Ok, I admit it. I'm not a great cook. But I love hosting dinner parties. For me, it's all about the table.
Whether it's a wedding, a New Year's Eve Party, or an informal gathering by the pool on a steamy summer day, my tablescape tells my guests they're in for something special. But here's the secret; half the fun is seeing how little I can spend without compromising the wow factor.
Hey, that's cheating!
Here are 10 answers to the dinner party test.
1. Color Coded
I'm a frequent flyer at home decor and discount stores. When I see something on sale, I buy up a bunch of it, especially after the holidays. I keep colors--golds, silvers, reds, blues, greens--that I can use year round in mind. A burst of the same color packs a punch. For this NYE party, gold was the star. See the gold sashes on the chairs? Scarfs to be used for gift wrapping. Fifty cents each at an after-Christmas sale. Boom!
2. Cheaper Buy the Dozen
This was a lesson learned for me; I bought those gold flutes at a party supply store. I paid 99 cents each. Not a bank buster. But if I was willing to settle for clear gold vs opaque, I could have got a package of 18 for $9.99; half the cost.
3. Cut from the Same Cloth
I found this tablecloth perusing around a home decor store after the holidays. In the package, it was meh. But as a backdrop, I knew it would be perfect. The metalic gold dots that created the design were repeated in the round sparkly sequins in the table runner. A brilliant partnership--literally.
4. Not too Matchy-Matchy
I had exactly 6 white upholstered chairs and 9 guests. To avoid playing musical chairs, I pulled a couple wooden chairs from the other room; the gold sash pulled them all together. Though not visible in the pic, the sash was woven around the spindles to make a high impact line of bows around the table.
Now for the Deets
Zooming in--let's take it down to the individual setting, starting at the top:
5. All that Glitters
I'm amazed at how far glitter will get you. It's super cheap and tons of fun. The pastry dish at the top is woven with a heavily glittered ribbon. I got that dish at an after-Christmas sale discounted because it had green and red plaid ribbon in it. But I replaced the ribbon at near-to-no cost. I intend to switch out the ribbon every chance I get until my guests start to say, "What the Heck! How many of those dishes do you own?" teehee. BTW: Look closely under the fork. That's glitter. As I was weaving the heavily dosed ribbon through the slats in the dish, glitter got all over the table, sprinkling magic everywhere. By the time we started eating, everyone had a little sparkle on their faces. You're welcome.
6. Cone of Silence
I've loved those swirly things that french fries are served in since the moment I saw one. I bought 5 of them when I finally found them in a discount store. I look for excuses to use them. Here I served snacks in them; buscotti, homemade peanut brittle, wafer cookies, you name it. With something this fun, anything goes. I use specialty card stock for a lot of things. Here I bought gold glitter card stock folded to make the cone. I lined them up on a side table like scrumptious soldiers. You bet they got attention!
7. ...Over the Candlestick
I went crazy over these candles, searching all over the store for the second one to make a pair. (2 for the price of 1 sale? Oh yeah baby!) I placed them each in a $5.00 mini trifle serving dish. Remember, I don't cook. What else would I use them for? The candles were metalic with gold glitter-no brainer. Notice the gold balls (repeating gold dots) around the candle? I'd love to say I planned that, but the truth is, the gold poinsettias (another after Christmas sale find) had branches with gold accents. I was rough with them and pulled some off by mistake. Oops, happy accident. Notice they match the gold beads on the NYE horns. ($1.00 each)
8. Golden Rings
These were my fav. I simply took inexpensive wooden napkin rings that I bought a few years ago at a discount store and wrapped them with the super-glitter ribbon. I used 2 dabs of hot glue, one at the beginning of the wrap and one at the end, to hold the ribbon in place. More glitter on the table. Then, a really lucky find, I glued a flat, gold glitter, plastic Christmas tree ornament onto the ring. So cheap! But the best part... the pattern. Notice how the pattern of the ornament resembles the pattern on the tablecloth? YES! Bonus!
Chargers make the place setting more important, like a frame for a great photo. You can get them pretty cheap in a lot of places now. They're plastic, but who cares when they run about a buck a piece? Get 12 of every color! But if you care what they're made of, you can buy metal ones that will run you about $20-$30 each and up.
10. Who is on First?
Who does place cards anymore? I do! Not just for weddings, I resurrected the old table card trick. Not only does it eliminate the question "Where do you want me to sit?," it actually excited the guests to walk around looking at all the names to find their own. In this example, I used a gold paint pen to add names, but you can choose a cool font and print names from the computer. Go crazy with graphics to further support the theme. Seeing their name in print will make each guest feel welcomed. Use them as a way to sit two people together who you know will hit it off. It really amps up the vibe!