Thanksgiving Table Toppers Craft

thanksgiving centerpiece sm

Make this Thanksgiving extra special by crafting these super cute tabletop decorations!

Tools and Supplies For All Four Projects:
4 empty food canisters (from snacks, nuts, coffee, pet treats, etc.)
2 sheets each of brown, orange and cream gift tissue
4 sheets of tan gift tissue
Empty toilet tissue tubes (1 tube makes 2 napkin rings)
Plain plastic stir sticks (for swizzle sticks)
Sheets of craft foam in assorted fall colors (self-stick if available)
Scrap of thin cardboard (from cereal box)
White office paper (to make patterns if desired)
Craft knife (optional)
White craft glue
Double-sided tape
Transparent tape
1 green chenille stem
Brown chenille stems (1 1/2 are needed for each place marker)
2 feathers
1 button


Here's how:

1.  On paper, draw an acorn with a face (about 1 1/2" tall) and cut it out to make a pattern.

2.  Trace around the paper shape onto the back of tan foam and then cut the foam acorn out with scissors.

3.  Cut the acorn top and face from the paper pattern and trace around them onto corresponding colors of foam and cut them out.

4.  Use white glue to assemble the acorn, and then allow it to dry.

5.  Trace around the foam acorn onto tissue paper, and cut the shape out.

6.  Use clear tape to securely attach a stir stick to the back of the acorn.

Make one for each guest!


Here's how:

1. Choose four empty food canisters in slightly different sizes. Clean them, remove the labels if possible and discard the lids—except for the one from the largest can (it will be used to trace a pattern for the Pilgrim’s hat brim).

2. Lay down two sheets of cream tissue paper, and then place the largest can in the center of the flat tissue, with the open end up.

3. Pull the tissue up around the sides of the can, and stuff all the excess into the open end of the can so the tissue securely covers it.

4. Repeat the last two steps with the remaining three cans and the two sheets each of tan, orange and brown tissue. (Save the other two sheets of tan tissue for creating the napkin rings.)

5. Next, use scissors to cut the craft foam into pieces to decorate each character on the totem pole. If desired, draw and cut out patterns on paper to trace onto the back of the foam before cutting. To create the strips that wrap completely around the cans (such as the Pilgrim’s collar and hat and the Native American’s headband and hair), use a pencil and ruler to measure and mark the foam before cutting. (If the foam sheets being used are not long enough to wrap around the cans completely, cut additional pieces to fill the gaps.)

6. Before adhering any of the pieces to the Pilgrim, use a pencil to trace around the saved lid onto a piece of brown foam, then draw another circle about an inch larger around the traced lid. Use scissors or a craft knife to cut the ring out. Slip it onto the can to create his hat brim and secure it with a little glue if needed.

7. For a fun extra, cut fringes into the strip of foam being used for the Native American’s collar.

8. If using self-stick foam, simply peel and stick on all the features; if not, use double-sided tape for large pieces and small amounts of white glue for small pieces. Hold anything adhered with white glue in place a few moments so the glue can set.

9. To attach the turkey’s wings, cut two small rectangles from thin cardboard and crease them both in half so they form right angles. Tape or glue them to the back of each wing with the folds along the straight edges of the foam. Tape or glue the loose flaps of cardboard to each side of the turkey’s body.

10. Embellish the pilgrim with a button, the pumpkin with a chenille stem and the Native American and turkey with feathers.

11. To complete the totem pole use white glue (or hot glue) to attach them on top of each other. Allow the tower to dry completely, then place it on the dinner table for a centerpiece that will double as a unique conversation piece!


Here's how:

1. To make one tepee place marker measure and cut a sheet of tan craft foam into a 4” x 5 1/2” rectangle.

2. Roll the foam into a tepee shape and staple twice to hold the tepee together where the foam overlaps. Add some double-sided tape to hold the rest of the overlapping foam shut.

3. Next, cut out a small rectangle of foam and use a marker to add the guest’s name. Also use markers to draw designs on the tepee.

4. Cut two brown chenille stems in half and then stick three of the halves into the top of the tepee. Use tape to secure them inside the tepee.

5. Now, cut small shapes like triangles and circles from foam, and use white glue to attach them and the guest’s name plate to the tepee.

6. Prop the tepee on its back to dry so the name plate will not slide while the glue dries.

Repeat the above steps to make as many place markers as needed.


Here's how:

1. Use scissors or a craft knife to cut an empty toilet tissue tube in half.

2. Cut a sheet of tan tissue into thirds. Fold one piece in half and then smoothly wrap it around one of the cut tubes. (If the tissue extending beyond the end of each tube is over 3” long, trim it down with scissors to about 2” long.)

3. Stuff the loose ends of tissue into each end of the tube. Use tape to secure the tissue flat inside the tube.

4. Next, use scissors to cut a bunch of small squares (about 1/4” each) from assorted fall colors of craft foam.

5. Use dots of white glue to adhere all the squares onto the “cob,” holding each foam square in place a few moments so the glue can start to set.

6. After the glue is dry, fold a small amount of tan tissue into a rectangle about 4” x 4.” Cut strips part way down the rectangle. Fold and flatten the “corn husks” to fit inside the tube.

7. Use tape to flatten and secure the husks flat to one side and then the ring is ready to hold a pretty paper or cloth napkin. Make as many as needed! 

More Ideas:

Instead of gift tissue, cover the cans for the centerpiece with fabric, gift wrap or sheets of newspaper that have been colored with craft paint.
Besides wrapping the cans in big sheets of tissue, colored or printed paper can be cut to size, wrapped smoothly around sides of the can and secured with double-stick tape.
Instead of purchasing craft foam to create and decorate the projects, simply use cut paper.
The faces and colors shown here can be recreated, or original ones can be designed.
Older kids and adults can use a craft knife to cut the foam.
Embellish the crafts even more with items like beads, rhinestones, pom-poms, raffia or googly eyes.
For nature themed decorations, adorn the projects with found objects like seeds, pods, twigs, small pebbles and leaves.
A hole punch or circle template can be helpful in creating the round elements on the projects.
Make more totem poles to adorn the mantle or side tables too.
Make faces on the back of the totem pole too for a centerpiece that looks great from both sides of the table.
Make a Totem Pole of family members or animals instead of the Thanksgiving characters shown here.
Guests can take their tepees home as favors.
Instead of making “Indian corn” napkin rings, make little versions of the faces used on the centerpiece.
Use the swizzle stick technique to make decorative food picks for Thanksgiving appetizers or desserts.
Use empty gallon paint cans or other large containers to make a bigger Totem Pole that sits on the floor or front porch.
For even more coordinated dinner décor decorate small or large glass votive candleholders with the faces or corn motif.
Decorate paper or plastic cups this way to create cute treat or favor containers.
Use large sheets of craft foam to make matching place mats.
Cut leaves or other seasonal shapes from craft foam and attach them along ribbon to make pretty fall garlands and banners.
Try these techniques to make one-of-a-kind decorations for any Holiday or party!

Pamela Maxwell is an artist, author and mother of two busy little boys. Her craft and scrapbooking projects have appeared in numerous books and magazines. Her most recent book is “Memories in Miniature.” Photo by Pamela Maxwell.

Published: November 2011

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