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The Thanksgiving Tablecloth

The Thanksgiving Tablecloth is one of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions. Just take an inexpensive tablecloth and have everyone write something each year. You’ll treasure the memories that you make!

A tablecloth with writing on a table with candelabras for a fun Thanksgiving tradition.

Many years ago when I began hosting Thanksgiving, I was reading and searching for Thanksgiving table decorating ideas and came across the idea of a thankful tablecloth.

I loved the idea, so we started this wonderful Thanksgiving tradition—everyone signs the Thanksgiving tablecloth, writing about something for which they are especially grateful.

What Do You Need for this Thanksgiving Tablescape?

How Does this Thanksgiving tradition Work?

We leave the tablecloth on the table throughout the holiday season, and encourage family, friends, and anyone who spends time in our home to share their blessings.

Each year as we prepare our menu and Thanksgiving tablescape, we sift through the memories, chuckling at some and crying at some as we remember happy moments as well as challenges that have faced family and friends through the years.

Thanksgiving Table Decorating Ideas

If you’re using this Thanksgiving table idea then you don’t need much else in the way of decor for your table. I usually have some small votive candles and short jars with fresh flowers.

One of my pet peeves is tall flower arrangements in front of your face when you’re trying to talk to someone across a table!

Here are a few other Thanksgiving table decorating ideas that we’ve used over the years:

  • Place a card from Table Topics at each chair—great conversation starter and one of my favorites! Click the link to order your Table Topics right now!
  • Use fresh herbs as part of a centerpiece—you get bonus points for the lovely scents
  • Let the kids make turkeys out of pine cones and use them to hold place cards
  • Mix up your guests and don’t put couples togetherinteresting conversations!

A Family Thanksgiving

Over the years, we’ve hosted many family Thanksgivings and we’ve included friends as well. Since we keep the thankful tablecloth on the table throughout the holiday season, lots of friends have come through and left their mark in addition to just our family.

That’s what makes this Thanksgiving tradition so much fun and so memorable—we invite anyone to participate!

Here are some snapshots from over the years:

A picture of someone's quote from the Thanksgiving tablecloth.

For all of my life, until she couldn’t do it anymore, my family gathered at my Granny’s house for Thanksgiving. In 2005, she traveled to “the big city” to share the day at our house.

Just a few days after she wrote this, she had unexpected open heart surgery at the age of 82. She is still with us, and for that we are immensely grateful.

A photo of a quote on the tablecloth, a great diy Thanksgiving decoration.

We have a split family. Half of our immediate family and my husband’s brother sit squarely in the University of Georgia camp, while my husband’s sisters’ families are big Georgia Tech fans. There are usually some football comments dotting the tablecloth each year.

A quote on the Thanksgiving tablecloth, part of our Thanksgiving tablescape.

Update: Three years later, Brian became a Georgia Southern Eagle and now he only roots for GSU! Go Eagles!

The tablecloth also serves as a reminder of those we have lost over the years. Reading their comments sparks memories, conversation, and stories—lots of stories. We are a storytelling family!

Quote from mother on the diy Thanksgiving decoration tablecloth.

My husband’s mother wrote the message above, in what turned out to be her last Thanksgiving with us. It’s a treasured, tangible piece of her that brings her spirit to the table as we enjoy our turkey feast.

Friends quote on the tablecloth for Thanksgiving table ideas.

Family, friends, good food, and good wine—what more do you need?

Our tablecloth is not expensive. You can pick up one right now on Amazon or at your local department store!

It’s not a fine fabric and has no exquisite lace. But it is a family heirloom that will be cherished for many years.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

Update Notes: This post was originally published November 22, 2010, and on November 10, 2018, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

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Valerie @ From Valerie's Kitchen

Friday 4th of November 2011

This is a fantastic idea and one that I will share. How wonderful for the kids to be able to look back and remember what they were thankful for each year. Thank you!