It’s no secret that do-it-yourself tabletop styling allows you to cut lots of corners, but let’s be honest, it can still be expensive. Between florals, linens, cutlery, glasses, dishes and other seasonal accessories, your budget can quickly dwindle. So this fall, I challenged myself to get extra thrifty with my decor and allowed myself only one armload of pieces from none other than our local hardware store.
My budget was just $30. I left the hardware store with a crimson-petaled mum, some dried corn, four ceramic tiles and a faux pumpkin. My objective was to add character to our everyday collection of glasses and dishes. Here’s how I did it.
The first project I wanted to tackle was the centerpiece, which consisted of a pumpkin (in my favorite neutral shade: white) and a flowering potted mum. To start off, I used a cordless rotary pumpkin carving tool and a hand-held saw to remove the top of my faux pumpkin. Then I simply dropped the flowers, plastic pot and all, into the pumpkin.
To finish, I used a metallic gold Sharpie marker to add a simple “Give Thanks” message to the side of the pumpkin. I ended up going over the words a few times to make the message really pop against the white, letting the ink dry between coats. The best thing is that my crafted pumpkin can now be packed away for next year, and I won’t have to make any effort at all come Thanksgiving 2015!
Next, I wanted to come up with a fun and festive DIY place card project to make each of our guests feel extra special. I stood in the aisle at the hardware store for quite some time considering all of the options. Inspiration ultimately struck when my eyes settled on a box full of dried corn husks. The bright red, mustard and cream palette of the kernels complemented my red mums perfectly, so into my cart they went.
To turn them into place cards, I carefully pierced the center of the corn with two toothpicks, about 1 inch apart. Then, I used a pair of scissors to snip the toothpicks so that they were each 1 inch tall.
Next, I grabbed the custom printed place cards that I had ordered earlier in the season and folded each in half. With the centers creased, I opened the cards back up and placed a dot of craft glue just in the two bottom corners of the cards, avoiding the center of the card, and gently squeezed them closed.
After allowing the glue to dry for an hour, I picked the cards back up and slipped the unglued center portion of the cards right over the toothpicks. The previously glued corners made the card stay snugly in place, and then I just placed each ear of corn parallel to the place settings to denote a guest’s specific spot.
For my third and final project, I wanted to create rustic placemats to add some texture to the tabletop. The answer was found in slate tiles.
Although initially I had planned to pick up real slate, the rough-hewn tiles would have given my guests’ plates a wobbly foundation to rest on. So instead I picked out four ceramic tiles that featured the color scheme I wanted and also had nice, even surfaces.
All it took to transform my tiles into bonafide place mats was a piece of adhesive-backed felt placed on each underside corner. I chose to be thrifty and use what I had — four large circles of felt from a previous furniture purchase. To make them fit, I picked up a pair of scissors and cut each circle into quarters — one set of quarters for each tile.
Despite the fact that I ended up setting the table with my everyday white dishes, a handful of plain white linens and the glasses we use all the time, the introduction of a few thoughtful and inexpensive DIY touches made the table feel anything but ordinary.
More from Carrie Waller