Table Decorating: Get Started with the Basics

Tips and Tricks to Table Decorating: “Table Decorating 101” mini class.  If you like to host parties or dinners, I recommend that you start to build a basic collection of:

  • Dinnerware= White
  • Table clothes = White then add black
  • Nice set of silverware
  • Folding 6ft table – as a food serving area.

You do not have to use white….but if you need to “purchase” new dishes, then I suggest white.



White is a very popular color right now, so availability and pricing is in your favor.  White allows you to  add to your dinnerware collection with almost any brand.  I have bowls, plates, serving plates, etc., from a variety of stores and they ALL look great together.  Only if you turn them over to read the bottom will you know they were not all bought as a set.  So, when you are at Marshals or Pier One, or any other store and you see any dinnerware that you may need or want, get it!  I have built a great collection of serving dishes this way and the cost was minimal.  Also, each year my party guests have increased in numbers.  I am now hosting 14 people instead of the 12 that I had last year for a sit-down dinner.  Because I went with white dinnerware two years ago, I only have to buy two more dinner plate settings, and not an entire set for 14!  HUGE COST SAVINGS!  EVERYTHING MATCHES And I LOVE my white dishes for their versatility and simplistic beauty!  However, this is just a suggestion!

Why White and Black Tablecloths?  

White goes with EVERYTHING, and you can use it for ANY occasion.  I use my white tablecloths at least 4 times a year, if not more.  White on white is stunning! Once you get comfortable playing with table accessories and color combinations, you will be glad that you selected white….no limitations!  And you can get fancy printed table runners to add more fun without the two clashing.

Black is another basic color that goes with almost anything.  I have used my black tablecloths at least 4 times this year, too! The only reason I would recommend white tablecloths as your first investment is that is goes with dark colors, too.  Brown on black is not as favorable as brown on white.  You can argue that white stains easier; hence why I suggest white and black for your basic starting collection.  I can only use my Holiday print tablecloth one time, which is fine, but I can do so much more with colors and decorations by staying with solid colors as the base.

OVERLAYS!  This is where you will LOVE table decorating, and they are not expensive if you shop around.  You can go  with a very expensive and decorative tablerunner from Pier 1 on your white tablecloth…..fabulous.  Or use organza…satin…pintuck overlays and runners.  (I will be talking more about these soon…)

Each year I try to add to my tablecloth collection.  Two years ago I started with my basic white in several sizes as I always have a food serving table, and I want all of my tablecloths to match.  Last year I invested in black.  This year for our Holiday parties, I am going to splurge a little more on table covers by getting gold crinkle taffeta tablecloth and red organza overlays.

One of my favorite websites this time of year is  They have an amazing selection of colors and fabrics for almost any size/shape of table.  For example, My gold crinkle taffeta  60 x 120  rectangle table cover is $13.00!  My 60” red organza overlays are $3.10 each!!  And my red crinkle taffeta table runner is $2.39!  SERIOUSLY!!!   If you shop on this site, you could have a minimal investment of about $20 to do one table!

Another great place to shop is Bed, Bath & Beyond.  They have round placemats in a variety of colors for about $2.00 each!  With a white or black tablecloth, you can have a lot of different theme colors by just changing place mats.  Use paper napkins from Walmart or any party store to match or accent the placemats, and your table/tables will pop with color!

If your table is small or you are squeezing in a lot of people, I recommend chargers.  They will add color to your table just as a place mat does….and I only use placemats for color!  I just bought red chargers at Michael’s for $2.50 each!  (Again, gearing up for my Holiday parties!)

Let’s get this Thanksgiving Table Decorated!

For Thanksgiving, I am using my black tablecloth from tableclothsfactory and my orange placemats from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Two years ago, I got a great deal on ceramic plates when Linens & Things went out of business.  I am going to use my brown and orange plates this year, but I used my white plates last year with these same decorations, and it was just as stunning!

I am adding more color with an orange organza runner from tableclothfactory.  $1.65 each!  My centerpiece is the fall glow stick that I made, (previous blog).  I like organza for the table runners and overlays as they pick up the candle lights with added sparkle.

And the final touch is the adorable pumpkin candle holders I recently made and also blogged about.  I have my candles lit before guests arrive.  You can place a little doily under the pumpkins, too.  Once it is dinner time, guests simply move their pumpkin to the center of the table, at they add to the beautiful centerpiece.  You can also place them in the center instead of on the plates.

Why I like my table arrangement:  

  • The glow stick centerpiece is low so it won’t block anyone’s view of other guests.
  • If you don’t have access to an outlet, then make the centerpiece without lights…the candles will give you enough mood lighting.
  • The pumpkin candle holders are very colorful and still not too high to get in the way of seeing other guests.  I am NOT a fan of high center pieces for that reason.
  • You still have room for serving dishes if you choose to user our eating area as your serving area, too.

You are the MASTER OF YOUR PARTY!  Do it your way and have fun!!!


About terrilynnrider

I love to think about "what makes people tick." People never cease to amaze me. My passion for trying to unlock the mysterious human mind is what drives me to excel in creative and strategic marketing.

Posted on November 9, 2011, in Crafts, Decorating, Dinner Party, Fall Decorations, Table Decorating, Thanksgiving and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I really like your thanksgiving place setting, can you direct me to the glow stick post?

  2. What stunning tables! If there is no outlet for the lights, there are small, battery-powered sets of lights that one can use to light up a centerpiece. Try to purchase with a coupon, or look for them at the after-Christmas sales for extra savings. Happy Holidays!

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