I love to set a beautiful table! Seriously, I think out how to dress the table before even figuring out a menu for my dinner party. But setting a formal table does not have to equate dollar signs. There are so many ideas to curb the cost or even use items that you probably already own. Below are a few of my favorite tips for setting a beautiful table on a budget:
1. Buy fabric by the yard instead of a tablecloth.
This is my first and favorite tip. Tablecloths can be really expensive and if you have a large table like I do, the price tag can be hefty. I prefer to purchase fabric by the yard and either hem it later or just leave as is. Last week I shared a picture of some of my latest fabric finds on my Instagram account.
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2. Use good quality faux plants from around the house and skip the fresh flowers.
I LOVE real flowers and I use them when I can but there is no doubt that they raise the cost of setting a pretty table. If you do purchase a small bouquet you can place one flower bud in separate little vases or cups down the center of your table. But to avoid buying flowers altogether, bring in good quality faux plants from around the house and use as a centerpiece.
3. Make your dessert the centerpiece.
A pretty cake on a pedestal or cupcakes on a tiered server can also be a great centerpiece. Pretty, practical and skip the peonies!
4. Add a pop of color with a salad plate or a soup bowl.
White dishes are my absolute favorite. Investing in one set of simple white plates can be inexpensive and so versatile. I would rather add a pop of color using a pretty napkin or a salad plate that I can rest on top. I found these salad plates at Homegoods and I paired them with these white plates that I have had for many years and these light gray napkins that are my new favorite.
5. Add a napkin ring or create your own.
Since I love setting a table, I have collected quite a few dinner party items over the years. If you are only going to have one set of napkin rings, purchase a set that is simple and will go with any color place setting. If you don’t own napkin rings or want a unique alternative – I love using thyme or rosemary as an accent on top of the napkin. Depending on the strength of the thyme, you can even tie it around your napkin like a ring, but I also love the simplicity of a sprig of rosemary resting on a napkin.
6. Print and cut your own place cards.
I didn’t use place cards in this table setting but I usually use them to avoid the confusion of where to sit. Using place cards may sound a bit restrictive or formal but they actually help to avoid that moment where as a guest you have no idea where to sit. You can even use the tines of the fork to hold your simple place card.
7. Invest in cloth napkins.
Cloth napkins definitely make a table setting more special. I probably have 15 sets of different color napkins and I rarely pay more than 1.00 per napkin. If you want your napkins to last and you don’t want to fuss with them too much, always keep in mind what you are serving when choosing the color napkin. If you are serving something with a red sauce, chose a dark color napkin to avoid ruining your light yellow ones with tomato stains.
8. Use white candles inside clear votives to add drama and romance to your table.
This is one of my favorite ideas, especially for events in the evening. If you cluster lots of white candles, they can double as a centerpiece. You can also sprinkle a few around your decorated table as a finishing touch. Keep in mind that your candles should be unscented so that they are not competing with the aroma from your meal.
There are so many options and ideas that keep the cost low and the style high at your next dinner party. What are some of your favorite tips for setting a pretty table?