When it comes to the dinner table a few decorations can make a meal become an experience the whole family wants to linger around.
You can make the picture perfect dinner table as displayed in magazines, but then wonder where the food is supposed to go.
I like to decorate my dinner table with functionality. I like it to be beautiful but there has to be room for pot holders to hold kettles or a baking dish. And if something gets spilled, I can’t worry about it wrecking my decorations.
Dinner Table Decor: What I Look For
A few elements I aim for when decorating the dining room table are functionality, simplicity and beauty.
Functionality: If there is so much stuff on the table that I can’t see the person across from me, it’s too much. If there is no room on the table to set baking dishes and the milk pitcher, it’s too much.
I like to sit down and pass dishes and enjoy a meal. I don’t want to have to keep all the dishes on another counter so everyone has to get up to fill their plates. Call me old fashioned or stubborn, but that’s me.
Simplicity: Less is more. I like a few, well chosen, meaningful decorative pieces that can stand by themselves. If I spill something, I don’t want a million things to have to wipe gravy off of. This also leaves more room for the food dishes.
Beauty: If I don’t think it’s beautiful, why decorate with it? Sometimes I get sucked into the stereotypical seasonal decorations that I don’t even like. So I have to remember to look outside the box and decorate with something I’m going to enjoy looking at.
Dinner Table Decor: All Occasions
There are a few elements of the dinner table that are constants in every season. Merely changing the color and style can spruce it up for the current season.
Placemats – I use placemats every day. We don’t always have a tablecloth on our dining room table so placemats do the trick. They are easy to wash and easy to shake out. You can keep a small stash of seasonal colors of placemats to switch out at any time. Better yet, find some with reversible sides!
Table Cloth – Table cloths make any dinner extra special. Get rid of the old oil cloth and opt for a beautiful, functional linen cloth. You are doing laundry anyway, right? Just shake off the crumbs and throw it in the wash after a few uses.
Table Runner – A table runner stays clean a lot longer than a tablecloth does. Placing a simple runner down the middle of the table adds elegance and maintains functionality.
Candles – Candles of any style can spruce up the dinner table. You can use tall, elegant holders for a more formal feel. Or simple little tea lights for a cozy feel.
Mason Jars – Decorative mason jars are appropriate for any season! Make your own for each season!
Fall Dinner Table Decor
1. Sunflowers – I don’t want to lug one of my huge sunflowers in from my garden to perch on the table. No. There are much cuter, miniature sunflowers or sunflower-looking-flowers to stick in jars or vases on your table. Even perennial Black Eyed Susans which are still in full bloom around here.
2. Fall Leaves – You can put colorful fall leaves under a clear plastic table cloth. Otherwise you can place one or several under a candle as an accent.
Another way to use fall leaves is bring in a whole branch with the leaves still attached and pop it in a vase or mason jar. This could cause a bigger mess as the leaves dry but it’s pretty for a day or two!
3. Decorative Grasses – Go to the junk pile that never gets mowed around and look for seeded out grasses. Pick a few grasses with full seed heads and make a grass bouquet for the table. You can also buy decorative grasses at the farmer’s market or nearby greenhouse.
4. DIY Fall Leaf Placemats – If you have children, get them involved! Have them gather a little stack of their favorite leaves and grasses. Buy some laminating sheets and laminate them into placemats. You can leave the edges square or let the kids cut the edges as they please.
5. Tree Cross Sections – Tree cross sections make wonderful trivets! If you are adventurous and have the resources, by all means go cut your own! Sand them down a bit and Voila! Rustic fall beauty!
Otherwise you can spend a bit and buy some. Your investment will last for years. When you aren’t using them on your table, put them under plants or elsewhere for decoration. Or re-use them for a party or wedding like my friend did for her cake I made!
6. Gourds – Place one or two small gourds in the center of the table.
7. Acorns – Fill a mason jar or vase with acorns You could even poke a candle or silk fall flowers into them! Spray paint them gold and/or silver and then put them in jars. A word of caution: acorns can have critters living in them. Gather the acorns you want and let them sit in direct sunlight on your porch for a couple days before bringing them into the house. Or gently bake them in your oven on low. Worms don’t make lovely dinner table decor!
8. Cattails – When we were little my dad would drive us through the flowage scenic area on the way home from church sometimes. In late summer we would stop and cut a bunch of cattails for decorations. Or you can buy them here! Do not put your cattails in water. This will make them seed out. Just poke them in a dry vase or jar.
Thanksgiving Dinner Table Decor
9. Baskets – If you have a real cornucopia, whip it out and stuff it full of gourds, flowers or fruit for decoration! I don’t have a cornucopia so I just use other wicker baskets from around the house.
10. Mini Pumpkins – Pumpkins say Thanksgiving! Find a few small or mini pumpkins and set them on a bed of fall leaves in the middle of your dinner table.
11. Thanksgiving Placemats – Have your children write a list of things they are thankful for. They could even write out a prayer of thankfulness. Or they can color pictures of what they are thankful for. Use contact paper to laminate your children’s artwork and use them as placemats.
12. Hymn Pages – Grab an old hymn book from the thrift store. Tear out a few hymns that speak of thankfulness and use them for decoration. Burn the edges for a rustic look. Or just tear the edges. You can also “paint” them with coffee to make them look aged.
Place these under a clear plastic table cloth as decoration. Laminate them for placemats, or simply place a hymn page under a candle or pumpkin.
When money is tight, decorations are one thing that get passed up. But with these simple and affordable dinner table decor items, you can have the most festive fall table!