7 Steps to a Simple & Elegant Thanksgiving Table

Today, contributing writer Paige (also of Mudroom Boston) shares a great (kid-friendly!) Thanksgiving table how-to:

Thanksgiving at our house tends to be a big, casual affair, but that doesn't mean I skip setting a pretty table. On Thanksgiving, the food is really the star, so follow these easy steps for a simple and elegant table setting that keeps your kids busy and your wallet fat.

1. Start with a white tablecloth. If you don't already own a simple white banquet cloth, it's worth the (minimal) investment. Mine is from Target and was a mere $20!

2. Send the kids out to hunt and gather for your centerpiece. While I must admit I do love arranging flowers, there's no need to spend money on materials for a fancy centerpiece. Let the kids burn off some holiday energy by sending them out to hunt for and gather leaves, branches, pinecones, acorns, or whatever else they can find -- perfect elements for table decoration!  Put tall boughs in a vase, or smaller items in a long basket or tray down the center of your table.

3. Layer on the texture. Pick up some burlap at a craft store and, using a placemat you already own as a template, cut out individual mats for however many guests you're hosting. No need to hem the edges…fraying burlap is pretty!

4. Skip the china. While I love breaking out my wedding china, sometimes it's easier to use the dishes I've got in my kitchen cabinet. Just like the white banquet cloth, you can't go wrong owning a set of plain white plates. Top off your white plate with a simple solid salad plate for some visual interest. Pier One and Home Goods have served me well when it comes to pretty (and cheap!) salad plates.

5. Get creative with your napkins. Don't own any fun cloth napkins? Get yourself to a local fabric store (or hop online) and pick up some 100% cotton yardage in a great pattern. Wash the fabric, iron, then cut in squares (again, using an existing napkin as a template), and use fusible hemming tape to create finished no-sew edges.

6. Make easy and unforgettable place cards. Using a small rectangle of kraft paper or a cut up grocery bag, write a guest's name at the top (or rubber stamp the name if you have terrible handwriting like me), followed by a statement about why you and your family are thankful for that guest. Roll the paper in a scroll and secure with a short piece of yarn.

7. Pretty up your chairs (and more) with pompoms. Since you're keeping your table simple, consider decking out the chairs with pompom garlands made by you and your kids! In the next few weeks leading up to turkey day, combat the "there's nothing to doooooo" refrain by handing your kids a ball of yarn and getting them started on this fun project. There are no shortage of DIY pom pom tutorials out there and all you need is one (or several) colors of yarn and sharp scissors. Don't worry if you get carried away -- scatter extra pompoms or pile them in a vessel on your table.

Have a simple, elegant, and happy Thanksgiving!

Image credits: Paige Lewin