How to Set An Elegant Holiday Table—for Less

Host your family and friends in style with these smart, budget, table-setting ideas.

By Amy Ahlberg
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    Idea 1: Invest in classic white dishes

    For the biggest bang for your buck and a versatile, timeless look, use classic white dinnerware for both everyday and entertaining. White dishes also show food to its best advantage—which is why the pros use it. You can purchase inexpensive white plates and bowls in complete sets or a few pieces at a time, since whites will always match with other whites. Bonus: It’s easy to replace pieces if they break.

    Source: SheKnows FabulousFoods

    Idea 2: Or pull out your vintage china

    Dinner parties and the holidays are a great time to use your heirloom china—or the mismatched collection of flea market finds you’ve amassed. Tip: When using different sets of dishes on the same table, try to stay within the same color family for the most cohesive results, or unite different patterns by mixing in your white dinnerware for a visual break.

    Source: HGTV

    Idea 3: Skip the fancy flatware

    No one notices, anyway, so press your everyday utensils into use if they’re in good shape. If you need more sets than you own, buy a big batch of discount silverware that you’ll be able to put into service year after year.

    Source: SheKnows FabulousFoods

    Idea 4: Stock up on stemmed glasses

    Buy sturdy, large wine glasses with plain stems. They can be used for red, white, or sparkling wines, and can even serve as water goblets.

    Source: SheKnows FabulousFoods

    Idea 5: Extra water glasses are useful

    Plain 12-ounce water glasses are also a good entertaining investment, and also can be used for room-temperature wine or mixed drinks.

    Source: SheKnows FabulousFoods

    Idea 6: Add a table runner

    A white tablecloth is always classic, but you can add a layer of color and dimension to your table setting by choosing a runner cloth in a contrasting tone or design. Or leave a beautiful, textured wood table bare and simply use a table runner in the center.

    Source: HGTV

    Idea 7: Always add placemats

    Fabric or rattan placemats are an easy way to add a pop of seasonal color or texture. They’re an inexpensive investment, or you can make your own from felt or fabric remnants.

    Source: SheKnows FabulousFoods

    Idea 8: Cloth napkins add extra elegance

    Cloth napkins are one of the most inexpensive ways to instantly dress up your table. Napkin rings aren’t necessary; simply fold napkins or roll and tie with a ribbon and a sprig of green. Tip: If you have time, iron your napkins first for a detail that makes a difference.

    Source: The Kitchn

    Idea 9: Make place cards

    Handmade place cards at each setting cost little but make guests feel special. Simply write names on plain white or colored card stock using a metallic or black pen. For extra color, tuck cards into mini-gourds or apples (cut a slit across the tops first).

    Source: The Kitchn

    Idea 10: Light candles

    Candles and their flickering glow are a low-cost way to add impact and atmosphere. Group pillar candles of different heights for the easiest of centerpieces (be sure to choose unscented candles to avoid clashing with the food).

    Source: The Kitchn

    Idea 11: Make an on-hand centerpiece

    Find serving pieces, vases, pitchers, or bowls from your everyday collection and fill them with flowers, fruits, pinecones, leaves, branches, or your favorite pieces from around the house.

    Source: HGTV

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