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Table Settings on a Budget

Let's face it - having the desire to build a Pinterest-level tablescape and having the resources to build a Pinterest-level tablescape are two very different things. If you're a budget-strapped host (aren't we all?) it's easy to get wrapped up in all the things you could be putting on your table but can't afford to. Let's shift the focus a bit, yes? Here's what you need to know about building an elegant table your guests will love, all without losing an arm or a leg.

Step One: Start With The Basics: You can go a long way towards a gorgeous table with just a few basic items. Look for deals on a set of white dishes and plain cloth napkins. Invest in a set of unbreakable wine glasses or cocktail glasses (not only will they play well with nearly any tablescape, you won't have to worry about the expense of replacing broken items). A good set of white chargers gives you a base for your creativity to run wild. Ground your table with basic items to really let your unique pieces pop.

Go Big on One Item: There's no reason to overspend on dozens of small, intricate pieces. Instead, make a big statement with a single item. A table runner or garland gives great coverage and tons of personality, all in a single purchase. 

Look Outside: There's no end to the direction you can take your tablescape if you look to the outdoors as your guide. We're talking cut flowers (of course), pinecones, acorns, wax dipped leaves, seashells, little bitty bits of pine boughs… Your only limits are the season and your creativity. 

Check Out Secondhand Sources: Why buy new when you can go secondhand? Not only is this choice easier on your wallet (and the environment), it opens up a world of possibilities that you just can't find in your day-to-day shopping. Thrift stores are a great place to start if you're interested in unusual odds and ends. Online sources like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Ebay, or Mercari are full of unexpected finds. If all else fails, check out your mom or grandmother's attic - you never know what treasures are waiting there.

Food Counts Too: Don't forget about the main event! A gorgeous tablescape is there to enhance your guests' experience and entice them to a sumptuous meal. But there's no reason it can't work the other way - gorgeously served meals and drinks can elevate a simple table setting. A carefully crafted charcuterie is a no-brainer here, as are pitchers of pre-made cocktails full of cut fruit or herbs. Think about how the food you're presenting interacts with the colors on the table. Cohesion between dinner and decoration will leave a much bigger impact than emptying your wallet ever could.

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