1) Candles & flowers: The two basics you never want to do without. They make any table pretty. Fortunately they’re not expensive either.
2) Pick one or two “stars”: Maybe it’s a beautiful china pattern, a pretty print napkin, or a sparkly napkin ring. Let it be the focal point and let everything else be the supporting cast (i.e. if you use a brightly printed napkin, use white plates).
3) Use low flower arrangements: I still forget to do this! The big bouquets look so pretty in the grocery store, but you’ll end up moving them because people can’t see around them. Try lower pitchers or bud vases, and then use candlesticks for height.
4) Do use place mats or a tablecloth: They provide a critical backdrop, some texture and layering, and ground the table.
5) Shop the discount stores: I think some of the best places to buy fun table items are TJ Maxx housewares, World Market, and Pier One Imports! Any other great stores you’d recommend?
6) Lightweight serving pieces: This past Thanksgiving I decided I was tired of heavy serving bowls and platters that are awkward and difficult to pass. I picked up several inexpensive, oven and dishwasher safe, medium to small ceramic bowls. They moved quickly around the table and I think it made having seconds a much more pleasant proposition!
Let me know if I can help with your decorating needs! 202-905-5369 / firstname.lastname@example.org