The Meaning of the Colors of Thanksgiving

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As soon as Halloween is over, there's an immediate shift in the color combinations that dominate home decor, arts and crafts projects and virtually all visual media. Gone are the lurid orange, black and purple color combos, and in come the golden hues of fall.

A color palette inspired by fiery fall foliage, toasty pumpkin pies and jewel-like cranberries reminds us all that Thanksgiving is on its way. The colors of Thanksgiving are meaningful because they evoke the changes in nature at this special time of year as well as reflecting the bounty of the seasonal harvest.



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You can embrace the Thanksgiving color palette while decorating for the holiday, designing your Thanksgiving table or enjoying Thanksgiving-themed crafts with the kids. Let the colors and motifs of the holiday remind you and your family of all the things you're thankful for.

Fall foliage inspires Thanksgiving colors

Thanksgiving colors are certainly inspired by the beautiful hues of fall foliage. As Thanksgiving approaches, the leaves of deciduous trees all over North America change from green into vibrant shades of reds, oranges and yellows. Peak fall foliage is usually over before Thanksgiving, but the natural phenomenon announces the arrival of fall, when we start looking forward to the holiday.

Take inspiration from both the colors of fall foliage and the motif of leaves—particularly maple, oak, aspen, birch and beech—for seasonal crafts and Thanksgiving decor. You might also incorporate similar natural items like bare branches, pine cones, acorns and nuts.

Here are just a few fall foliage-inspired arts, crafts and home decor ideas for Thanksgiving:


  • Choose a new table runner with a Thanksgiving color palette or fall foliage-themed design motifs. Add complementary napkins, place mats and Thanksgiving centerpieces for a beautiful tablescape.
  • Collect and preserve fall leaves by waxing them. Use your preserved leaves for DIY wreaths, garlands, centerpieces, candle-making, collage art and more.
  • For a kids' art project, use collected fall leaves as stamps: Simply paint the leaves in fall colors and press them against paper. Consider a similar project with fabric paint and plain fabric to make your own Thanksgiving tablecloth or other fall-themed linens.


Colors of a cornucopia

The cornucopia (a.k.a. horn of plenty) is a symbol of abundance that long predates the North American Thanksgiving. However, the horn-shaped container bursting with goods from a bountiful seasonal harvest is an ideal motif for the holiday.



Look at any image of a cornucopia and you'll see fruits and vegetables fitting a classic Thanksgiving color scheme. Take inspiration for Thanksgiving crafts and home decor from winter squashes in shades of yellow, green and orange, dusky pink sweet potatoes, ruddy apples and multi-hued corn. It's not all muted pastels, though. The cornucopia can feature pops of bright jewel tones from cranberry, pomegranate and citrus fruits.


Creative project ideas inspired by the concept of cornucopia include:

  • Creating a Thanksgiving tablescape themed around a seasonal food item, such as an orange themed holiday table.
  • Crafting an actual cornucopia as a centerpiece, perhaps from paper or felt. Stock up on craft supplies in Thanksgiving colors!
  • Using genuine or faux food items for your crafts, such as dried orange slices, wheat sheaves, corn husks, gourds and whole nuts.


Color inspirations of the season

Along with fall foliage and seasonal produce, the Thanksgiving color scheme reflects the season in other ways. As Thanksgiving approaches, we experience shorter daylight hours, cloudier skies and cooler days, resulting in outdoor scenery in subdued, dusky hues. Depending on your particular locale, you might see bare branches and dormant flower beds, while evergreens and pops of red berries provide color in place of blooms.


Patterns and textures are important considerations for your Thanksgiving decor and crafts projects, along with color. Plaids and warm textiles like chunky knits and flannels are fitting for the holiday. Combine these with Thanksgiving colors for a look that suits both the season and your own personal style.

The following ideas nicely represent the fall season:

  • Make your own DIY fall wreath in the colors, textures, patterns and motifs of fall.
  • Switch out your doormat for a fall-themed doormat, which is great for welcoming holiday visitors and wiping off leaf-tramped boots.
  • Use a plaid scarf in fall colors as a table runner or to dress up a mantel.

Ready for Thanksgiving?

Taking inspiration from the classic Thanksgiving color scheme makes it easy to get started on holiday decor and crafts. This doesn't mean that Thanksgiving style is one-size-fits-all, though! Select your favorite color combos from the traditional palette, throw in some neutrals, and be thankful that you have the skills to infuse every project with your own personal style.

Check out this related video from ExpertVillage on Youtube!