Halloween is upon us and Thanksgiving isn’t far behind. If you’re hosting any dinner (or lunch or brunch) parties, you’re probably trying to figure out how to decorate your table. Here are four ideas to help you add some pizazz to your holiday feasts:

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1. The proliferation of jack-o-lanterns and a simple color scheme can make decorating for Halloween pretty easy. Drape your table with a black or white tablecloth, layer on a gold, black or burlap table runner, and scatter some candy down the center of your tabletop. Then arrange a jack-o-lantern or two, along with some plastic spiders, among the candy pieces. Dim the overhead lights a bit, light the pumpkins and canning jars with candles — flameless LED candles are a good idea for this if you have small children or pets — and your table is properly festive.

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2. If you want something a little spookier, you can put down a black tablecloth and then arrange old books of spooky stories — think of authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, Washington Iriving and Shirley Jackson. Stack some skulls, candles (again, flameless LED candles are a good idea) and some decorative jars or bottles on top.

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3. Thanksgiving gives you an excellent excuse to haul out your fancy china. Even if you only have mismatched pieces, you can create an elegant look by mixing them up among each place setting and then tie them all together with matching chargers and napkins. Top each place setting with a tiny pumpkin, arrange some tea lights and small vases with low flower arrangements and you’ll have a cozy and stylish tabletop.

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4. If you want something a little simpler for your Thanksgiving table, using a basket of gourds as a centerpiece is festive and eye-catching, yet minimalist. This time of year, the grocery stores have an abundance for sale. Pick out few different varieties — you want to mix up colors, shapes, textures and sizes for the most visual interest. Pile them in a basket or bowl, arrange a few directly on the table and you’re ready for your harvest feast.

Maria Kovach is an interior designer serving Sun Prairie and Madison, Wisconsin, and the surrounding areas. She specializes in functional design and effortless style for busy families.

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