Designer Secrets: 10 Tips for the Perfect Thanksgiving Centerpiece


True story. There I was, sitting there, waiting for a little Halloween get together at our house. Nothing fancy. Couple kids. Couple adults. Finger foods (finger??? That would crack up my five-year-old). And as I'm setting the table in preparation, I look at my table and say to myself, "Wow, as an interior decorator, you can really do a better job than that!". Don't get me wrong; it wasn't awful. But it wasn't put together very intentionally. Especially as I threw it together with things I had around the house. With this in mind I sat down to plan my Thanksgiving centerpiece. I am not much of a DIYer, but I AM a great shopper, and I want to show you how you can (in one shop!) pull together a perfectly lovely, easy-peasy Thanksgiving centerpiece you'll be proud to show off come Thanksgiving. Here it comes:

If you have family heirlooms you're able to incorporate, do it here. Grandma's teapot? Your mother-in-law's candlestick? Yes. Here. Now. And plan everything around those. If you don't have these treasures? Choose your components with the following in mind:

Designer Tip #1: Use a tray as foundation

I like to start with this so that all the little bits and bobs are not rolling all over the table. You have enough juggling to do without chasing down an acorn. Also, it's easy to lift the centerpiece as one and move it to/from the table. 

Designer Tip #2: Choose a tall(ish) piece for the middle

Please note, though, that the taller you go, the more you should be able to see through. The meal is to celebrate friends and family. No one wants to have to lean around your centerpiece to talk. 

Designer Tip #3: Next up: supporting players of different height

Think of it as the Three Little Bears. Papa Bear. Mama bear. Baby bear. The idea is to bring the eye down from the large, center piece and connect it with the layer on the table (tray, filler, etc.). The eye loves travelling along triangles. I'd say two to four additional pieces; along with the main piece so that there are an odd number of items arranged. Another trick the eye just loves.

Designer Tip #4: Add some filler

Fill in around the above components with something that is generally flat. The idea is to fill in some of the negative space left on the tray without covering it completely.

Designer Tip #5: Keep it interesting from all sides

For most tables, centerpieces will be seen on all sides. Make sure that there is something for everyone at any seat at the table.

 Designer Tip #6: Simple symmetry? 

Ah yes, symmetrical or asymmetrical? To be honest, it's whatever floats your boat. For a uniform look, have the same view from all sides. Feeling a little more daring? Mix it up a little! It'll be a conversation starter, for sure!

Designer Tip #7: Keep colors in mind

To show depth (another eye favorite!) use differing colors or shades of the same color. Red is great, but if everything on the centerpiece is the same red, all the pieces blur together. Make them separate entities.

 Designer Tip #8: Time for textures

The more the better! Rough pine cones. Smooth mirrors. Go for it! Throw them all in!

 Designer Tip #9: Mix in some metallics

I love to have at least one piece of reflective or metallic element. It adds just a bit of sparkle, especially when mixed with candlelight

 Designer Tip #10: Don't forget to invite Mother Nature.

You know me. No room is complete without something green or living. Well, think of this tablescape as a tiny room. Now, green nature is not always necessary. Like I mentioned above, pine cones are GREAT! Twigs, branches, flowers, these all fit the bill. 





Here is a little centerpiece I put together as an example. All items are available at Target (see below for links). It's not that I'm getting all this money from Target to sell you this stuff. I'm not. I wanted to point out that you can put together a beautiful centerpiece in one shopping stop without spending a ton. You have enough other things to put your mind to this season!

I started with the aged-mirror tray. It looks well-loved and adds that sparkle I was talking about. For the center, I saw this fall tree. As I mentioned, since it's fairly tall, it is not completely solid. You can easily see the person seated across from you through it. A couple more candles of differing heights give a warm feeling. Note: when using candles around food, go for unscented. You'll want all your senses tantalized by the aroma on the table, not the waxy kind. For filler, these adorable felted acorns and pine cones. Just to sprinkle in and around the candles. I don't want to completely cover the tray, but just for some fun. Plus, nothing more homey than felt. 

See? Really, it doesn't have to be any harder than that. A few simple components combined to make a perfect Thanksgiving centerpiece for your friends and family to enjoy. 

Bonus: this will work for any display any time of year! Use real flowers in the spring! Christmas trees in winter! These tips are golden year 'round.

Shopping links: Vintage Finish Mirrored Glass Tray, Tabletop Tree With Felt Leaves, Fragrance-free Candle, Red Battery-Operated Candle, Fragrance-free Pillar Ivory/Gold, Pinecone and Felt Acorn Fill

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