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First of all, remember why you are coming together. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks (I know - duh). But really, think about what this means. It is a time to reflect and consider what makes you grateful. Most people would say they have gratitude for their family. So, translate that into your home decorations on this occasion. Put out photographs of family events. You might include pictures of grandparents and great-grandparents or of occasions that people have forgotten. This will become a wonderful way to pass along family stories and introduce young people to their family history.

What else are you grateful for? Perhaps it is the great weather or great food. What does that suggest to you as decorations? Stage the table in autumn colors: gold, olive-green, red, orange. Get candles to place in the center of the table in matching or complementary colors. You might create a garland of dried flowers or silk leaves in those warm colors and hang them along a mantle or stairwell banister. Or drape them over wall art or the photos you have placed around the room.

Fall fruits and vegetables also make beautiful decorations and you might place them in bowls or along your dining table. Or even on any hors d'oeuvres tables you set up. Squashes come in lovely color varieties. So do oranges and pumpkins and cranberries and gourds of various types. Perhaps a lovely basket can hold these. Decorate the baskets with ribbons in the autumn colors and that will bring out the loveliness of the hues of the fruit and vegetables. Even find a classic cornucopia shape and place fruit and veggies as if they are spilling out of the frame. Remember these foods represent the harvest as well as the abundant meal you are about to serve. What else could you do to add to these items to reflect the harvest season? Don't forget the turkey! Create a "turkey" out of fruits and veggies or have the children in the family draw turkeys which are then placed around the room where the family will dine. This will both occupy the children before the meal and allow them to participate in the conversation at the table once the meal commences.

Another fertile area for your decorating imagination is the history of the holiday itself. It was a celebration of gratitude for the harvest and for the survival that a good harvest represented. You can find Pilgrim hats and cartoon figures as well as images of the Native Americans whose generosity and friendship enabled the Pilgrims to live through the winter. If you don't like cartoon-style figures, you can be more discreet and create buckled shoes such as those worn by the Pilgrims and place them by the fireplace or the front door!

One way to welcome people to your home from the first instant is to place an autumn wreath on your front door. Again, use autumn colors of orange and gold and red. Many people successfully use a grapevine as the base for the wreath and then tie fruit or veggies or silk leaves onto that frame.

Most important of all, remember the purpose of Thanksgiving and take the time to experience and express gratitude for one another and for the gifts of the season. Make time during the dinner for people to share what things they are grateful for in the past year or at any time. No doubt, someone will mention their gratitude for your creativity and for the lovely setting you have created for them to enjoy the holiday and one another's company!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Kate Clancy and her creative partner Lyn Smith have founded A Year of Holidays ( http://www.giftsforalltheholidays.com ) to help people celebrate the holidays throughout the year in unique and special ways.

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How To Enjoy A Hayride
We Celebrate with Family!
Do you enjoy decorating your home for a family gathering? Then Thanksgiving is YOUR holiday! After all, you have your family and friends gathered at your home or the home of a close relative for a very special holiday occasion. How do you make them feel festive and welcome? How can you decorate in a way that is tasteful and fun?

By Kate_Clancy