8 Ideas For Dressing Your Table That Won’t Put A Crimp In Your Budget

dinner table

Winter is here, and it’s time to start getting ready for the busiest entertaining season of the year. As the hostess, it’s important that you’re mindful of all the elements that make an event come together. You know that the right menu can get your guests into the party mood, but don’t forget that fabulous food needs an equally fabulous presentation. Your table should showcase your food so that guests will be tempted to try everything.


The best way to enhance your menu’s mystique is through table decor; but don’t think that finding the perfect elements to decorate your table means having to break the bank. Libby Langdon, host of HGTV’s “Small Space, Big Style,” says think outside the box: “Use unusual items in your home in different ways as serving pieces. Put cherry tomatoes in a vase, stand up your crudites in a glass, use a colorful scarf or wrap as a table runner, use a galvanized paint bucket for ice. Use items that will give your tablet height.”

Libby also recommends covering your table with a tablecloth, because it sets an elegant feel even for a casual evening. And by all means go ahead and use the “good stuff”, like your china, crystal, and glassware. Not only will you make the occasion a memorable one, but you’ll also be doing your part to save the planet by not using paper plates and plastic cups.

In addition to your own treasures, there are some simple, inexpensive touches you can add that will create an ambiance of elegance. Here’s what Libby recommends:

  1. Fall-Themed Cocktail Napkins — Dress up plain paper cocktail napkins by using a large leaf stamp and a gold stamp pad.
  2. Pumpkin Vase — Cut off the top of a small round pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and pulp, place a small plastic cup or paint container inside, and fill the container with floral foam and water.  Arrange seasonal flowers, dried leaves and berries inside the container.
  3. Leaf-Stamped Hurricane Lamps — Glass cleaner completely erases stamp-pad ink from glass surfaces, so dress up your fall table by stamping gold or colored ink with a leaf stamp on glass candle holders.  You can also use everyday drinking glasses and votive candles; it’s a subtle yet elegant touch.
  4. Modern Fall Table Decor — Set lots of tall glass cylinders or vases down the center of your dining table, fill some with pillar candles, fill one with persimmons, one with kumquats, one with tangerines, one with baby artichokes and one with small Seckel pears.  Fill the remaining ones with fall leaves, baby pine cones and tall twigs.
  5. Twig Hurricane Lamps –  Find delicate brown twigs in your yard, attach the twigs to the outside of a hurricane or cylindrical vase using a small amount of hot glue to temporarily hold them in place.  Attach them so that the thicker part of the twig is at the base and the smaller, finer top of the branch goes up to the top of the cylinder. Place them sparingly around the entire cylinder, then secure them by tying twine around them at the base of the cylinder and again about halfway up.  You can use the hot glue again to secure the twine to the twigs. When the season changes, just pull the twigs off; the hot glue will come right off the glass.
  6. Slate Cheese/Chalk Board — Fall is the perfect time for a cheese plate, and you can easily make your own by using a piece of dark charcoal slate from a home improvement store.  Set leaves (paper or real) on the slate and set the different cheeses you’re serving on top of the leaves. Use chalk directly on the slate to label the different cheeses, and wipe clean when finished.  Set a rubber mat or potholder under the slate to keep from scratching your table surface.
  7. Easy, Elegant Orchid Arrangement — There are abundant orchid varieties to choose from and many come in the perfect color tones of fall.  Buy a couple of bunches of orchids in fall colors, separate them, and put a single stem in several cylindrical drinking glasses or champagne flutes.  Put them all down the center of your table in a single line for an up to date, autumn look for your table.
  8. Silverware Ribbon Ties — Group the fork, knife, and spoon together and tie them at the top of the handles with double-faced satin ribbon.  In the tie also include an herb sprig (rosemary, thyme, or sage), a fall leaf, or a cluster of dried lavender. Choose the ribbon in a fall color that will coordinate with your table linens and dishes: chocolate brown, olive green, rusty orange, or a deep russet red are great choices. Set the table with the dinner plates and a simple, rectangular folded napkin on top of the plate, and rest the ribbon tied silverware/herbs on top of the napkin. You can add an extra touch by handwriting place cards to tuck in the herbs.

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