I’m the kind of person, creatively, who wakes up one morning and decides that, well, I know how to do all the things.

And then I just do them.

Sometimes they come out unbelievably gorgeous, sometimes they are a fantastically horrific flop, and sometimes – and these are the worst – I think they’re amazing and take photos and post them and show everyone and am proud as punch… only to look back at my poor juvenile efforts a year later and cringe a thousand cringes.

So what I’m saying is, take what I am telling you with a grain of salt.

Let’s talk tablescapes, which is a sexy way of saying setting your table in a way so that it looks magazine worthy and like you spent one million dollars on it, and also, it doesn’t have to be at all practical- nor does there have to be room for actual food on the dishes at all, as long as every inch of the table is filled with different tones and textures of Instagrammable things that will be immediately rendered utterly useless after you take your filtered grainy Instastory video.

Excited? Me too.

Except my versions of these things tend to include some DIY, a lot of shopping what you already own in the house (aka reusing and repurposing – oh the horror) and leaving room on the table for actual food because, well. Priorities.

So the first thing you want to do is stalk Google images, Instagram hashtags and Pinterest for tablescape ideas. Get really granular (search by color, theme, season or holiday) so you can pinpoint what you want pretty quickly and get your inspiration or starting board for ideas. If you want to copy, copy. (Just be sure to give credit if you’re posting photos on social somewhere). My gosh don’t make things harder for yourself for no reason, especially if you’re new to this. We don’t judge here.

I am going to walk you through some of the basic features of a full and festive table:

  1. Tablecloth: Either choose one you already own, or if you want to shop for a new one, some of my favorite affordable haunts include Home Goods, H&M online, and your local fabric store (ask which fabrics can be used as washable tablecloths, and be sure to know your table measurements before going in! I don’t even bother finishing the edges. It’s cool and modern). This will be the foundation for the look you’re going for. You will either be pulling colors from or contrasting colors from this, or this is the quiet backdrop for whatever is going on top.
  2. Chargers: These are the fancy bibs that go underneath each person’s plate that serve no purpose whatsoever. One of my favorite tricks is using square scrapbook paper from my local craft store. There are a myriad of choices and it’s so fun, but probably not that reusable of an option so keep that in mind. Think outside the box, don’t match all the papers, get different patterns in the same color story! Or different colors in the same texture. Another great option: I love using square mirror tiles that I always see in Walmart (so glam), and you can snoop around in your local Lowe’s or Home Depot to find a pretty textured square or rectangular tile as well. The trick is to find one that’s super thin and flat (buy a few extras in case they break, which they will, so you don’t kill the kids) and pay attention to the edges. You don’t want tile-like beveled edges or a design that looked tile-ish. The good news is that these chargers can stay on the table for the entire meal so no one knows what they really are. Take THAT, Z. Gallerie.
  1. Dinnerware: You can and SHOULD obviously use what you have, but if you are due for or simply bored of (husbands don’t read this right?) your dishes, Dollar Tree has simple clear glass dishes that are perfection and totally reusable because they match every vibe. You can see the scrapbook paper chargers, the textured tile or whatever you layer underneath. For paper goods, Walmart has some surprisingly great stuff. Check Walmart before running to ye olde Target like you always do. You know, just to switch things up. You may surprise yourself with what you’ll find.
  2. Centerpieces: Be sure to keep anything in the center of the table nice and low – no high vases, because we both know it will get moved to the kitchen as soon as dinner begins. I prefer three smaller arrangements over one large one – it looks significantly more substantial and usually doesn’t cost more. Always make sure you’re working in odd numbers – so either three or five, depending on the length of your table and size of the arrangements. The smaller the arrangement the more you can place. Make sure any candles on the table are non-scented; scented candles don’t play well with fragrant foods.

If you are planning on placing large platters on the table and want to skip anything decorative in the center altogether, consider placing a single bud in a shot glass at each place setting, or something small to that effect. Anything individualized feels custom; and anything custom feels elevated. That’s why people like to use napkin rings (Forever 21 bangle or beaded bracelets, hair scrunchies, simple classic ribbon, raffia, twine) and place cards. It elevates the experience. Elevated is a fancy way of saying it makes everything feel more expensive (even if it isn’t).

  1. Joy: When I stopped worrying so much about what I was “supposed” to be putting on my table, if people could tell how much something cost, and whether or not I was “allowed” to use butterfly clips as napkin rings, and just focused on collecting what made my heart smile, that was when my tablescapes started coming alive.

See you inside a moody, Instagram filtered close up of a verrry expensive looking mirrored charger that you now know came from Walmart!