Thursday, December 22, 2011

Affordable Tablescape Tips and Ideas

I've seen a lot of frantic Tweets and Facebook status updates this week from people across the web who find themselves planning last minute holiday meals. Many of us (myself included) struggle with creative tablescapes that are both affordable and doable. I invited my fellow Centsational Girl Contributor, Courtney from Courtney Out Loudto put together some Tablescape Tips and Ideas.

Please welcome Courtney!

I think creating a beautiful table is part of the "gift" you are giving your guests at a meal. A wonderful tablescape enhances the mood as well as works to elevate the overall experience of the food being consumed. The tablescapes I do for myself and clients are meant to be dramatic but none of them are out of your reach.

Laying out a tablescape is very much like designing a room: you need a color story, strong foundational pieces as well as accessories and accents that support your overall theme. Here are some quick rules that I follow when putting together a tablescape in my home:

Think About What You Already Have: When I go shopping, I think about the decorations I already have when deciding what to purchase. Groupings of similar objects, whether they be by color, shape or material create a larger impact than a single object. Do you already have two glass candlesticks and see one on sale? Buy it, even if it doesn’t match! It will be worth the investment when are able to pick and choose from a variety of candlesticks of vary heights to create a layered look.

The crystal candlesticks I used in my New Year's Eve tablescape from last year were part of my hodge podge collection. Whenever I see one candlestick on sale, I pick it up and add it to the collection. When grouped together, they create a dynamic centerpiece.

Borrow From Your Momma: Don’t be above using other people’s stuff to create a show stopping table. Have you been coveting your sister’s Waterford glasses and have an important dinner coming up? Borrow them! No one has to know that they aren’t yours. Just remember that when you borrow someone’s precious and undoubtedly expensive table items, you incur the risk of breakage. So go by the rule, if you can’t afford to replace it, then you shouldn’t borrow it.

For my very first tablescape, I borrowed elements like the wicker balls from my friend because I didn't want to invest in something I was not going to use down the line. The wicker balls added a nice rustic touch to the table and cost me nothing but a slice of leftover pumpkin pie as a thank you.

It Doesn’t Have to Match: People get hung up on sets and I am here to tell you, get over it! You don’t need to have a matching set of anything to have a dynamo table. I tend to buy in sets of 2,3 or 6 when shopping for plates, glasses or table settings since the maximum amount of people my table holds is 6. By shopping in these increments, I can mix and match patterns to create interesting color, pattern and texture stories which look intentional. Second, if something breaks, it’s no biggie because I am not worried about it being a set; it’s just now an accent piece in my growing collection.

Notice that nothing in this tablescape matches, not even the chairs, but everything works together. The trick is making sure that the colors are complimentary and the shapes are similar. In doing so, you fool the eye to see unity and harmony where there is none.

Floral Arrangements Aren’t Central: I tend to shy away from expensive centerpieces for my table settings. Aside from the expense, I never know what to do with it the next day so I opt often to use house plants. Yup – house plants. However, that doesn’t mean simply throwing your fern into the center of the table and calling it a day. Layer in found objects from around your home and maybe one type of flower in low vases to give the centerpiece depth and interest. Personally, I tend to have orchids around my home so I just swap out their pots for pretty bowls or glass candle votives, add some rocks and moss – BAM instant centerpiece.

The only flowers on this table are carnations I picked up at the local grocery store on sale. The story is being told by the deep color of the table linens and dishware while the flowers are merely an accessory.

Decorating a table doesn't need to be a crazy process . Simply use what you have, borrow from others when you need more, repurpose from other areas of your home and don't over think flower arrangements to have a stress-free and beautiful holiday.

Again, thanks to Amanda for inviting me over to the blog and sharing the love.

Happy Holidays!!!!!

Isn't Courtney's work stunning? I love the mix of color, pattern, and texture. It is such a relief to hear that beautiful tablescapes don't need to be pricey. You still have plenty of time to put together a lovely table to impress your guests!

An extra big thank you to Courtney for putting together this post for me. If you haven't stopped by Courtney Out Loud yet, you need to make it a stop on your daily tour of the blogosphere. Courtney is witty, stylish, and thrifty. I can't really like of a better combination! His blog is brimming with insightful tips and beautifully photographed projects. Please tell him I sent you!

*NOTE: There will be no Weekend Bloggy Reading link party this weekend. I hope we can all take the weekend to enjoy this beautiful Christmas season with family and friends! The link party will resume next Friday, December 30th, as usual!


  1. I love the idea of considering the table setting as a gift to the people who will be gathered around it. If I think of it in that way, I'm prompted to use what I have in new and creative ways that will demonstrate love and care. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Courtney always creates a beautiful tablescape! In a pinch I used varied clear wine, martini, margarita glasses filled with cranberries and white tealights, stagger them on a piece of mirrored glass down the center of the table and they are stunning!

  3. So many beautiful ideas! I love that she shared a table with mixed matched pretty!

  4. Get out! Two of my favorite people on earth come together to bring tablescape inspiration!! I'm all aglow... thanks to you Amanda for featuring Courtney, and to you Courtney, for your sage advice and impeccable taste.

  5. Great ideas! Making the table look "just right" is something that I like to do. I always notice table details and appreciate special touches that my hosts add to make the evening special.

  6. Great tablescapes! I agree with some of the other posts...the white wreaths were great centerpieces (very creative). Thanks for the inspiration.


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