Holidays & Celebrations Home Decor Reuse Lifestyle Practices

Five Easy Ways to Add Reuse to Your Thanksgiving Table

If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving gathering in a few weeks, add some feel-good, sustainable touches to your table that your guests will remember (and look forward to next year)!

  1. Cloth napkins— there is actually debate about which is more eco-friendly, paper napkins or cloth napkins, but cloth comes out the winner since they can be reused hundreds of times and don’t require cutting down trees, and are even more environmentally friendly if they’re made from linen (flax uses less water as a crop than cotton) and if washed in cold water and hung to dry. Besides, they also feel better and add a very cozy, classy touch to a tablescape. Look for preloved cloth napkins at vintage stores, thrift shops and online; sewists can easily whip up napkins from a few fat quarters of cloth, OR there’s also a very easy no-sew way to make napkins if you can at least measure and cut fabric into squares, and then pull threads around each edge to create a narrow band of fringe– find a video and directions from Stitchin’ Post here.
  2. Napkin rings made of repurposed materials— yes, a toilet paper or paper towel tube can be cut into rings and tightly wrapped with beautiful yarn, trim or strings of beads, but reuse decor that takes even less time and still looks good is what I gravitate towards– like using leftover twine or ribbon simply tied around the napkin; easy embellishments to attach to the center knot/bow include paper leaf cut-outs with a hole punched at the top of each; a large, vintage button, like those made of brown, criss-crossed leather; a tag with the guest’s name written on it; or a sprig of greenery.
  3. Photo place cards— our family has had so much fun with these over the years, as I’ll raid our box of “old photos we can use in craft projects” (basically, copies or similar images of photos we already have elsewhere), cut them down to about a 3″ x 2″ size and put them at each person’s place at the table inside a mini frame (or I’ve also collected a few napkin rings over the years that can hold photos– search for “SPALT by Ikea” online or Google “photo frame napkin rings”– there are quite a few different brands/styles still available online at eBay, Etsy and Poshmark at reasonable prices). I usually use reaaalllly old photos people haven’t seen in a while, and that’s where the fun comes in.
  4. Table runners/centerpieces made from existing “stuff”— think wooly scarves and pumpkins; I also found some great ideas from the website, including using a long piece of brown kraft paper as a table runner, with markers at each person’s place so that guests can personalize it; gluing together vintage book sheets; using a line of overlapped lace doilies; or rolling out a long sheet of wrapping paper; the one made with cloth placemats placed in a sort of hopscotch pattern was also genius reuse.
  5. Table topics using trivia game cards— I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: old board games found at garage sales, creative reuse centers or in your own closets can be used for so many things even if the actual game isn’t playable anymore (like the “DVD versions”). The ones based on trivia usually have decks of game cards that have trivia questions on one side and the answers on the other; get out these decks and place them at both ends of the table or put a card at each person’s place. Trivia game cards can be great for all ages, depending on the game, and it’s not about anyone “winning”; when it’s your turn you just ask a question to the whole table–which can then spark conversation and memories that make for much better table talk than the sometimes awkward or politically charged exchanges that people often dread at Thanksgiving dinner!

Got any more reuse tablescape ideas? Which of the ideas above do you like? Please let me know in the comments below!