Entertaining season is upon us and along with zeroing in on a date and making your guestlist, one of the most exciting parts about entertaining is planning your tablescape decor and menu.
With the cost of just about everything on the rise, your budget may be top of mind this year. So, it’s important to plan your party accordingly so that you don’t break the bank. Here’s how to keep costs low while keeping the look and feel of all your fall events high!
- Mix high and low tablescape pieces
Mix low- and high-end pieces for an intentional look that never looks cheap. First, you’ll want to do some research to decide on the look you want for your table. Head over to your favorite inspirational website and find a look that speaks to you and your event.
Next, decide on your budget and pick one or two things that you are going to splurge on. Commit to doing everything else on the cheap. If you need new cutlery, dishes, or wine glasses, those are typically good items to splurge on because they will elevate the look of your whole table and you’ll use them again and again for years to come.
A great place to save money is on all your trendy, seasonal decor items such as garland or dried or faux flowers and foliage, placemats, charger plates, place cards and place card holders, napkins, candles, candle holders, and more. (See our tablescape ideas below!)
- Get table textiles from a fabric store
For your tablecloth and table runner, forget overpaying at a home goods store and instead visit your local fabric store and get as many yards of fabric to cover your table and something complementary to use as a table runner.
Look for fabrics that don’t fray easily when you cut them but that add some nice texture and dimension to your table. Cheesecloth is a nice natural-looking option for a runner and can be molded to the shape you desire, while cotton and linen both make timeless options that wash well and look warm and sophisticated at once.
- Make your party a full- or partial-potluck
With food costs higher than ever this year, it’s easy to spend a small fortune on a meal. Don’t be shy to make your event a potluck or even a partial potluck dinner party.
To go full potluck, assign each guest a dish to bring and prepare a dish yourself. If you’re worried about dishes clashing, you can add a theme to your dinner party (try Mexican, Italian or soul food) and make sure there are no duplicate dishes ahead of time.
Your other option is to make your event a partial potluck where you—the host—prepares the main and a few side dishes and your guests contribute appetizers, wine, and desserts.
- Choose cheap and cheerful, slow-cooked mains
Your main dish certainly doesn’t have to be expensive cuts of steak or lobster tails, especially with the cost of groceries this year.
With a little planning and preparation, you can save a considerable amount of money by buying cheaper cuts of meat that transform into seriously impressive main courses after an afternoon of slow-and-low cooking.
Here are some of our favorites, including plant-based options:
- Braised chuck roast beef
- Beef bourguignon with beef chuck
- Braised lamb shank or lamb shoulder
- Osso buco with beef shanks instead of veal shanks
- Braised chicken thighs
- Skirt steak sliced thinly with a chimichurri sauce or for tacos and fajitas
- A whole-roasted chicken
- Vegetarian: Mushroom risotto (option to add truffle oil)
- Vegetarian: Kung Pao tofu
Try these 10 budget-friendly tablescape ideas for your next party:
- Start with a fabric runner over your tablecloth or directly on your table and treat it as your tablescape canvas. (Remember to shop these at a fabric store!)
- Arrange some dried or faux foliage, flowers, or a garland along the length of your runner. Bright-colored faux maple stems are a great addition to a natural, neutral autumn table.
- For a warm, glowy ambiance, add small twinkle lights, candle sticks, tealights, or battery-powered candles interspersed among the leaves and branches.
- Sprinkle metallic sparkles or fake snow over top.
- Add pinecones, wicker balls, and real or fake mini pumpkins and gourds to your centerpiece—these can also be spray painted, glitter-dipped, or bedazzled.
- Select natural charger plates such as super-trendy rattan and switch it out for something more glitzy come Christmas.
- Make your own place cards by turning small “thank you” cards inside out and writing on them or tie wood medallions around cloth napkins and either carve, paint, or write your guests names on them. You can also hand-paint names on small smooth stones and place them on top of cloth napkins in the center of your plates.
- Before buying anything new, always shop your own home first—you’ll be surprised at the things you forgot you had!
- Instead of buying new, consider thrifting for a few eclectic and antique touches. Candlestick holders, vases, decanters, salt and pepper shakers, and butter dishes all make charming table decor.
- Collect tablescape items from the great outdoors such as colorful fall leaf stems, evergreens, autumn berries, pussy willows, pampas, mums, and sunflowers. Just be sure to give them a good shake and clean before adorning your table with them.
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