Group of three centerpieces for Thanksgiving, with pumpkin, gratitude tree or candle

Group of three centerpieces for Thanksgiving, with pumpkin, gratitude tree or candle.

Are you gearing up for Thanksgiving in America and looking to decorate your table with something new? I was asked to teach a centerpiece making workshop and it was a real challenge to come up with something affordable, really attractive and that students could complete in two hours!

Here’s what I came up with!

Centerpiece with tree; guests add leaves.

Centerpiece with tree; guests add leaves.

It’s simple, but elegant and flexible. This version has a gratitude tree in the center, this one is cut out of kraft paper card stock (I cut others out of other shades of brown scrapbooking card stock).

The idea is that your guests arrive, chose a leave, write something that they’re grateful for, and hang a leaf on the tree. A low-key version of going around the table and saying it out loud.

But! Maybe you’re not into the tree this year, so I made some variations. This centerpiece also looks great with a small pumpkin in the center. This one happens to be a pie pumpkin, because that’s what fit.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece with Pie Pumpkin, gold acorns and pine cones.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece with Pie Pumpkin, gold acorns and pine cones.

But wait! There’s more! Keep the centerpiece, put an electric candle in the middle, and you can use it basically all winter!

Centerpiece with Electric Candle.

Centerpiece with Electric Candle.

Here’s how to make the Thanksgiving Centerpiece with Pine Cones and Acorns.

The parts are: an 8″ cake board, in my samples I made, I used plain white, because that’s all my local store had. In class, my students used gold cake plates, which look ever so much fancier!

You’ll also need pine cones, acorns, glue, gratitude tree cut out of card stock. I don’t happen to have an oak tree or an evergreen tree, so I ordered both the acorns and the pine cones online, sources are listed at the end.

I cut out the gratitude tree using the Silhouette computer controlled cutting machine (which is super fun!), if you’re handy with an X-acto knife, you could draw a tree in two parts and cut it out.

The tree slots together: one half has a slot down from the top one has a slot up from the top.

Step 1 Glue the tree together with Alene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue. You’ll have to hold to together until the glue dries, so you’ll appreciate the quick dry. This is the most fiddly task of the whole thing. Having a up or something for the tree to be supported by as you glue it helps.

Cut out your leaves and add a hole with a hole puncher and thread yarn or twine through the hole for hanging the leaves. If you don’t have a Silhouette, you could sketch your own leaf design, or Dover sells a small, inexpensive stencil book with a variety of leaves.

Step 2 Spray paint stuff! You can order gold pine cones online and they look terrific and gold-y. If you want to buy locally or they’ve run out, you can spray paint your own. Here’s a picture of my acorns in the process of being spray painted:

Spray painting acorns, copyright Elaine Luther 2016

Spray painting acorns.

Here’s a tip: for a better, more goldy look, spray paint your acorns and/or pine cones white first. Allow that to dry and THEN spray paint them gold. Work outside of course. Spray painting is easy, but spray painting roundish objects takes some patience, because you have to keep moving them around to get all sides.

Step 3 On to the pine cones! Dry fit your pine cones, or pine cones and acorns, on to your gold 8″ cake board.

Close up of acorns on Thanksgiving centerpiece by Elaine Luther.

Close up of acorns on Thanksgiving centerpiece by Elaine Luther.

See how you can see the edge of the cardboard there? You could cover that with ribbon if you like.

I also had the acorn hats, which I did not paint gold, I like the contrast. But in the end, I glued them upside down like this, three gold acrons, then a pine cone, and the pattern repeated.

Here’s a picture of it on my work table:

Centerpiece with acorns in progress.

Centerpiece with acorns, in progress.

My students did some wonderful and creative variations, some pictures are below.

Try to choose at least one small pine cone, that can be the one you glue down last, because sometimes when you dry fit them, all the pine cones fit, and then you glue them down and suddenly they don’t fit anymore!

When you arrange the pine cones, put them right up to the edge of the cake board, and angle them outward, this both looks nice and also creates the most room in the center of the cake board.

How to glue. You can use hot glue or Alene’s Tacky Glue or Alene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue. Hot glue certainly works quickly and grabs strongly. I taught this workshop in a healthcare setting where we cannot use hot glue, so I tested multiple glue choices and went with Alene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue.

As you glue down each pine cone, find the flattest spot on the pine cone and put the glue on that spot. Then place the pine cone on the cake round and keep gluing until you’re done! That’s all there is to it!

Step 4 Once the glue is dry, place into the center whatever you’d like in the center, a small pumpkin, maybe even a pomegrante, an electric candle (never a real candle, since the cardboard base is flamable), or the gratitude tree. Enjoy!

Here are some images of what my students did with the project:

Lottsa Leaves

Lottsa Leaves.

Student Centerpiece.

Student Centerpiece.

Student Centerpiece.

Student Centerpiece.


Gold pine cones, regular pine cones, such an amazing variety of plants and things to use for floral arrangements and home decorating:

Acorns! Buy the “for weddings and crafts” acorns, which have been baked in the oven to kill any little bugs that may have crawled in! This is important! If you gather your own, you’ll want to do this too! These may be shipped only seasonally, check availability.

And yes, there’s an entire website that sells nothing but acorns. Isn’t the internet great?

Fun bonus thing, here’s a Thanksgiving Mad-Libs type game from Real Simple.

Any questions? The comment section is open!

Do you love it? Will you make it? I’d love to see a photo!

Please Pin It! There’s a Pin It button, please share this post on your favorite social media! Thanks and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!