The turkey is in the oven. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole and other Thanksgiving Day favorites are baking. The mouthwatering scents of homemade yeast rolls, cinnamon-laced hot apple cider and other holiday staples envelope the house. Everything’s under control — until you glance to the dining room. The table which will be surrounded by a dozen loved ones in just a few hours is bare — no decorations at all.


Instead of panicking, let nature and a bit of creative thinking turn that drab table into a fall work of art. It’s easy, practically free, and requires little time, Carol Davis of Sherman’s Interior HomeStore said. Davis, who has been a home decorator/designer for 35 years, said she often turns to the beauty found in nature for décor ideas and materials.


Decorating a table or home “is so easy to do. You look around your house and yard and you start gathering (leaves, twigs, wood pieces, berries, etc.),” Davis said. “For the table, I like to start with a tray, a piece of wood, anything that will elevate your table arrangement whether it’s a candle or a flower arrangement. If you set it (the candle or flower arrangement) up a little higher, we call it putting it on stage, putting it front and center. That really puts a little focus more on the table piece, but keeps it low enough you can see each other over the table without being a total block.”


On the model table centerpiece, Davis and fellow designer, Lisa Howell, used a longer piece of wood somewhat hollowed out, dried black beans, simple glass jars, battery-operated candles, acorns and leaves.


“We’ve used a little piece of wood to elevate our three candle holders which are glass jars. They could be Mason jars or clear jars you drink out of every day,” Davis said. “Place a little battery-operated candle in each because you want to have a little ambience going at the table. The wood isn’t perfectly straight, so we took some black beans and layered those on that piece of wood, then when we sat the candle jars on top of them, they kind of evened themselves out. Then we went out in the driveway and gathered up some of the acorns, and a few magnolia leaves. A little Nandina is always beautiful this time of year because it’s turning colors. You want to grab a little bit of beautiful greenery that’s available for us outside. A few berries would even be nice. The berries would be great whether they are red or orange because they’re colorful.”


The result is a low-sitting, inexpensive, eye-catching centerpiece that was put together in just minutes.


Some fall decorating items such as smaller pumpkins in varying colors and shapes can be used at Halloween and Thanksgiving and then transformed into Christmas decorations, Davis said.


“We actually used some of our little pumpkins (used for Halloween), scored them (cut a small slit in them) and used them as place card holders and/or name holders to identify food items,” Davis said. “After Thanksgiving, you can seal up the slid with a little Elmer’s Glue then spray them gold (or other colors) for the holidays. That way, they’ll stay fresh!”


Using live greenery on the table and throughout the home does have one drawback. As the greenery isn’t in the soil and isn’t receiving nutrients, it won’t likely look its best all the way through Christmas. Mixing it with lifelike, artificial greenery that can be kept from year-to-year, helps retain the overall beauty of the natural décor.


“We mix in natural greenery with silk greenery as the natural greenery won’t stay all that way through the holiday season,” Davis said. “We highly recommend combining those two.


Davis also recommends the use of simple, small slices of wood as coasters and larger slices as chargers for plates.


Place mats could actually turn into a family tradition.


“Make your own place mats, especially if you have kids or grandkids, using something like a wide burlap ribbon,” Davis said. “Just cut the burlap ribbon in a rectangle shape and let the kids draw a turkey or their name on it or personalize it in some way so that it’s their very own place mat for the Thanksgiving meal. Let them make the place mat their own!”


After Thanksgiving is over, the items can be easily transitioned into Christmas décor.


“We can take many things we’re getting ready to discard and paint it gold for the holiday season,” Davis said. “We repurpose it!”