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Ask Jennifer Adams: Last-minute Thanksgiving decor

It makes a lot of sense to streamline the season with easygoing, casual decorations that still set a festive and welcoming mood.

You can have a "proper" set table and still be creative.
You can have a "proper" set table and still be creative.Read more

Q: I’ll be having a constant stream of guests this year starting from the weekend before Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s. I don’t have much time to decorate seasonally as thoroughly as I want, but I do want the house to look welcoming. I don’t own anything really specific to any holiday, and I don’t have space to store anything like that anyway. What are some easy ideas or themes to use to start for Thanksgiving, besides the obvious leaves on the table, burlap, and orange plaid?

A: What a great question! It makes a lot of sense to streamline the season with easygoing, casual decorations that still set a festive and welcoming mood. I personally enjoy decorating for any occasion, and love to recycle decor items to make the transitions simple. Think about some basic looks that you can build on more specifically or change easily throughout the season.

Start with lots of sparkle and light at your front door or porch, extending into your entryway. Clear or white holiday lights look amazing any time of the year. In fact, next year, start with these lights before Halloween. And leave a couple of pumpkins uncarved. After Thanksgiving you can add colored lights and more strings along your landscaping, windows, and eaves. Vary the size of bulbs to add dimension and sparkle. Choose one or two of the smallest strings to turn on the twinkle function for a shimmery, dynamic look.

For your front door, build or buy a wreath made of bare twigs. Unlike pine boughs, twigs will look great for months. Bit by bit, you can add or take away more specific details and ornaments for the different holidays. Use this idea inside, too, with large bouquets of twigs in oversize vases! Add a string of battery-operated LED lights in clear white for an extra welcoming touch.

Inside your home, change out accessories such as throw pillows and blankets, tablecloths, and even comforters or duvet covers in cool colors for warmer tones. Trade in lighter, breezy fabrics for thicker, textured ones. After Thanksgiving, change the pumpkin and browns for deeper greens, cognac, and wine tones. For the New Year, replace the greens with navy blues and the blue colors you see at the bottom of a hole in the snow. Swap gold tones for silver and satiny white.

Phase in dinnerware in classic, neutral patterns such as, well, white, and stainless steel. White dishes truly look great with any decor and, any food. You can always accent with napkins, a table runner or place mats, and chargers underneath the dinner plates and the centerpieces.

Remember the scents, too. Along with crowd pleasing vanilla, citrus, cardamom, and cinnamon scents, shop for more specific candles, potpourri, and diffusers for each holiday. Or go for the more sophisticated blends to help set the mood you want. And aim to use up the most seasonal products first and keep a stash of vanilla to go along with everything.

Have fun with this.

Have a design dilemma? Jennifer Adams is an award-winning designer, TV personality and author of the books Love Coming Home: Transform Your Environment. Transform Your Life. and How High Can You Soar – 8 Powers to Lift You to Your Full Potential. Send your questions to or for more design ideas, visit Jennifer’s blog on her website at