Tablescaping Chic on the Cheap

Most of us who are decorating on a budget at some point decide to entertain in our homes, and would like to do so with a little pizzazz! Unfortunately, many TV shows and magazines would have you believe you must spend $100 and up (on a budget, they claim) to dress your table for an event. Nonsense! Here are some great ways to create a smashing tablescape using creativity, not cash!

Choose a theme for your table. It could be a color theme, nature, sports, holiday, tea party or a celebration. Use your imagination.

Now create a centerpiece. Remember to keep it low so that people can talk comfortably over it! This is where the most emphasis will be on your table, so put your effort and budget right here! Use cardboard boxes or upside down bowls or pans under a tablecloth to add height to the centerpiece. If you are really looking for drama, create one taller platform, and then several slightly shorter platforms for accent pieces.

Now using your theme, search for things you own or can buy inexpensively to create your piece. Large and small vegetables from the supermarket, clean terra cotta pots filled with flowers, inexpensive glass balls in a bowl, even a football over a draped jersey! (Ok, make sure we’ve cleaned it well, here!) You can add smaller items to the lower platforms if you choose!

Next step is to add candles. You can skip this step if young children will be attending. Candles can be bought quite inexpensively at the dollar store or on clearance. Don’t have any candleholders? No problem! Votives and tea lights can be popped into old teacups, apples can be cored to hold a taper candle, or you can just set pillars and votives on top of an old wall mirror or picture frame used as a tray!

Finally, add some finishing touches. Sprinkle confetti all over the table (can be made with scissors and old colorful magazine pages), lay out pretty stones for a nature theme, print faux sports tickets out on the computer as place cards, wind leftover ribbon through your centerpiece, or sprinkle flower petals all around. Set out your place settings, tie ribbon around the napkins and chair backs, and fold cloth napkins you sew yourself out of scrap fabric to be placed prettily in the water glass.

Most importantly, showcase your creativity, and have a great time with your friends and family!

Copyright 2003 K. Wilson

Kathleen Wilson is the author of Quick Decorating Ideas Under $20:The Budget Decorator’s Bible and Editor of the free ezine, The Budget Decorator. You can find thousands of budget decorating ideas and sign up for her free newsletter at

About Mary Ann

Mary Ann Kelley has been creating meal plans online for over 15 years, first as part of TheHomeSchoolMom's cooking resources for busy moms and later on Menus4Moms, which has been highlighted by "Diner's Journal," The New York Times' Blog on Dining Out, and PBS Parents' "Kitchen Explorer."

Mary Ann loves cooking and she loves planning/organizing, so meal planning is a natural intersection of the two. She believes her mission for the meal plans is being fulfilled when visitors let her know that she has helped them save time and money by teaching them to plan ahead and become more efficient in the kitchen.

When Mary Ann is not cooking, she enjoys reading, researching genealogy, and traveling.

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