Personal Finance

Spend next to nothing on Turkey Day decorations

Last week’s mention of Thanksgiving dinner table decorations generated so much feedback and so many great ideas that I had to share a summation in this week’s Money Corner. Remember, with all the holiday expenses coming up, there’s no need to splurge on Thanksgiving décor. Let nature provide.

All you need is a few manmade essentials; the rest can be found at your nearest park, golf course, creek or even your own backyard.

Leave it to the leaves.

Take a walk this weekend and look for leaves — red maple, white oak, sycamore or any large, colorful ones you can find. The softer the better. These can be the distinctive accents on so many DIY decorations. Also hunt for hedge apples, pinecones and big acorns. Here are a few crafty things you can do with them.
Got any glass?

Search your cabinets for any clear vases, hurricanes and apothecary jars you might have lying around. These make great foundations for your creativity. Big cocktail glasses are good, too, and I’ve seen plastic versions at dollar stores that work just fine as large votives.

Spill the beans

. You can fill the glassware with candles, surround them with layers of different colored dry beans or acorns, and even accent them with leaves. It works great for a centerpiece at the dinner table, around the house or on your mantle.
Spell it out

. Here’s a great idea that works with the glass creations above, or on its own: Spell the word “Thankful” or “Thanks” or whatever word you wish on each glass/votive. I’ve done it with a small tube of gold glass paint, filled the glasses with dry beans and stuck a small tea light in each one. Beautiful, and only about $8!

You can do the same thing for even less with this similar idea. Get some cheap burlap fabric, cut out triangular pennants, make slightly smaller ones out of card stock (one per letter), paste together with a glue gun, and paint the letter on the card stock. String them together with cheap twine and hang it from your mantle or in your dining room.

“Plant” a tree.

Ever heard of a gratitude tree? Find an old fallen tree branch and put it in a large vase or clay pot. Cut out leaf shapes from construction paper, or squares to paste on real leaves. Have each guest fill out a leaf with what they’re thankful for! Steal some deals

. Yes, not all of this stuff can be found in nature. Sometimes a little shopping is in order. But cheap is a must. Like, say, the ceramic turkey-shaped salt and peppershakers I found for $1 at Target

last year. You can also find small pumpkins and gourds for next to nothing. Trace a tea light on top of one; cut out to the depth of your tea light and, boom, you have festive pumpkin votives!

You and Pinterest

know the possibilities are endless here. So get outdoors and start gathering. Enjoy the weather while you can, and create something special for the season – for only a few cents! Because Turkey Day is so late in the month this year, you still have plenty of time to bring out your inner gatherer.

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click