10 Thanksgiving Table Decor Ideas – Using Garden Flowers, Foliage, and Fruit

One of the most rustic Thanksgiving table decor ideas featuring gourds, fall branches, berries, leaves, and candles, all set around plates and orange napkins
(Image credit: Alex Raths)

Use your garden's rich bounty to create Thanksgiving table decor ideas that will enhance the occasion with natural textures and fall colors.

Gather lush foliage, vibrant berries, seasonal flowers, seed heads, nuts, and fruit and vegetables from your yard – or forage for them on autumn walks.

There are so many opportunities to get creative with natural Thanksgiving decor, from DIY craft projects to Thanksgiving flower decor, or just displaying simple foliage.

A Thanksgiving centerpiece from the garden is a great place to start, and will set the scene for dinner guests. Don't forget little flourishes, such as place setting decorations, and embrace the opportunity to add sprigs of foliage wherever you can.

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Natural Thanksgiving table decor ideas to inspire

Whether serving up Thanksgiving in the garden or feasting indoors, these natural Thanksgiving table decor ideas will help you to create a memorable celebratory scene that will impress your guests. 

1. Display a foliage and pinecone candle holder

Table centerpiece featuringcandles, pine cones, moss, and foliage from the garden

This fabulous woodland-inspired centerpiece combines lush foliage and feathery moss with rustic pinecones.

To recreate it, choose a large, shallow bowl that will allow the design to be seen at its fullest. Fill the base with moss – if you don’t have any in your yard, it can be purchased from garden centers or florists.

You will need to pack it in quite tightly in order to secure the candles in place – otherwise you could affix them to the base of the bowl using a little melted wax.

Next, add your pinecones – around a dozen should be enough – ensuring a good spread across the centerpiece.

Finally, loosely drape sprigs of foliage across the top and around the sides of the bowl. The trick is to make it look organic rather than perfectly symmetrical, as if it had naturally grown that way, for an enchanted woodland feel.

2. Make a gourd vase

Gourd hollowed out to make a vase, filled with pretty flowers and foliage

Pumpkins and squashes make charming vessels to display flowers in. One large centrepiece home-grown pumpkin, or three smaller gourds, are the perfect Thanksgiving table decor – and you can complete the scene by placing a mini pumpkin on each plate.

To make your vase, first remove the top of the gourd. While it's not usually difficult to cut into the skin of a small squash with a knife, for a larger pumpkin it’s best to use a flexible pumpkin saw. Next, hollow it out using a serrated spoon – a metal kitchen spoon will do in a pinch.

To ensure your flowers stay fresh, either place a small vessel inside to hold water, or line the inside of the gourd with a plastic bag and fill it with damp moss.

Next, choose a mix of seasonal foliage and whatever flowers you have blooming at the moment. Cut the stems to length, remove the lower leaves and arrange as desired.

3. Arrange a mini Thanksgiving tree

Mini Thanksgiving tree arrangement in glass vase, using willow, foliage, dried mini pumpkins, seed heads, walnut shells, horse chestnuts and leaves

Make a stunning seasonal display with a sculptural Thanksgiving ‘tree’, using twigs and foliage arranged in a vase.

Recreate this idea by filling a large vase with seasonal bounty, such as dried mini pumpkins, seed heads and pine cones. Use them as a base to arrange interesting twigs, such as willow, and foliage, such as eucalyptus.

Make seasonal decorations using walnut shells, horse chestnuts and berries, tied with jute twine or ribbon, to hang from the branches.

Battery-operated fairy lights will add a magical finishing touch to this beautiful centerpiece.

4. Hang foliage swags onto chairs

Wooden chair with foliage swag tied to the back using grey ribbon

This is one of the most simple yet effective Thanksgiving table decor ideas. Collect a mix of foliage from the garden and trim to size – roughly two thirds of the width of your chair back.

Split a bunch of foliage in half and cross over the stems a little at the bottom, disguising the cut ends among the leaves. While simple green foliage looks very elegant, for more of a country feel, include sprigs with berries.

Tie tightly together with ribbon – use florist’s wire if the ribbon won’t hold it – then tie a ribbon to attach to the back of your chair.

5. Add autumn color with a dried flower garland

Rustic table setting with colorful dried flower garland

Drying flowers is a wonderful way to preserve garden blooms and enable you to create a stunning table garland that will last for several years.

Flowers can be dried in different ways, so take care to choose the best method. Blooms with small, robust heads – such as lavender, hydrangeas, and ornamental grasses – can be air dried by hanging them upside down in a dark, warm place for a few weeks.

Larger flowers with numerous petal layers, such as roses and chrysanthemums, can be quickly dried with heat. You can do this over a low heat in the stove, but using the microwave will better preserve the color of the petals. Bury the flowers in a bed of silica gel in a microwave-safe container, and heat in one-minute intervals.

Finally, the most delicate blooms, such as dahlias and pansies, are best dried using silica gel. Cut them to size then gently cover them in the gel in an airtight container. Seal and leave for 3-7 days, depending on the size of the flowers.

Once you have dried your flowers, you are ready to make your centerpiece. This stunning arrangement uses rose buds, mimosa, flax, matricaria, daisies, helichrysum, broom, delphiniums, poppy heads, phalaris, bunny tails, eucalyptus, gypsophila, oat stems, and statice. 

Cut all the flowers to a length of 4 inches and bunch together groups of the same type, fixing them with florist's wire. Take a length of garland and wire in some foliage, such as eucalyptus stems. Starting at one end, push a group of flowers into the garland and secure in place with wire. 

Gradually build up with flowers, mixing up different types for fullness. Finish with three groups of flowers pushed in the opposite way to hide the wiring.

6. Make an apple place setting

A table laid with plates and cutlery, and apples hollowed out for use as vases filled with autumn flowers and berries, and place names

These place card holders are bursting with fall color and are so easy to make using home-grown apples. Due to their small scale, they work best arranged with more delicate flowers that might otherwise get lost in a larger centerpiece.

Using a metal fruit corer, make a hole in the top of each apple. Gently carve out enough of the stalk so that it is deep enough to hold your flowers. Brush a little lemon juice into the hole to stop the flesh from browning too much, then line the hole with aluminum foil.

Add a little water to the hole, then fill with your garden flowers and berries. Finish by inserting your name card on a metal place card holder – or make one by twisting a piece of fine-gage wire.

7. Create a magical glow with a woodland tealight holder

Glass candle holders decoupaged with autumn leaves

Fall leaves have an ethereal quality when lit from behind, when their intricate natural design can be viewed at its best.

To recreate this idea, choose a range of leaves in different shapes and colors. You will need to dry the leaves using a flower press – or you could use two paper towels to sandwich the leaves in a heavy book. It should take around a week.

Select suitably sized glass jars – such as those used for artisanal jams and jellies. Coat your jars with a layer of decoupage glue, then place the leaves in a pattern around the jar in a design of your creation.

Once you are happy with your design, apply a further coat of decoupage glue on top of the leaves to seal them. Work from the center of the leaf outwards, to ensure they lie flat. Allow to dry overnight.

Tie a ribbon or decorative string around the rim of each jar, then half fill with water before adding a floating candle.

Display the decorative lanterns in a group with scattered acorns, seeds or berries for a seasonal look.

8. Add a sprig of foliage to napkin decorations

Christmas place setting with a red napkin, foliage and dried orange slice

One of the easiest ways to bring the garden indoors this Thanksgiving is to add green flourishes to your place settings.

The simplest ideas are often the most effective, and this rustic napkin decoration sets the scene for a warm and inviting country feast.

To get the look, lay an attractive sprig from the garden across a folded or rolled napkin. If desired you can add to the rustic flavor by using a piece of jute twine to secure it in place.

Either keep it simple with green foliage, or add berries or dried fruit for a hint of seasonal color.

9. Make a display of nature’s bounty

Directly above view of an oak wood table decorated for a delightful thanksgiving evening, the table is adorned with twinkling fairy lights and rustic pumpkins

For a rustic country table, collect fallen leaves from the garden and use them as the backdrop for a seasonal Thanksgiving display. Arrange a home-grown bounty, with gourds and fall fruits serving as the stars of the show.

Display your produce on a natural wood platter to create a focal point for the scene, and finish with twinkling fairy lights to elevate the look for a special occasion.

10. Make rustic place setting decorations

Napkin decorations made from autumn leaves and acorns, laid on top of napkins and wooden plates

These foliage and acorn decorations look fabulous tied to napkins or gifts, or can be arranged in a small jar.

Starting with the acorns, twist some strong florist wire at the base to act as the stalk – it may help to use a hot glue gun to affix. Choose leaves with longer stalks or stems and group together in a flat fan shape, then place a couple of the acorns on top.

Holding all the stems and wires together, twist a length of raffia or twine around the stems from top to bottom, tying the ends together at the base.

To use as a napkin decoration, lay on top of a folded napkin, then tie a ribbon around both.

Melanie Griffiths
Senior Editor

Melanie has worked in homes and gardens media for two decades. Having previously served as Editor on Period Living magazine, and worked on Homes & Gardens, Gardening Etc, Real Homes, and Homebuilding & Renovating, she is now focusing on her passion for gardening as a Senior Editor at Gardening Know How.

Melanie has spent the last few years transforming her own garden, and is also a keen home grower, having experimented with pretty much every type of vegetable at some point.

In her spare time, she loves to explore inspiring gardens and historic properties.