Thanksgiving 101: Decorations and Tips (& a DIY project!)

I’m telling you all about my favorite Thanksgiving cocktails, appetizers, place settings, and more in my new blog series Thanksgiving 101! Up today: Decorations and last-minute hostessing tips.

My obsession with holiday decorations is… Intense. I’ve always loved decorating for all holidays. (We have a Taco Bell tradition on Easter, but you know I still own some egg garland.) Because of that, I’m sure you can imagine that I go a little bananas over holidays I celebrate in spades, including the always-overlooked Thanksgiving.

Is it hard to find decor for this holiday? Sure. Do you have to mix woodland home items with Halloween pieces? Absolutely. But—like with so many holidays—a little (lot) glitter, a couple of DIY projects, and a bit of cheeky paper honeycomb can really set the mood.

Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (16)


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Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (15)

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Easy Thanksgiving Decorations (14)

I know, I know—you’re wondering where I bought those super-rad corn string lights. They were marked down at Jo-Ann Fabric. (!!!) Other favorites include my new homemade pennant garland, the recent additions to my owl collection, and the cinnamon brooms that are keeping our home looking and smelling like the best of fall.

Notice that wreath? I made it a while back, but I recently updated it with a few clearanced acorn bells I found after Halloween. Using heavily-discounted/dollar section/couponed items, you can make this wreath in a matter of minutes for less than $10. Is anything better in the world of DIY than a project that is cute, cheap, and inexpensive? Doubtful.

thanksgiving wreath

You’ll need…

  • Wreath – Target dollar section
  • Twine – Target dollar section
  • Felt leaves – Target dollar section
  • Acorns bells – Michaels clearance
  • Hot glue


  • Wrap the twine around the wreath and secure it in the back. Leave a loop of extra twine for hanging.
  • Hot glue on the leaves, letting the edges overlap. Let dry.
  • Hot glue on the bells, making sure to secure the edges.

See? Easy. And super cheap. You’re apartment is ready to host Thanksgiving! 

But wait. Before you get to cooking, here are a few last-minute tips…

  • Tidy the “unseen” areas. You never know who will discretely rummage for a tampon or an extra spoon.
  • Light and check. Turn on all your lights and check every area for dust or dirt.
  • Groom your pets. And if you have pets, keep a lint roller handy for those who would like one.
  • Prep your powder room. Have additional hand towels and toilet paper accessible, and place an air freshener in the space.
  • Leave space in the fridge. Remember how many people will bring their own drinks and plan fridge or cooler space accordingly.
  • Check the table. Remember to check all dishes, silverware, and glassware for spots or residue; sometimes washing machines don’t get everything, and this is not a good time to notice that problem. And don’t forget to light those candles!
  • Get yourself ready. Heaven forbid someone arrive before you’ve gotten dressed. Don’t wait until the last minute! This is why we have aprons.
  • Prepare favors early. This added bonus should not be what knocks you off schedule.
  • Use a Reynolds Bag. Cook your turkey in a Reynolds Bag and thank me later.
  • Keep cleaning supplies within reach. Something will get spilled or broken. Be prepared to fix the problem so no one feels guilty. Don’t be the hostess with white rugs and no carpet cleaner.
  • Make a playlist. Turn the volume down low, but keep music going to avoid awkward silences in conversation. (I totally forget this at our last party and I’m still kicking myself!) I play music through our television since our living room, dining room and kitchen are all connected.
  • Pour yourself a glass first. First as in before anyone arrives. This is one of the greatest pieces of hostessing advice my mother gave me.
  • Keep salt and pepper within reach. Perhaps someone likes saltier food than you do. It’s not an insult, it’s preference, and since you’re hostessing to entertain your guests they should not feel awkward asking for more seasonings.
  • Get out your board games. Nothing kills a party faster than a dull moment between food and hang-out time.
  • Have extra everything. This means extra silverware, glasses, napkins (SO MANY NAPKINS), drink picks, food, dishes… Everything. Someone will forget which is theirs and want another. Have one ready.
  • Set the bar. I am typically finishing the last side dishes when guests start arriving, and the first two questions out of their mouths are always Can I help you with something? and May I have a drink? If you can avoid making your guests work, do; instead, pour them your pre-made cocktail, send them to the stocked bar, or hand them an opener for whatever type of beverage they brought. I once hostessed Thanksgiving without a cork screw. Thankfully, we were tipsy (I’m not going to lie to you!) before we tried to open that wine, so we all got a good laugh out of me poorly opening the bottle with a damn power drill.
  • Relax. I don’t care if you’re hostessing game night or your wedding; it’s a party, so treat it as such and have fun!

Wondering why I didn’t share any actual meal recipes? Because you probably have your own! (And because my favorite recipes aren’t mine to share.) One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is eating the recipes I grew up with. Bread stuffing is my favorite, by far. What’s yours?

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