Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and if you’re hosting this year, you’ve already started thinking about all the things you’ll need to do to prepare. Hosting a major holiday like Thanksgiving requires a lot of work, including planning the menu, buying and putting up the decor, cleaning your home, and cooking the meal.
Unfortunately, hosting Thanksgiving isn’t just a lot of work. It can also be expensive. The average cost of Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people was roughly $53.31 in 2021, up 14% from the previous year. And that’s just the food itself! It doesn’t account for decor, flatware, or other things you need for a successful dinner. And thanks to inflation, we can expect the holiday to be even more expensive this year.
So what are your options if you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year on a shoestring budget? To help you save money, we’ve rounded up ten affordable Thanksgiving table decor ideas. These ideas can help you make your home beautiful and festive on any budget.
10 Tips for Affordable Thanksgiving Table Decor
Thanksgiving is mostly about the food, but the decor adds a little something special. People who routinely host Thanksgiving dinner might have decorations stored away to use over and over again. If you’re new to this Thanksgiving gig (or have to start from scratch), you’ll need some ideas for Thanksgiving table decor on a budget.
1. DIY it!
It’s no surprise that our first tip for affordable Thanksgiving table decor is to go the DIY route. Sure, you could visit your local home goods store and buy everything you need for your Thanksgiving decor. But chances are that you can make a lot of the same things yourself – and for a fraction of the cost. Here’s a secret for you: people probably won’t be able to tell which decorations you bought and which ones you made yourself.
2. Stick With Neutral Colors
When you picture Thanksgiving decor, you probably picture fall colors like orange, red, gold, and more. Here’s the problem with those colors: you probably aren’t using them the rest of the year. You’re putting hard-earned dollars towards decor that’s going to sit out for one holiday, and then going back in storage the other 364 days of the year.
Instead of relying on traditional Thanksgiving colors, consider decorating with natural neutrals like browns, greens, and cream. Neutral colors are more timeless, meaning you don’t have to worry about your decor going out of style after just one year. Additionally, because the colors aren’t specific to fall or Thanksgiving, you can use those same pieces for dinners and parties throughout the year.
3. Look Outside
What if you could set up your entire Thanksgiving table decor with items you could find for free outside? One of the benefits of Thanksgiving is the aesthetic is all about traditional fall colors—all of which you can find outside!
If you go to your local home decor retailer, chances are plenty of the Thanksgiving decor items are going to incorporate natural elements like leaves, pinecones, pumpkins, and more. But what if, instead of buying them, you just went right to the source?
The downside of this strategy is that you’re limited by what you can find outside. But the good news is just by visiting a local park (or even your own backyard), you can probably find everything you need.
4. Let the Food Be the Centerpiece
Let’s be honest — Thanksgiving is really about the food. And if your family is like most, you might even find you have room to fit all of the food on the table, let alone any extra decor. The easy solution to this problem is letting the food pull double duty. Not only can your Thanksgiving food be there to eat, but it can also serve as the centerpiece or decor for your table.
Not sure how to make your food look beautiful? Consider creating an edible centerpiece or creating mini dessert place cards to mark each person’s seat. Or look for easy food styling tips for Thanksgiving!
5. Take a “Less is More” Approach
For some people, decorating is one of their favorite parts of hosting guests. But we can all agree that we’ve been to a party or holiday without really noticing the decor at all. That might not be what you want to hear if you’re someone who puts a lot of effort into your party decor, but it can be great news for someone who’s stressed about their Thanksgiving decor.
After all, people don’t come to Thanksgiving dinner for the decor. Instead, they come for the delicious food and the opportunity to see family and friends.
6. Look At What You Already Have
If you have ever hosted a holiday before—or even if you’ve ever put up decor — you probably have something that would be appropriate for your Thanksgiving table.
Using what you already have at home offers a couple of benefits. First, using what you have at home will save you money since you won’t have to buy as many items. And using what you have on hand can guide your theme, too.
After all, coming up with a decor theme can be overwhelming, especially if home decor isn’t normally your thing. Decorating with the items you already have can give you an excellent starting point!
7. Skip the Tablecloth
The tablecloth is often a central piece of Thanksgiving decor. Lately, though, they’ve fallen more and more out of fashion. Tablecloths are expensive (sometimes unnecessarily so), and often end up getting thrown out afterward anyways. You probably aren’t going to reuse a tablecloth with stains all over it from someone’s spilled wine!
Luckily, there are plenty of tablecloth alternatives, including a bare table, a table runner, or a paper tablecloth. And the paper tablecloth has the added benefit of creating another DIY project or a fun activity for your guests – especially the kids!
8. Shop Budget Stores
It can be so disheartening to walk into your local Home Goods and see the price tags on all of the decor items. When you’re on a budget, spending hundreds of dollars on your Thanksgiving decor isn’t an option, but it often feels like that’s what’s required, based on the prices these stores set.
Good news — it’s more than possible to shop for your Thanksgiving decor items without spending a ton of money.
One great place to look is Dollar Tree or other similar stores. These are a great place to find festive flatware, plates, centerpieces, and other decor. And as an added bonus, everything you’ll find is right around $1.
You can also try shopping at your local thrift store. Your options may be slightly more limited, but you can find hidden gems that you either wouldn’t be able to find in a store or that would cost significantly more.
9. Decorate with Candles
Do you have a cupboard or shelf somewhere that is filled with candles you bought and haven’t used yet? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Often, those candles end up sitting unused for years, but luckily, hosting Thanksgiving gives you an opportunity to put them to good use.
Your candles may already be in aesthetically beautiful containers, which makes the decorating part easy. You can just put them out on the table! If you have more plain candles, a bit of DIY effort will turn them into the perfect Thanksgiving decor.
10. Grow Your Own Centerpieces
We’ve already talked about how you can step outside and find everything you need to make your perfect Thanksgiving tablescape. But what if you can’t find quite what you’re looking for? If you plan in advance, you can simply grow what you need to create your centerpieces.
First, if you’re going the traditional Thanksgiving route and making your decor with pumpkins and gourds, you can easily grow those items yourself. When the holiday comes around, you can just walk outside and cut what you need!
But traditional fall items aren’t your only option. You can also grow your own flower centerpieces. To go this route, consider the colors the flowers will grow in and when they’ll bloom. You won’t want to choose flowers that bloom in the spring and are dead by the fall!
The Bottom Line
Hosting a major holiday can be exciting, but it also comes with a lot of pressure. Not only are you responsible for the food (unless you’re hosting a potluck), but you also want to create a beautiful atmosphere for your guests to enjoy. And let’s face it — decorating on a budget can be challenging.
The good news is that hosting Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be expensive. Just as there are plenty of ways to save money on the meal itself, there are also ways to decorate in a beautiful way while sticking to a budget.
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