Do you ever swoon over magazine photos of gorgeous seasonal table decor, with linen napkins and maple leaf branches and hand-thrown pottery? (If Wyatt is reading this, I already know his answer – but I totally do!) I’m not one to spend a ton of time on table settings – just getting a dinner cooked that everyone will eat is challenging enough. However, sometimes I want to set a beautiful table for guests or holidays, or just to see if I can pull it off. Today I’m sharing a ideas for affordable, seasonal table decor, to help you set a beautiful table for your next special meal. With holidays around the corner and more time together at home, this feels like the year for it.
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1 – Get Out the “Good Stuff” for Seasonal Table Decor
To start, it helps to have some elements on hand that you love using at special meals. The “good stuff” doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or heirloom; I’m just talking about your favorite pieces. These could be season-specific, or neutrals that can be used throughout the year, depending on what lights your fire. Having a set of items that you like to display makes it easier to set a special table.
I think about my table in these categories: linens, dishes, glasses, utensils, and serving dishes + utensils. We have some lovely pieces that were wedding gifts and others that I’ve collected from the Target dollar bin. There’s no need to spend a fortune on Waterford crystal – you can set a beautiful table with very affordable pieces, or haunt thrift stores, estate sales, or eBay to score vintage deals.
> My Favorite Affordable Turkish Towels <
2 – Let One Festive Element Shine
Since we have a rainbow of Fiestaware, I usually pick a holiday color scheme and set the table around that. However, when this plaid tablecloth jumped in my cart at Target last month, I decided to branch out and invest in a few affordable and coordinating new pieces. As you know from our living room, the blue and rust color combo is my jam, so I’m hardly twisting my own arm here.
> Affordable (+ Free!) Ideas for Fall Decor <
I researched affordable neutral plates, which we can use year-round, and settled on this line from Hearth & Hand at Target. I bought dinner plates, salad plates, and small bowls in the sour cream (white) colorway, and so far, I’m a big fan! While I can’t speak to their durability yet, the line is both relatively inexpensive and gorgeous. Each piece is uniquely glazed stoneware and they bring a rustic elegance to the table.
By the way, I set this table in a few different ways because I can’t decide how I like it best! That’s why you’ll see different arrangements here. It also shows the flexibility of having mix-and-match pieces.
Here is our seasonal table decor from Target:
3 – Save, Don’t Splurge, on Table Linens
Some items are worth a splurge, but in my opinion, it’s not the linens. I can see the point of investing in gorgeous sheets, but why spend a ton of cash on fabric that is literally used to wipe marinara off your hands? When it comes to placemats, runners, tablecloths, and napkins, the linens are definitely on my “save” list. That also makes it possible to buy fun, festive fabrics that are easily switched out for different seasons.
With that said, we’re a tablecloth household, as you can see. It’s not because I enjoy being off trend (kidding), but because we don’t want to scratch or damage our table. This is my favorite everyday tablecloth, a super affordable linen cloth from Target, which is in the photo below. I also use these waterproof table pads underneath, so spilling milk at dinner isn’t a disaster. I buy the largest size and cut it in half for our table, and then we have a spare. With that said, I look forward to graduating to placemats one day!
As for affordable napkins, check out the options at Target, Ikea, World Market, and Amazon. Deals abound if you know where to look! If you’re willing to spend more, my friend swears by these beautiful cloth napkins from Anthropologie, even with little kids and stains. I hope they are included in the Black Friday sale at Anthro this year, so I can grab a set.
4 – Add Texture With Natural Elements
Once you have a festive piece in mind as the feature of your table, layer in texture through natural elements to add visual depth and warmth to the space. I added these water hyacinth chargers and wooden appetizer plates (similar) to calm down the plaid tablecloth. If you’re setting placemats on a wooden table, you’ll have a head start on this!
Our acacia appetizer plates are one of my treasures from Crate & Barrel, but they are about 10 years old. This is a similar option.
I also created some centerpiece decor by reusing natural elements we already had on hand. White pumpkins from Halloween, seed pods (similar vase filler), and dried oak leaves echo the fall vibes. Once I started playing around with the napkins, I realized the pumpkins would also look cute on each place setting. This whole look is so flexible!
5 – Metal Accents Add Balance in Seasonal Table Decor
There’s nothing like a touch of metal to brighten up a few layers of fabric, ceramic and wood. The silverware or flatware on your table can cover this base, but if you’re using matte black flatware (yes, it’s a thing!), you might think about adding metal candlesticks or another bright accent.
Even for special meals, I use our everyday, stainless flatware because I love it so, so much. This Nambé set of utensils was on our wedding registry, but I would buy it myself in a heartbeat. In fact, my mother-in-law did buy it, after using it at our house on a few visits! The style is a modern yet timeless design and it has held up beautifully over the years. All that is to say, why polish up a set of fancy silver if you love your regular flatware?
Our other seasonal table decor, not from Target:
6 – Let Something Sparkle – Candles or Lights
To kick up the festive flair at your table, it’s hard to beat the ambiance of candlelight. If you’re not a candle fan, you can add the same effect with LED flameless candles like these or these. This year, I’ve been using a string of battery-operated fairy lights in a mason jar, and I think it has a similar, sparkly effect. This layer of seasonal table decor is timeless and can be used year-round.
> Where is our door trim? Find out here! <
7 – Be Strategic With Your Centerpiece
Last tip: depending on your table design, the centerpiece can be a showstopper or a subtle accent. You can boost elements that are missing from your table decor, like setting votive candles along a pine garland for sparkle + natural accents. You could fill a glass hurricane or a wooden dough bowl with pumpkins or metal bells or dried flowers. A simple glass vase filled with tall grass adds texture and drama (for free, if comes from your yard!). Here’s an example, below.
Or, just pop a little something special on each place setting and leave room for serving dishes on the table. Get creative!
More Affordable, Seasonal Table Decor
If you’re in the mood to shop for some new tabletop items, here are a few additional picks. Scroll to the right to see more options in the grid. I looked for highly-rated pieces, lots of natural fibers and materials, and a combo of wood, fabric, and timeless items. I’ve been eyeing this fringed tablecloth (bottom left) which gets great reviews on Amazon. Have fun designing your “tablescape” this fall and holiday season!
** List in Progress Survey (+ Amazon Gift Card Winner) **
I’m sending out a huge THANK YOU to all who completed my short content survey last week!!
Congrats to Katie R for winning the Amazon e-gift card! I would still love to get your input, friends, so I know what you’d like to see on the blog this fall. Here’s the quick, anonymous survey. Thank you for your feedback!!
More Decor + DIY Inspo From List in Progress
1 – Easy DIY Wax Melts to Make Your Home Smell Great
2 – Affordable (and Free!) Ideas for Fall Decor
3 – My Favorite Affordable Turkish Towels
4 – A “Work in Progress” Home Tour
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