Last Minute Thanksgiving Table Decorations

We are leaving shortly for a trip up to the wilds of Northern California, where we will spend Thanksgiving weekend with some dear friends from college and their families. It is the perfect way to spend Thanksgiving — but I know that Thursday will be a crazy day, scrambling to get potatoes mashed, turkey basted, brussels cooked, popovers made and pies baked – all while entertaining seven kids under eight years old. Oh – and it’s supposed to rain up there for much of the weekend. Which means we need projects!!

My kids are always happiest when they’re feeling useful (don’t we all just want to feel needed??), so my plan is to keep them occupied tomorrow decorating the Thanksgiving table (bonus: cross one project off my to-do list!). Here are the three projects I have planned:

#1 Decorate Thanksgiving Placemat Printables

I saw these great Thanksgiving placemats in Martha Stewart Living; you can download the printables from the website hereI’m going to have the children decorate placemats for the kids’ table. 

I found myself next to Office Depot as I came out of the grocery store yesterday (my 4th trip to the market in one day!), so I popped in to get a roll of craft paper. I cut sheets to 11×17 and sent them to work with my husband to make copies of the printables. If that doesn’t happen (I’m putting the odds in his favor, but you never know about those man vs. machine battles), the kids can still decorate the placemats without the printables. And you could totally just use regular white 8.5×11 paper for this.

#2 Make a Table Runner

Now that I have this great roll of craft paper, I’m also going to have the kids make a table runner for the big table.  This will be a free-form activity — we’ll just roll out 8 ft or so of craft paper and let them go to town with markers & crayons.  I’m also bringing some glue, so if it’s not raining, they can add leaves, acorns, and stuff from outside to make the runner.

#3 Make Place Cards

My 6-year old is really into writing names lately, so we’ve been eating with place cards at our dining table for a few weeks (if only it actually kept everyone IN their seats.)  So I’ve put him in charge of making place cards for the Thanksgiving table.  I packed a few sheets of cardstock, but you can certainly use plain paper.

If you’re looking for more inspiration for Thanksgiving projects, here are a few other DIY favorites from the office!

Leaf Place Card Holders (Ages 9-16)

Using a folding technique, create beautiful leaves to hold the place cards your kids make.


Bubble Wrap Indian Corn (All Ages)

The perfect project for that extra bubble wrap you have laying around the house!


Handprint Turkey Burlap Keepsake (Ages 5-8)

Crafting a Thanksgiving keepsake with your child’s handprint is the perfect way to make a lasting memory of the season!


Orange and Clove Table Decor (Ages 7-16)

Easy on the eyes and the nose! This is a quick and simple project to dress up the Thanksgiving table.


Thanksgiving Nature Centerpiece (Ages 3-9)

A great excuse to get outside for a while, get your kids engaged in making a small and simple nature centerpiece!


Glycerin Leaves (Ages 4-9)

Another great one for getting the kids outside, preserve leaves you find on a family nature walk with glycerin and water.


Raffia Pumpkins (Ages 5-9)

Start this one the night before Thanksgiving! Super fun project to try with raffia or twine, and some moss (if it’s still around). 🙂


Hopefully, our projects will keep us everyone happy & occupied while we whip up our Thanksgiving feast.

Wishing you and your family a safe, smooth and joyous Thanksgiving!  And if you have any other last-minute projects to entertain my troops, please share!

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