Originally published: 11/12/2019
What makes a house a home?
The answer is probably a lot of things. Knowing where the light switches are, your favorite art on the walls, the memories of happy and sad times. But more than anything, I think that a home is made through relationships — either relationships created and strengthened within the home, or, the welcome that guests find there.
I stumbled across a quote recently that perfectly summed up the connection between those relationships and our homes:
“Relationships depend on communication. But this communication takes time. It is also helped by atmosphere, and the atmosphere is helped by the “things’ which are arranged with love and with an expression of creativity in a visible form.” —Edith Schaeffer
And actually, Edith wrote, sometimes a centerpiece or tablescape can be one of those creative things that draws us closer together.
“There is a ‘togetherness’ at the table which comes into focus when all eyes are drawn to the centre,” she wrote. “There is a tendency to talk about the beauty seen there, or at least be affected by it. Some form of centerpiece, and some candlelight (if it is evening, a rainy day or foggy, then candlelight is the only good substitute for sunshine!) are invaluable in drawing a table full of people together to share food, thoughts ideas and problems.”
This got me thinking. In preparation for Thanksgiving this year…maybe I should put a little more effort into my table decor, instead of leaving it as an afterthought.
Yes, we all know that the traditional Thanksgiving menu has a lot of moving parts, so we tend to focus a lot on that — especially for those of us with young children and therefore limited time.
But Thanksgiving isn’t REALLY about the food itself—it’s about togetherness. Talking together. Sharing thoughts. Memories. It’s a day specifically set-aside for giving thanks with family and friends—communicating.
“There is a ‘togetherness’ at the table which comes into focus when all eyes are drawn to the centre.” —Edith Schaeffer
Sharing a special meal together adds to the celebration and encourages the togetherness. But as Edith points out, so does what’s on your table.
In light of this, I decided I was going to step up my Thanksgiving tablescape this year. Here’s what I’m planning to do with a $50 budget and about 20 minutes.
This tablescape is grounded in neutral colors with natural accents, like live eucalyptus and mini-pumpkins. The best thing about working with neutral colors as your base? You can use easily use the pieces for different seasons.
I’ve intentionally tried to keep things #minimal (for my own sanity!), and aimed to create something that’s simple, elegant, and budget-friendly.
Here are the 5 elements of my 20-minute Thanksgiving tablescape:
Element 01. Table Linens
Any great tablescape starts with a base—a tablecloth and/or runner. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make a dining room feel more put-together. The texture of cloth looks elegant, and contributes to the overall feeling of warmth and coziness.
If you don’t have a white tablecloth, you could also consider other muted tones like beige, off-white, or gray.
I used this simple, white tablecloth from Target (that I already owned) as my base, and added an oatmeal-colored runner from Home Goods for $9.99. (I recommend checking here for table linens, they always have great deals!) They also wash well, and would work as a base for Christmas, Easter, and other seasons too.
Element 02. Gourds or mini pumpkins
I’ve incorporated a few of these seasonal pieces into this tablescape because, after all, what makes you think of fall more than a pumpkin?! I chose a couple white pumpkins in this centerpiece to keep with the neutral theme, but green gourds would also suit the color scheme as well. Very affordable, and definitely season-appropriate.
If you don’t have white pumpkins, but you do have orange, you could consider spray painting your pumpkins!
Element 03. Candles
Candles are one of the easiest and most effective ways to set a warm and inviting mood. I tend to prefer pillar candles because they have a more stable base than candlesticks, so they’re less likely to topple with kids around.
When it comes to arranging your candles, this is your chance to get creative! Play around with different sizes and heights—you’ll need less or more depending on the size of your table. Here I’ve used six different sizes of pillar candles that cost me about $20 total. You can also consider incorporating some small votives too.
Here’s a second candle arrangement, involving fewer pillars, and a couple of votives instead—this cost a little less, and looks just as beautiful!
Element 04. Fresh greenery
Adding some branches of live eucalyptus gives this tablescape some color, life, and pulls it all together.
I’ve scattered the branches across the center of the table, and tucked them in amongst the candles. You can find affordable arrangement fillers at most grocery stores for about $5.
Element 05. DIY napkin rings
The napkins are part of the finishing touch! The white cotton napkins I’m using were about $1 each from Home Goods, and they come in packages of various sizes, from 4-12. I folded the napkins in half, wrapped them in twine, and tucked in a small piece of eucalyptus.
You can find twine on Amazon or at a craft store like Michaels for just a few dollars. I love that twine is another natural material, and it adds a little texture to the place setting.
Just for fun: a letterboard
While this isn’t part of a tablescape, it’s a great way to add some festivity to your Thanksgiving decor. You can find this letterboard at Walmart for $6.95, and it can be reused it for any occasion or season (including your kids practicing spelling).
Here are a few other seasonal sayings that would be so cute on a letterboard:
- Give thanks with a grateful heart
- Eat, Drink And Be Thankful
- Leaves are falling, autumn is calling.
- In Everything, Give Thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
- Harvest Blessings
- It’s Not Happy People Who Are Thankful,
It’s Thankful People Who are Happy.
Whatever you do to decorate your table for Thanksgiving this year, just have fun with it! Don’t focus on whether it looks “perfect” or not. Whatever you decide—if you’re creating it with purpose, intention, and love—will draw your loved ones closer together.
So invite those friends over, create the memories, and share a meal together, gathered ‘round your table.