Every Thanksgiving, family and friends gather around someone’s table to partake in the traditional feast. While menus may differ, the cause for celebration remains the same. (And if your Thanksgivings are a lot like the ones celebrated in my family, you spend the days that follow eating so many leftovers, that by the time you’re ready for another sweet potato, it’ll be next Thanksgiving.)

Tea lights and cranberries


Photo Credit: Jenny Hooks

Mini gourds and ice bucket

Your mini gourds can be used to decorate plates, too.

Photo Credit: Jenny Hooks

The traditional holiday is celebrated with a great deal of food and socializing, and when you’re in the middle of planning for such a big event, sometimes thinking about a centerpiece for the table is the last thing on your mind. Buying a floral arrangement is always an option, but it can be expensive. Candles are nice, too, but sometimes a table needs a little more to fill that center space. Here are two quick and easy decorating ideas to make your holiday table festive, without spending much time, money or effort. All you’ll need are some mini gourds, cranberries, a bowl or ice bucket, some tea lights and a few silk leaves from the local craft store.

First, the gourds: If you decorate your home for autumn, you might already have some little gourds hanging out on a few shelves or tables around the house. And if you don’t, there’s still time to find some in your grocer’s produce section when you’re out buying some last-minute forgotten ingredients for Great-Grandma Margaret’s stuffing recipe. Mini gourds aren’t that expensive, and they’re probably the easiest decoration to work with: Just stick them on a table, and let them work their “fall’s here” magic.

Second, the cranberries: A bag of cranberries isn’t going to put much of a dent in the wallet either – I just bought a bagful for $1.99 – but the color those lil’ guys can bring to your table is worth a million.

So put these two main seasonal goodies together, and you’ve got an easy Thanksgiving centerpiece in the making:

If you’re serving a wine or sparkling cider that requires chilling, you can use the beverage as the main part of your centerpiece. Just fill an ice bucket with your prechilled bottle of choice, some ice and enough cold water so that it just covers the cubes. Then pour on the cranberries. The cool thing about the tangy fruit is that it floats. So the water will keep the lil’ guys up at the top of your bucket and not smashed at the bottom of it. Then simply decorate around the bucket with your gourds and silk leaves. It’s as simple as that.

If you’d rather not have an ice bucket on the table, and you have a nice glass bowl that’s center-of-table-worthy, here’s another idea: Fill the bowl with water, add the cranberries, and float some tea lights. Then decorate around the bowl with the gourds. It’s an attractive and simple way to bring color and light to the center of your table.

With all the running around that comes with planning a holiday meal, it’s easy to forget a detail or two – and that includes table decorations. But a centerpiece doesn’t have to be huge to bring holiday cheer. Having a simple design on your Thanksgiving Day table can still offer a lot of impact. Best of all, it’s inexpensive and easy – something we can all be thankful for!