thanksgiving

10 Easy, Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Table Ideas We Learned from Martha Stewart

updated May 24, 2019
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Martha Stewart is the queen of housekeeping. But especially when it comes to the holidays, some of her ideas are a little, um, much. Because there’s Martha’s level of precision and crafting skills, and then there’s the rest of us. Fortunately, not all of her ideas are that hard!

We went through her Thanksgiving table crafts and decorations to pick out the ones that we can all actually pull off (skill- and budget-wise). Here are a few to try this Thanksgiving.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

1. Use a butcher paper runner.

No need to buy new linens: Run a length of (white or brown) butcher paper down the table as a makeshift runner. It gives the table some style, protects the surface, and can be tossed when you’re done!

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

2. Try white on white.

When you use all-white dinnerware, it doesn’t really matter if it matches — all those white tones meld together and look super-chic. Even Martha once used a bright white with a creamy white! Good tip if you’re trying to stretch your everyday dinnerware to work for a crowd.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

3. Use pumpkins for decoration.

Martha used lumina pumpkins when she was doing that all-white table, but just about any kind of (smallish) pumpkin looks good on a table, and this time of year you can find them just about anywhere.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

4. Round up all the vases you have.

If you don’t want to spend a lot on flowers, let your vases do the heavy lifting instead: Line up a bunch of them in different sizes and colors down your table, then give each just two or three springs or branches to fill them up. Done!

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

5. Turn pumpkins into candle holders.

No candle holders? No problem. Hollow out mini pumpkins (or even turnips!) to make space to hold little tea lights.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

6. Stack a cake stand on a plate.

If you have a cake stand, place it on top of a serving dish or a large plate to create even more room for food.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

7. DIY your own trivets.

Buy rolls of cork or cork tiles at the office supply store, then cut out any shape you like — Martha’s done leaves, but you could do fun geometrics for a different take. Use the finished product as quickie trivets to protect your table.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

8. Use little trinkets to make the world’s simplest place card holders.

Martha’s made little flags like these and put them in the openings of walnut shells. We put them on pumpkins. Other options? Dinner rolls, pears, wrapped chocolate truffles … you get the point. Make some easy-to-assemble place cards and they’ll not only spruce up your table decorations, but they’ll also help put some distance between family members that shouldn’t sit together.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

9. Use branches instead of flowers.

Have some fallen branches in your yard? Gather them up, give them a wipe, and lay them down the center of your table as a runner. Sure is cheaper than flowers, right?

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

10. Stamp your own napkins.

Get inexpensive cloth napkins and use a stamp and fabric paint (available at craft stores) to create your own custom design.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)