Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Creating An Elegant Holiday Table for Under $50!

After nearly 30 years of marriage, my stash of Christmas decorating supplies has seen better days.  That is truly putting it kindly. So, my son, Daniel, and I decided to update our look. We challenged ourselves to set an elegant table for a special candlelight Christmas Eve dinner and to do it on a tight budget. 

Our color scheme: white, gold, and silver with a splash of black and blue.

 Our wish list:  dessert plates
                         dinner plates
                         a table runner
                         all the decorations

Our budget:  $50.00!  

Come along on our journey to see how we did it!

STORE #1:  Mission Mart

I LOVE the Mission Mart! All the proceeds stay in our local area and support our local ministry, helping the poor on the South Side. They have a shelter for homeless women and children, a summer camp, a culinary school, a soup kitchen, and a multitude of programs for young people. Whew!

So, when they had the Mission Mart had their annual holiday open house, Daniel and I headed over for hot apple cider, cookies, and half priced Christmas items.

The Mission Mart "haul":  

  • A set of 10 antique Currier and Ives small plates in perfect condition - $5.00
  • A set of  2 Currier and Ives servers (matching the small plates) - $2.00 
  •  6 gold candle holders - $3.00
  • White and gold poinsettia swag - $2.00
  • A set of 3 large, white and gold ornaments (brand new in the box) - $3.00
  • 1 string of lights - $1.00
  • A set of 7 plastic snowflakes with white and light blue accents - $3.50
  • A bag of assorted metal bells, beads, and ornaments - $1.25
TOTAL                                                                                                                           $20.75


My love affair with Dollar Tree continues.  See this post for my review of items you don't want to miss buying at your local Dollar Tree.  When we visited to gather materials for our Christmas table decorating challenge, Dollar Tree did not disappoint.  

Given my self-imposed strict budget, I fully expected to need to use paper or plastic plates for this challenge. But, no! Lo and behold, right as I entered the store I spied a rack of actual white glass plates with gold rims for a buck each! I bought eight of them. The shiny gold table runner was also an excellent find.  

My only concession in this process was the paper napkins. I really wanted cloth napkins. But, even given my propensity for "praying in" items that I need, I just couldn't believe that I would find eight matching cloth napkins at a second hand store before December 25th. So, I bought paper. Sigh!

The Dollar Store "haul"

  • A table runner - $ 1.00
  • A set of 8 white plates with gold trim - $ 8.00
  • 1 package of black napkins -  $ 1.00
TOTAL:                                                                                             $10.00


These were the supplies for the DIY napkin rings.  See this post for a tutorial. 

  • Sparkly silver washi tape - $ 2.00
  • 1 1/2 inch decorative ribbon - $ 1.25
 TOTAL:                                                                                         $ 3.25



We found surprisingly little that we were interested in purchasing.  However, we did two rolls  of sparkly gold ribbon garland  for $1.00 each. 

TOTAL:                                                                                          $2.00

The GRAND Total:       $36.00! 

Let's see how we put it all together!

We used every single item we bought except the string of Christmas lights.  Since they were colored lights and not just plain white lights, I just couldn't find a way to incorporate them into the theme.  But, I'm keeping them.  Who knows, maybe next year I will be struck with sudden inspiration. 

The Diningroom before our Yuletide transformation:  

And now... After! 



1.  Incorporate vintage Items.  

I just love to own things with a story behind them!  People joke that it takes hours to see my house the first time you are invited over, because you have to hear the story behind each item as you make your way through every room. 

If you have some vintage holiday aprons from Aunt Ginny, display them on hooks in the kitchen.  How about embroidered Christmas doilies, quilts, or table runners from Grandma?   Think outside the box.  I had a friend who used a vintage red and green quilt as a tablecloth and it was stunning.  If you have something you LOVE, figure out how to use it! 

Here I put some black tinsel in the bottom of a cut glass compote dish (for contrast) and then added antique ornaments.  I picked ornaments within our chosen color palette.  I also tied a bow around the base and hung smaller ornaments at intervals around the perimeter of the bowl.  

2.  Look on-line for ideas.  

Pintrest proved to be quite helpful in this process.  We looked at a ton of themes, colors, and patterns before narrowing down exactly what we wanted to do. You can even track your ideas on your own Pintrest board. 

3.  Buy Used.  

I've long been a proponent of "you don't need to spend a million bucks to look like you do."  Second-hand stores nearly always put Christmas items on sale for half price sometime during the Christmas season.  Christmas in July is also a popular sale for these stores.  While you are doing the decorating (or putting everything back away after Christmas) it helps to make a written list of items that you really feel you'd like to add to next year's decorating and keep it where you can find it.  That way you can shop with a purpose, instead of just browsing.  See this post for my top 10 tips for thrift store shopping. 

 4.  Don't be afraid to mix and match.  

Pick one or two items or arrangements as a focal point and then plan your theme around those things.  As long as the "theme" remains consistent, it's all good.  Patterns, materials, and shapes can all be varied to add interest and dimension. I always pause about every 30 minutes while decorating and stand back.  I view the room from all sorts of angles.  Sometimes you see things that are sticking out at a weird angle or don't look quite right when you do this. 

5.  Love what you have.  

I bought the small tree in the corner on clearance from Big Lots last year for  $3.40.  It may have been about 95% off of the original price, but if I am honest, I will say that it looked a little (well, actually a LOT) like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree before the ornaments and garland went on, but the finished product made a nice little accent piece.  Just don't lean too hard on it or that baby will hit the floor with a thud!  We had to weight the bottom with heavy books to stabilize it!  It may not make the "cut" for next year's display if I can find a replacement at a thrift store that is a little more aesthetically pleasing and with better balance. 
This may be the precise reason that the little tree in the corner may be donated to some deserving thrift store.  It functions as a tree.  But, if I have to wrestle it into shape each year, I know that I won't use it.  

If you keep what you like, you will use it again and again.  If you hate it, you will resent getting it out of storage every year.  Get rid of the items that don't give you joy!   

 6. Embrace the season of life that you are in.  

When my children were small, I determined to enjoy every single season of life with them.  If you are in a season of raising babies or caring for aging relatives, you don't have to go all out on decorating.  It's okay.  I hereby absolve you of all guilt.  Pick a couple of really important traditions and do your best to keep them.  (Here's my post on free or nearly free Christmas traditions).  If you don't have three days to do the decorating, don't plan to recreate the entire nativity on your front lawn.  Plan something that looks elegant and yet takes little time.  You can always add more in consecutive years. 

I'd love to see photos or hear about your Holiday decorating.  Leave comments and pictures below.

Don't Miss Any of Our Posts! 

Follow us:  

On Facebook at 

Receive posts via e-mail by filling in the "follow by e-mail" link on the main page.  

On Youtube  at: 

On Twitter at: 

On Instagram at:

Have a blessed, peace-filled, Christ-centered holiday season!



  1. How lovely! You do so much with your wonderful discoveries.

  2. Thanks so much, Jane! Buying used is like a treasure hunt! It's so much fun when you find something that is just perfect for a bargain price.