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Hi, it’s Amy from 11 Magnolia Lane and I have to confess, Thanksgiving might very well be my favorite holiday. Of course, there are other holidays with gifts or other attractions that might run a close second but Thanksgiving is all about food and that always wins in my book.

We’re getting ready to host a special Thanksgiving at our home this year. We are having my parents and brother’s family including my niece and my TWIN three-year old nephews, a true family celebration. It promises to be an exciting day and we’ve been looking forward to it for weeks.

I know from past experience that it is easy to get overwhelmed by Thanksgiving–with all the planning, decorating, shopping and cooking–it is a ton of work just one meal. These days I keep my Thanksgiving menu fairly simple and traditional, and try to do the same with the decor as well.

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For some people I know, Thanksgiving means pulling out your finest china and spending hours polishing silver to set the perfect table. I find myself more interested in making simple yet delicious food and creating a comfortable place for our guests to enjoy the meal and the company without all that formality.

Here are some ways to keep your table simple, your decorations easy and still feel festive:


Use Natural “Fall” Decor--leaves, grapevine, pumpkins, dried flowers, or feathers, which are all readily available at craft stores if nature doesn’t provide them for you. Mix them with fancier accessories for a “special” occasion feel–you can add some “bling” to plain candle holders, use a fancy vase for the dried flowers, or create a centerpiece using a serving tray.




Use or repurpose casual fabrics to cover your table–that way if a glass of red wine is overturned nobody is worried about ruining an heirloom tablecloth. I just used a burlap remnant across the center of the table. It is easy to remove if there is a spill, it was super-inexpensive, and the best part is it won’t need a trip to the dry cleaner when the meal is over.

Use Paper placemats–These are a wonderful new entertaining essential. They are fun, inexpensive and they fit right in the neutral decor, plus you just throw them away, how easy is that?


thanksgiving place setting


Mix up your china patterns–I still like to use my formal wedding china for Thanksgiving since it is a “special” occasion {otherwise I’ll never use it!}, but for fun I mixed it in with a more casual china pattern.

Use place cards–It’s an unexpected and personal touch, and one that is nice when you are serving a sit-down meal. I printed mine on simple cardstock using a fancy font, but you can hand-letter them too.




Add a garland or banner with the Holiday “theme”–it’s nice to have a reminder for everyone about why they are gathered together. I printed this one from HERE, strung it with tiny clothespins (so much easier then weaving in the ribbon) and attached it to brown grosgrain ribbon to hang along side the table.



Frame a printable–printables are a quick and easy way to decorate for a special occasion. I found the “gather” printable HERE.


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Create a place for the younger ones–since we have some special little people joining us I went ahead and created a table for the children, this way the adults can enjoy some calm in the Dining Room, and the kids can be kids in a space designed with them in mind.



Keep the “kids” table simple and child-friendly-– I made sure to add crayons along with some special activities to do while they waited for the adults to finish eating.

Have them make a a keepsake item–I created this “I am grateful for printable” where they can write {or dictate to an adult} what they are thankful for this year, you can download it HERE: {thanksgiving gratitude printable} . It will be nice to look back on these when they are older.

Let the kids create some family traditions–Our second craft is a family tradition my son made up. He has each person trace their hands on a blank piece of paper then decorate them like a turkey and cut them out. Once the meal is over the kids get to hide them for each other to find. For some reason, our kids love this game and it keeps them busy while the adults finish dessert and coffee.








Keep the table simple-– I set this table with heavy pottery plates and more paper placemats {something else that they can color on!}, it is all very informal and kid-friendly.



Serve the kids special things too–I used little milk jars to hold their drinks. My kids love anything with a paper straw so we’ll fill them with something festive and sparkly for Thanksgiving as a treat.



Remind them why they are there–I created a banner for the kids too, after all the day is about being Thankful, no matter how young or old you are!




I hope these tips are helpful as you prepare for your Thanksgiving, and most importantly that you have a wonderful holiday!

We have a variety of entertaining tips for the Holidays at 11 Magnolia Lane, be sure to stop by and check them all out or follow along with us via our social media buttons under my photo.

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