar or holder—which is another opportunity to get festive. For example, you can opt for white candles with fall-inspired glass holders. Or you can purchase candle holders in all different colors—one red, one orange, one yellow—and place them around the table.
Candles can also be nestled in bunches of flowers or in between gourds and branches. Just make sure they’re protected from anything flammable if you plan on lighting them! And if you do plan on lighting them, avoid scented candles. Your home will already smell like turkey and mashed potatoes and greens, and you don’t need the artificial smell in the mix, too.
Pumpkins & Gourds
Chances are you’re using pumpkin in your baking. Why not use it in your decorating as well? Just like candles, pumpkins can be placed among flowers, leaves, and branches. And they come in all shapes and sizes, too! Of course, we don’t recommend putting large orange pumpkins on your dinner table. But incorporating a variety of mini pumpkins and gourds adds an almost rustic feel to your celebration.
On the other hand, if you want a chic holiday affair, use white pumpkins. White pumpkins will contrast beautifully with the rich colors of fall, and they’ll complement the subtle greens from the season. Whether you’re aiming for monochromatic Thanksgiving centerpieces or you’re giving a nod to the impending winter, white pumpkins are your answer.
Leaves & Branches
No centerpiece is complete without bringing a little bit of the outside in. For fall, this means leaves and branches. Colorful red, orange, and yellow leaves will match your similarly colored candle holders and the flowers you picked out. You can keep the leaves on the branches as in-season garland, or you can decorate with individual leaves. However you choose to display your leaves, we do recommend artificial ones, so they don’t crumble and make a mess. Or worse—get into the food!
If you choose branches, they can still have leaves on them. Or you can incorporate pieces of evergreen for yet another nod to the coming winter months, or even for a splash of green. If you have fresh evergreen branches, you can use them, as they will take a few days to dry up and make a mess. Just don’t forget to clean them up before that happens.
Like flowers, fruit is perfect for year-round decorating. So when you’re planning your Thanksgiving centerpieces, all you have to do is choose seasonal fruit. An easy way to choose your centerpiece fruit is to match the fruits you’re cooking and baking with. Making apple or key lime pie? Cranberry sauce? Fig stuffing? All of those fruits are in season during the late fall, and they’d all be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.
You can decorate with trays and baskets overflowing with flowers, fruit, and sprigs of evergreen. But you can also make your centerpiece edible! An edible centerpiece is the perfect low-waste decoration. Plus, it can either give guests something to snack on before the main course—or give them something to look forward to for dessert.
No matter what type of Thanksgiving celebration you’re planning, a centerpiece is at the center of your ambiance. It can add an earthy, homey feel to your meal or it can elevate it to a chic affair based on the colors and components that you choose. Just be sure to set up the centerpieces the day before! Day-of cooking takes a lot of time and energy, and a centerpieces can easily be completed in advance.
Which of these items would you use in a Thanksgiving centerpiece? What colors would you choose?