Creating a Fall Tablescape Without Breaking the Bank

One of my favorite things about fall is that it marks the beginning of the holiday cooking and entertaining season.  Yes, it can be a lot of work, but I just love welcoming family and friends in to our home to sit around the table and break bread together.  (Not to mention the fact that I love the food!)

Creating a beautiful fall tablescape is just one way I like to make my home feel cozy and welcoming.  But, let’s be real…it can get expensive buying floral arrangements, cloth napkins and matching place settings for every single occasion — especially if you want each table you set to be unique and creative.

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You’ll notice in my tablescape posts that I use a lot of the same things over and over again.   There’s a reason for that.  As much as I’d like to buy new for every table setting I create, it’s just too pricey and impractical so I try to create welcoming tables buying as little as possible.

So, today I’m sharing a few simple tips for creating a fall tablescape (or any tablescape, for that matter) without breaking the bank.

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My list begins with starting from the ground up.  Most of you probably already have dishes, flatware and glasses, but if you’re just starting out or even starting over, I’m including a few ideas for that, too:

You can never go wrong with white dishes

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If I were helping my daughter get started on her own, I would tell her to invest in a set of white place settings. This is something I didn’t do myself until at least 10 years into my marriage.  They are my go-to plates and I am personally ready to upgrade them, but that’s for another discussion!

Why white?  Because they mix and match with other patterns and look great on their own.  They are the perfect basic to have in your cabinet.

If you can’t afford to invest in a really good set, it’s still worth it in my opinion, to at least get a few plates from inexpensive sources like IKEA, Home Goods, etc.  Pottery Barn also has caterers sets that are fairly reasonable for several plates.  It’s so worth it to have a set of white to mix and match for each season with other dishes in your cabinet.

Collect things over time

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You don’t have to have everything all at once.  Buy dishes, glasses, napkins, etc. as you can afford them.  And definitely buy when they’re on sale! (I have been collecting my Spode dishes for several years.)

Shop garage sales, thrift store and estate sales

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This is my favorite tip.  I have added to my collection over the years by purchasing odds and ends at thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales.  The wool plaid throw on the table is from an estate sale.  It was $5!  

Big box stores also have great deals on things that look high end

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Don’t make the mistake of thinking big box retailers like Walmart and other similar stores don’t have anything that looks high end for a low price.  My water glasses are from Walmart – a box of 4 glasses is $5.  Yes, $5!!  People are always surprised to learn where I got them.

Buy things that are neutral and go with any season

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This is a similar tip to owning white plates, but neutrals don’t have to be white, cream or beige.  My brown Spode Delamere transferware is a neutral.  These plates work for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and just about any occasion.  They mix and match well with red, orange, pastels, etc.  I love how well they transition from season to season.  

Shop Your House — mix, match and borrow from what you already own

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I’ve already spoken about this a little when I talked about mixing and matching plates and dishes, but you can also do this with just about everything!  My tablecloth is actually a big roll of linen fabric I plan to use for another project.  But, while it’s sitting there waiting why not use it as a tablecloth?  My velvet pumpkins were placed here and there around my house but I pulled them together to help with my tablescape.  Shop your house, think outside the box!  Normally, I’d never think of using a bucket of pecans as a centerpiece.  My husband filled a bucket from our pecan tree over the weekend and set them on the dining room table.  When I saw it I decided, why not?!  Which leads me to my next point:

Use nature

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The best decorations are free and nature can supply these in abundance.  The leaves are not turning here, but green leaves look every bit as pretty as the colorful ones.  Best of all, they didn’t cost a dime!  

Other items from nature to consider using are: berries, twigs, wildflowers, apples, pears, pecans, acorns, pine cones, sand, etc.

Borrow things from friends and/or family

We can’t always have it all, but it can seem like it when we can borrow things to fill out our table decor.  I do this less and less as my collections grow but when I was younger, borrowing was a necessity.  Even now, there are times when I need something and don’t want to spend the money.  It’s a nice way to fill out your decor while minding the budget.

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Today’s post is part of the monthly tablescape series, “It’s All Set” where I share inspiring tablescapes along with some of my favorite blogging friends.  Please take the time to stop by and visit to see what they’re sharing today — you will not be disappointed!

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Please visit my friends to see the inspiring tables they are sharing this month:

Shabbyfufu

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Lilacs and Longhorns

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Town and Country Living

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Designthusiasm

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Cedar Hill Farmhouse

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Stone Gable

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The Enchanted Home

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13 Responses to Creating a Fall Tablescape Without Breaking the Bank

  1. Gorgeous- like you I am a big fan of brown Spode anything around the fall/winter, it is so elegant and looks great with so many colors. I love your table…beautifully done!

  2. Lanita Anderson says:

    I LOVE your fall tablescape…so simple, yet so beautiful!! Thanks for all of the good tips about setting a table on a budget, as well. So many good, practical ideas!! Happy Wednesday!

  3. love your tips and your table Julie. the pecans in the middle is a great idea.

  4. Julie, I love love love your dining room and the stunning fall tablescape. Every detail is perfectly done! One of the prettiest tables I’ve seen this fall. Your tips are spot on! So fun working with you today, my friend!

  5. Linda says:

    A great job, wise words about using what you have. Love it all.

  6. Janet says:

    I agree Julie and don’t buy much either. Looks gorgeous and so full of fall! xo

  7. Julie, I love your table and I agree with every one of your tips! In fact I just ordered those Spode transferware plates! Expect to see them in a tablescape as soon as they arrive… 😉 I, too, re-use the basics over and over and enjoy the challenge of making them look different. Your table is so lovely and welcoming!!

  8. Ginger says:

    Julie, I took your cue last fall and bought those perfect and affordable scalloped white dishes from Ikea. Then the Spode. They simply and beautifully go with everything! Thanks for the inspiration ❤️

  9. ANITA JOYCE says:

    So pretty Julie. I love your dining room.

  10. Cindy says:

    Such a beautiful table with the neutral elements. I have quite a collection of acorns from our old home. Love them and I sprayed them with poly and they will last. They add so much to my fall décor. Thanks for the inspiration

    Cindy

  11. Sarah says:

    Julie, you have offered excellent advice and shown us a stunning table. I love the neutral and natural feel of this table and your dining room. I totally agree about having a set of white dishes. We have Wedgwood Nantucket for our every day dishes, and our wedding china is a simple white with a band of gold and chocolate brown. Both prove to be a wonderful base to which we can add different salad pates, bowls, etc. I also like the idea of using natural elements. The texture of organic things adds interest and is usually free for the taking. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Julie, I love all your tips! My white dishes are from Walmart. I especially like their Better Homes and Garden line of products. Love your pecan basket with the gorgeous green leaves encircling it!

  13. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Julie, your table is lovely! Just so neat to see how you used the wooden basket with pecans and the leaves as a centre piece! Being a “country gal” at heart, I love the use of natural things. Have a blessed Fall.

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