From Drab to Fab: Table Decor on a Budget

From adding to the ambiance to sparking conversation, there is just something inviting about a wow-worthy table arrangement!  The next time you sit down to prepare your grocery list, consider how your dinner table can bring your family closer together simply by your centerpiece.  Whether you’re keen on rustic elegance, a twist of modern, or tailored chic, you can keep your table looking great without breaking the bank.  Not too girly and not too “granny,” these six charming yet simple ideas are husband-approved, kid-tested, budget-friendly, and take your dinner table from Drab to Fab in no time!

Before the decorating begins, think about inviting your whole family to join in on the fun.  From your handyman husband, to your paint-anything-in-sight toddler, to your creative, budding teenager, gather the family together to create a table that represents your family’s faith and personality.  Not only will you be adding a pop of color and spice to your home during the wintry months by dressing up your table,  but you will also be teaching spiritual lessons along the way about faith, family, and the contagious gift of hospitality (Deut 6:7; Rom 12:13;  Josh 24:15).


Classic Charm

Big blossoms like hydrangeas, peonies, garden roses, and allium look gorgeous displayed in an unused serving piece, like a teapot.  A timeless centerpiece, floras add simple elegance to the table without much effort. Don’t have a sterling silver or gold serving piece?  Not to worry.  Simply stop by your local Goodwill and rummage through the home-goods section.  Look for timeless treasures like gold, silver, vintage, and glass pieces, whether vases, soup tureens, or a fabulous gold-plated dish with raised legs. After selecting the perfect container, run to your favorite grocery store, or better yet find a nearby fresh flower market, and select four or five eye-popping blossoms of your choice.  Cut the steps 1-2 inches while underwater, remove any leaves that fall below the waterline, arrange in your charming container—and voila—a classic charm that brings color and warmth to your home.


Wishing Well

Grab your most colorful cardstock paper, a fistful of markers, and your kids to make a wishing well of sorts: your own well of prayers.  Cut the cardstock paper into strips and have your kids write down the names of missionaries and the countries they are serving in bold and creative fonts. At your next meal, spend some time praying aloud for the missionaries as they share the love of Christ to the natives.  To make it more personal, consider adopting several missionary families that are affiliated with your local church and pray for them at every meal.  Not only will this centerpiece add a personal and heartfelt touch to your table, your kids will learn the importance family prayer.


Rustic Romance

Have leftover logs from the fireplace? Elicit your husband’s or boyfriend’s handyman skills for this next centerpiece idea.  Ask him to saw and sand two or three logs into several smaller logs of varying heights (no taller than four inches). Arrange the logs into a circle on your table and place tealight candles on each stump.  For a romantic touch, carve your and your husband’s initials into the flat surface of the shortest stump as a small token of appreciation for his hard work.  Your kids might gush at the sight, but your significant other will appreciate the sentiment.


Tray of Treats

Grab a jewel-toned charger plate (think emerald, amethyst, gold) and three to seven candles of various heights and sizes.  If you do not have charger plates or candles, run to the nearest Hobby Lobby store and stock up!  Charger plates are cheap and they add a simple elegance to the table, as do candles.  (Stocking up on timeless pieces plus supporting a store standing for Christian values is a win for everyone!)  Arrange the candles on the charger plate as desired.  To give your centerpiece a touch of flair, consider adding a few brightly colored broaches from your jewelry box, prized figurines from your husband’s hunting collection like tiny silver-plated deer or ducks, or wrap the candles with the ribbon of the season: beautiful burlap. Resist the urge to tie a bow; simply wrap the ribbon in the middle of the candle like a belt and secure with a hot glue gun.   Fill in the empty space with pinecones from your yard or leftover greenery from Christmas.

Natural Pairing

The next time you and your kids take a walk through the neighborhood or during a midnight stroll with your mate or date, take along a bag to collect a handful of colorful leaves and nuts, such as pecans and walnuts.  When you’re ready to create your centerpiece, gather five to six pieces of fruit (apples or pears work best).  Using a fruit candle carver (found at most craft stores) or a carving knife, trace the outline of a tealight around the top of the fruit.  Carefully carve the section out; the tealight should sit securely inside the fruit with the top edge of the candle flush with the top of the fruit.  Then, take a plank of wood, fencepost or a long and narrow serving dish and arrange the collected leaves, alternating the direction of each leaf.  Next, set your fruit on top of the leaves in a straight line.  Fill in the empty spaces with a mixture of walnuts, pecans, or even frozen cranberries.


Frayed Fabrics, Trending Textiles

Take several Styrofoam balls and cover them with strips of your favorite fabrics, securing the ends with a hot glue gun. If you don’t have a bin of scrap fabrics from previous crafting projects, most craft stores like Hobby Lobby have a scrap bin of clearance fabrics.  Be creative and choose a color palette that fits you and your family’s style.  Whether a neutral palette of denim, greys, blues, and white or a bright printed palette of trending chevron, turquoise, coral, and charcoal, play around with colors and patterns.  The possibilities are endless!  Toss the decorative balls in an iron-wrought basket for a cozy and casual centerpiece that can change with the seasons.


Final tips to a great centerpiece

Be mindful of fragrances that accompany floras, candles, and store-bought pinecones.  It is best to choose non-scented or vanilla candles and forgo the heavily-scented naturals as a courtesy to your family and guests.  Also, make sure that your centerpiece is not too tall that your guests cannot see across the table.  Finally, when using candles and antique pieces, make sure your creation is secure and not easily tipped over when food is being passed around the table.  And don’t forget to light your candles before each meal!

Whatever your style or budget, your tablescapes can bring warmth and livelihood to your dinner table.  Gather the whole family and let each member contribute to a piece of the project.  Have fun and get creative by experimenting with textures, colors, and using what you have at home to create beautiful centerpieces that reflect your family’s faith and personality to all who sit and eat at your table.  The rewards? You will get the opportunity to teach the gift of hospitality with your children.  Your kids will enjoy the creative family time, and your mate will appreciate the thoughtfulness of being asked to use his gifts and talents too.  Here’s to making your house a home.