Thanksgiving décor on a dime

Your Thanksgiving table decorations don’t have to be expensive to capture the spirit of the season. The inexpensive paper tablecloth is reminiscent of the crisp feeling of fall and embellished with drawn in metallic placemats. Autumn colored plates and napkins are arranged and pretty paper leaves inscribed with your guests’ names reserve their place at the table. The leaf motif is carried through to the tree in the center from which guests can hang leaves on which they have expressed what they are thankful for. This autumn inspired table is the perfect setting for your Thanksgiving meal.

What you’ll need:

-Brown paper
-Metallic paint pens
-Pretty papers to cut into leaf shapes
-String or ribbon
-Hole punch
-Autumn colored paper plates and napkins
-Centerpiece tree (We purchased ours, on sale, from a local craft store. If you are feeling extra frugal, you can create your own inexpensive tree from a flower pot, floral foam, moss, and some repurposed fallen tree branches and twigs.)

Step 1: Cut enough brown paper to cover the table. You may want to cut an extra length to use under the paper table cloth while you are drawing the placemats so the marker does not bleed through onto the table.

Step 2: Draw a square or rectangular “placemat” in each place setting using a metallic paint pen. Make sure that the square or rectangle is big enough for a plate to fit inside. For our placemats, we traced a 12×12 sheet of card stock onto the tablecloth. Next, embellish the placemat by free handing swirls or other designs.

Step 3: Cut out leaf shapes on autumn colored paper. Write each guest’s name on a leaf with a paint pen. Make sure to cut some extra leaves to sprinkle around the table and for your guests to decorate the centerpiece tree.

Step 4: Set table and place a leaf name card at each guests’ place setting. Whole punch and tie ribbon on leaves so they can easily hang on the tree. Sprinkle leaves around table and place centerpiece tree in the middle of the table.

Step 5: When guests arrive, ask them to write things they are thankful for on the leaves. Hang leaves from tree.

Thrifty Quick Tip:
You can create your own inexpensive centerpiece tree from a flower pot, floral foam, moss, and some repurposed fallen tree branches and twigs.

For more ideas, download our free Thrifty Thanksgiving eBook.


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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