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Trends in Thanksgiving decor

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There are a lot of great things about Thanksgiving: good food (like my family's favorite turkey recipe), quality time with family and a little bit of time off work.

In addition to all the obvious perks, one of my favorite things about the holiday is the decorating that goes along with it. It's a chance to dress up my home and show it off in a way I don't normally get to.

If you're like me, you know it can be tough to navigate the holiday decor trends. You want your home to look festive, not cheesy, and don't want to take away from the everyday design elements you've worked hard to implement in your space.

Fortunately, decorating for Thanksgiving doesn't mean turning your home into a modern-day pilgrim village. If cornucopias and giant turkeys aren't your thing, check out some of the chic design trends that are hot for Thanksgiving 2012.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Natural elements. Conjure up the feeling of the first Thanksgiving without setting the table outside. Instead, bring nature in with things like branches, leaves and pinecones. Create simple centerpieces by bundling these elements together with twine or displaying them in a clear vase in the middle of the table. I use branches from my 50-foot tall blue spruce in my front yard. It makes the whole house smell good.

To create lasting holiday memories, create a "Thanksgiving Tree." Place one large branch, or a collection of a few smaller branches, in a vase. Give each guest a piece of colored paper and ask them to write down something their thankful for. Hang these thank-yous from the branches to create a focal point that will remind you and your guests of all the good things about life.

Double-duty decor. Why not re-use some of those Halloween decorations? While witches and ghosts probably won't work for Thanksgiving, pumpkins, dried corn and colored gourds certainly will. Use small pumpkins instead of place cards to indicate where guests should sit. Simply tie a card with the guest's name around the stem of the pumpkin and place on the plate.

Try using white or yellow pumpkins instead of orange to keep things interesting. The combination of a simple centerpiece and pumpkin placeholders makes for a striking Thanksgiving table. And to keep little kids amused while the turkey is cooking, I'll often have an extra bag of mini pumpkins for them to decorate with colored pens. It's a nice reminder of the day and keeps them occupied when your attention may be on the stove.

Simple and stress-free. I have a set of absolutely beautiful crystal and china that I love to use for holidays. Unfortunately, all of it — plates, cups, glasses, and the gravy bowl — must all be washed by hand. My kids will tell you that's bad news when we're serving dinner for 30 guests, since they're the ones who end up on dirty-dish detail. Sometimes I feel like china and crystal are just more stress than the memories from using them are worth (the crystal was a wedding gift from my late Grandma Betty).

It appears other homeowners feel the same way. One of my favorite trends this season is the simplicity of the dining table. Use plain white dishes and dress them up with colorful placemats, napkins or even glassware. For a pop of color, head to a local discount store and find salad plates in classic fall colors like brown, orange or gold. Even plastic plates will work — with the right napkins and centerpiece, no one will even notice.

In my house, Thanksgiving is all about the stuffing.

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.

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