Designer Tip: Very Very Last Minute Thanksgiving Table Decor

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY The Havenly Team

Fill 1Created with Sketch.

Published on November 27, 2013

Remember last year when you didn’t run the dishwasher before everyone arrived for Friendsgiving (sharing utensils is environmentally-friendly!)?  How about when you dominated at the liquor store but forgot to buy the mixers (things got hazy real fast)?  Thanksgiving is stressful.  There’s so much to remember….and what’s that?  Fresh flowers/foliage/mini gourds for a table centerpiece?  You’re lucky to get dinner on the table!

Don’t you have enough to worry about?

Yes!  So we don’t fault you for not having thought your table decor through just yet.  Don’t freak out.  There are many ways to polish up your presentation at the last minute.  Here are our very very last minute Thanksgiving table setting tips…


No time to pick up fancy fabric napkins?  The solution is simple. A dish towel, like the ever popular IKEA TEKLA towel (0.79 each) that many of you already have in your home, is an inexpensive way to add a classic design element to your holiday table. Roll up the towel and tie with baker’s twine for extra flair. Added bonus: dish towels are way much absorbent than stiff fabric napkins – you know, just in case your guests enjoy the punch a little too much.

{Images via 1, 2, 3, 4 }


Use what you have around the house to create a centerpiece. Chances are, you have some candles (pillar or tea light– either work!) and a small mirror lying around. Use the mirror as a tray and gather candles on top of it. Go outside and grab some twigs, pine needles, or pinecones to distribute in between the candles, and throw in some cranberries (or even another variety of dried berry or pretty/durable fruit you have in the pantry) for color.  My favorite centerpieces are almost always the ones that are a little haphazard, a little handmade….it makes the environment feel just a little more personal.  As far as individual place settings go, grab bunches of leftover herbs and/or other edible garnishes you have in excess and lay them atop each napkin/dishtowel to dress things up.

{Images via 1, 2, 3, 4 }


There’s something about seeing your name written in your mother’s cursive on a little place card that makes you feel extra thankful around the holidays!  Placecards are one of the easiest and most personal touches you can add to a table, whether it’s a folded tag or an elaborate cut-out, just make sure you handwrite each name. Our Director of Design Operations, Shelby, just scored these adorable place card holders from the Nate Berkus for Target collection. However, in a time crunch, you can totally make your own with readily available materials like pretty leaves, card stock, cardboard backing from your most recent online purchase, etc.

{Images via 1, 2, 3}


No, I’m not suggestion you make your punch extra boozy so your guests will forget that you didn’t have a centerpiece (although on second thought….)!  If you’re making a quick run the to liquor store anyway (or better yet, are sending your friend/husband/boyfriend) have him/her pick up some individual bottles of either champagne or pretty liquor. Dressed up with some raffia or ribbon tied around the neck, mini booze can be your best friend in terms of dressing up each table setting and adding that little extra something special.

{Images via 1, 2, 3, 4}


Hey, you didn’t slave over a hot stove for nothing!  Let the fruits of your labor take center stage, negating the need for a centerpiece at all!  You’ll need a large dining table for this one (unless you want your guests to eat directly off of the serving platters…in which case I’m confused as to why you are reading this blog in the first place!).  Just remember to dress the table with scattered trivets, etc to protect the surface area from hot pans/dishes/etc.  And make your food pretty– it is the star, after all.


{Image via 1}

…OR ignore all of the last minute Thanksgiving tips above, and guess what?  Everything will be okay, too.  Your friends and family gather together every year to enjoy one another and celebrate just that– that we are all lucky enough to have each of these special people in our lives.  The second most important reason for gathering together is gravy, of course.  Decor is lower on the list 🙂  Happy Thanksgiving (one day early) from my family to yours!

xx, Alana

**  Havenly, an online interior design service, makes decorating simple, convenient, and affordable. For one low flat fee per room ($185), you’re matched with a personal interior designer who creates a space to match your style and budget. Then, buy what you love through our e-commerce platform, and a custom-designed Havenly room is delivered to your doorstep. To meet your online designer and #getdecorated, fill out our questionnaire at