How to Decorate your Table on a Budget

Inexpensive and beautiful centerpieces

Budget Table Centerpiece
Budget Table Centerpiece. Photo: Sandra H.

Whether or not you are entertaining, you want your table to look its best. A beautiful table doesn't have to be expensive. Budget table decorations can look fabulous. A few simple rules - with the emphasis on simple - will help you turn a plain table into a work of budget decorating art.

  1. Odd Number. Always include an odd number of flowers, candles, or vases in your centerpiece. The odd number is more pleasing to the eye and create a sense of balance. Group the three objects together or separate them for symmetry. You can also try arranging something in three varying heights too; this is especially great if you have high ceilings or need something tall.
  1. Vary. Remember that every centerpiece has dimensions - height, width, depth. Most centerpieces should be tall in the center and working lower and outward toward the edges. You'll have to judge your own centerpiece to see if this will work for your setting. You could also include your food as part of the centerpiece or table design. This works especially well if you wish to do more of a casual buffet style meal or want to keep certain dishes within easy reach of your guests. This also works well for large holiday meals and can help keep traffic from going in and out of the kitchen.
  2. Don't Strand. Don't strand a single item such as a vase or candle in the center of a long table. Arrange smaller objects along its length to make the whole table more cohesive. It's all about balance: a small round table could easily have a single rose in a vase but move that vase to a long table and it will become lost. Consider the scale of your table as it relates to the objects on it.
  1. Sight. Make your centerpiece low enough that guests on each side of the table can see over it and converse. There is nothing worse than trying to talk to somebody through the greenery. Some hosts even create a centerpiece, place it on the table and actually sit in the chair to see if they can comfortably look across the table. 
  1. Simplicity. Simplicity is always best in centerpieces. Don't overwhelm the table (and the dinner) with too much "stuff." It's a good idea to lay out placemats or actually pre-set the table so you leave enough room for what's actually needed (like glasses, salt and pepper, service pieces, etc.). The centerpiece should accommodate the necessary objects too.
  2. Fruit and Veggies. For a simple centerpiece, place fruit or vegetables in a pretty bowl - fresh and edible! Simple objects, like fruit, really look best when you pile many of them together so consider purchasing them in bulk. Shop seasonally so you keep your costs down. You could also focus on shapes like all rounded objects (melons, oranges, etc.) or curvy pieces (like gourds, eggplants, etc.). 
  3. Single Color. If you are unsure of what colors should be used in the centerpiece, go monochromatic and use versions of a single color. Monochromatic looks modern and elegant and is actually really easy to throw together at the last minute. That being said, keeping a neutral backdrop (like white) and using one pop of color can be really successful too. 

Now you have the perfect table with decorations on a budget! What are you going to make for the perfect dinner?