Thanksgiving ushers in the holiday season, which means entertaining on a grander scale than usual.

After putting more than a day’s work into Thanksgiving dinner, the final meal presentation should be the holiday climax. That’s why people fuss so much over a table settings and centerpieces.

The Martha Stewarts of the world will be hot-gluing, gold-leafing and faux-finishing something show-stopping for their holiday tables. The rest of us don’t have the time or the talent for such undertakings.

Fortunately, you don’t need expensive materials, craft know-how, or days of lead time for many lovely centerpieces and decorations. Here are some easy ways to brighten your table or buffet.

The Magnolia Connection

Magnolia branches strewn down the table’s center are simple, yet beautiful. Intersperse long, tapered candles in the magnolia garland for a more formal look. If you don’t have a magnolia tree, borrow a clipping from a neighbor. There’s bound to be at least one tree on your block.

An Apple for the Day

Use small red apples to hold tea lights or tapered candles. To hull a well for the tea ligths, use a melon baller; for tapered candles, use an apple corer.

A Basket of Gourds

Buy an assortment of gourds from the Farmers Market or grocery store, and arrange them in a basket or bowl. After Thanksgiving, you can spray paint them gold and use them to decorate for Christmas. Orange pumpkins are classics, but white pumpkins are unusual and elegant. Buy a big one at the Farmers Market, and surround it with ivy clippings from your garden (or your neighbor’s).

Finishing Touches with Ivy

Ivy clippings can also be tied around napkins for napkin rings. Or tie raffia around the napkin, and tuck an ivy leaf in the knot.