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Easy Thanksgiving decorating tips to make your table more festive

Alicia is a freelance writer who covers everything from pets to cocktails, with cocktails being her favorite. Her loves in life include cheap wine, overpriced lattes, and avoiding exercise at all costs, all while trying to stay slim. She...

Make your table look as good as the turkey

After all the work you put in to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, you'll want your table to be worthy of hosting the delectable dishes. These easy and inexpensive tips will get your table looking festive in no time.

Thanksgiving decorating ideas, placesetting

We've all seen the magazine covers with perfectly designed Thanksgiving tablescapes that would look amazing even if peanut butter sandwiches were served as the main dish. From gold and shiny vases, to perfectly formed floral centerpieces, to handwritten place cards, those displays can put even our best efforts to shame. The good news is that you don't have to have a degree in Thanksgiving decor or a huge budget to get your table looking lovely.

When all is said and done, your guests are there to enjoy the food not the decor, so don't let yourself stress over it. As long as you don't burn the turkey, guests will likely be satisfied with a few candles and a fork. Try these basic tips to create the perfect setting for your Thanksgiving feast.

Cover it up!

Most people have a tablecloth lying around, and if not, opt for a large sheet. A tablecloth instantly gives your table a more formal look and it does double duty in protecting certain finishes from hot dishes or spilled food. You can make it even more festive by sewing on faux leaves or adding ribbon to the edges. If you don't care about using the tablecloth again, simply hot glue any embellishments you have around the house to the cloth.

Festive runners

Table runners create a nice focal point on the table and provide a perfect home for candles, centerpieces, vases or knick knacks. Don't worry if you don't have one -- creating one from things you have already is easy. Consider using several pieces of ribbon and gently place them side by side. They can even be cut in different lengths. You can also use several placemats, pieces of scrap fabric, paper or fabric doilies, or even a strip of brown packing paper. The runner doesn't necessarily need to be flat either -- a row of small pumpkins would make a festive addition to the center of the table.

Set the table

Dress up your place settings by tying napkins or silverware with pieces of raffia or twine. Toilet paper rolls make for quick and easy napkin rings -- simply cut them to size and cover them with fabric or glue a bow to the top. Dress up your plates with chargers which can be found at most dollar stores or head to the thrift store and find a selection of patterned plates (no need to find matching ones) to mix with dishes you already have.

Centerpieces

Instead of buying fresh flowers that will be wilted come dessert, use vases filled with fresh fruit. Tall cylindrical vases look particularly lovely when filled with sliced citrus, cranberries or apples and then topped off with water. Add a floating candle to the top or stick an LED light to the bottom for even more ambiance. If you do want flowers, try using several different styles and sizes of vases and filling them with one stem each. Dried flowers, fall foliage or paper flowers are all good alternatives to fresh flowers.

Light it up

Candles are key when you want to make a big impact for relatively little money. Place pillar candles in wine bottles and tea lights in small glass jars to make your table twinkle. Be careful when setting food near anything with a flame.

Place cards

Nothing makes a guest feel more welcome than having their very own name perfectly placed near their plate. Instead of using paper, make your place cards do double duty by writing names on mini-pumpkins or apples which serve as even more decor for the table. You can also write names on wine glasses using a paint pen to ensure that no one loses their glass. The paint will scratch off easily at the end of the night. If you are feeling extra zealous, make initials out of dough and place the baked letters on each plate.

Watch: How to make a Thanksgiving wreath

Create a Thanksgiving wreath with elements of nature

More fall decorating tips

Fall decorating ideas for your fireplace mantel
7 Fall decoration ideas on a budget
Fall decor with pressed leaves

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