Set a Stylish Holiday Table on a Budget

Happy Countdown to Christmas! 

How is it possible that we are 10 days (or less depending when you're reading this) away from the coziest holiday of the year??  I won't even bother going on about how fast time flies because we all know it. 

So here's the plan: ENJOY the heck out of the next week and a half because January can feel pretty meh behind all the merriment (and extra poundage) of Christmas. Who's with me? 

Today I'm sharing some fun ideas for dressing your holiday table using affordable finds. Plus I'm tossing in a few favorite recipes in case you need some inspiration for feeding your crowd. 

I hope some of the tablescapes I've created will inspire you to add a little something extra to your holiday table. Let's get going since time's a'wastin! (I'm supposed to be packing for Florida as we speak...)   

Breakfast Club

The table: 


Blue is such a beautiful and energetic color in the morning. It's soothing yet bright and makes me feel level-headed and calm first thing. It looks great paired with oranges and berries, and you know how I like good color pairings. 

For this table look, I gathered all of the blue and white table linens and towels in my house. Most of these have come from World Market or Target. 


My favorite item in the setting is the blue place mat. These McKenna microfiber mats repel liquids to make spills easy to clean up, and they wash and dry great. I've had my first set of these since Josh and I got married nearly 7 years ago now and the McKenna line is currently on clearance. Place mats are just $2.99 each, napkins are $1.50 each and tablecloths range from $4.99-$29.99. They are such a steal and are my favorite table linens. Shop them  HERE You'll see more of these linens in other colors throughout the post. 


Other accessories that contribute to the table are these ^^ great blue and white ceramic bowls with red trim that I scored at Hobby Lobby for $5.99 on sale. Shop them  HERE. These are a nice size for serving sides or using as a fruit bowl. Other colors and styles are available too including black and white with pink trim and yellow polka dot with aqua trim. They're food safe, dishwasher safe, and microwave safe so they check all the boxes!  

Bonus: The Meal
The morning meal should be easy and something company can self-serve as they make their bleary-eyed way to the table. 

-When it comes to bevvies, set a basket filled with tea and coffee fixins on the counter beside the coffee maker or Keurig.

-Place a pitcher of water or juice on the table. 

-If you're gonna be all fancy and serve mimosas, be sure to keep the ingredients chilled and have glasses clean and ready for easy reach. 

-If you reeeeally want to be extra, go ahead and add a sugar rim or fruit garnish to the glasses. I plunked a few frozen blueberries in my "mom-osa" which, as an added bonus, keeps the drink cool without watering it down with ice. 

A recent issue of Real Simple magazine suggested a yogurt bar as a quick-fix option, and I like that idea too. My crowd prefers something a little heartier so I like to bake and freeze muffins a week before company calls and then prep a breakfast casserole the night before so it can quickly go in the oven first thing in the morning. The smell of hot breakfast is often a siren song for sleepyheads!  

Here's the link to one of my favorite breakfast casserole recipes below. Note: This casserole uses bacon and if you're like me and don't want the lingering smell of bacon hanging around, you can make the bacon a few days ahead of schedule and store it in the freezer. I love the smell of bacon as it's cooking but the greasy smell hovers in the air for a day or so and that's less desirable. Just in case,  Here's a recipe for making your house smell like the holidays using oranges, cloves, and cinnamon in a slow cooker (or just simmer on your stove top). 

BREAKFAST RECIPE: Hashbrown casserole

Another favorite in my house are can-to-oven Pillsbury cinnamon rolls so I always keep them in my fridge. If you have the time and inclination, then homemade is definitely encouraged but I think it's important to pick and choose where your energy goes. Breakfast need not be too laborious if you've got a bigger fish to fry for dinner. 

Oh, before we leave this deep blue breakfast space, let me confess...

I went a little Martha and used real magnolia tree leaves as place cards.

It. Was. Easy.

I plucked a few good looking leaves off the tree in my front yard (there's plenty if you need to come get a handful for your table) and I wrote guest's names on the leaves with a gold paint marker.


Another note: So I was going for a relaxed, reading-the-morning-paper vibe and wanted to include an actual newspaper, BUT the only newspaper I have in my house is a single page torn out of a dated paper with an article about potty training, which my mother in law saved for me. I turned it around to look for a more breakfast table friendly article. 

My choices were how to break your battle with alcohol dependency. 



I couldn't resist! Though I do not feel in any way steamrollered by my in-laws when they visit my home, FYI. Still, funny, right? Clearly I got the self-help section of The Gazette.

Shimmer and Shine 

If you love the look of an all-white Christmas, I prepped this shimmering scene, and while there's lots of gilty touches, there's some super practical details. Take a look. 

Again, I've used the McKenna placemats and napkins because they are seriously so wonderful and are SO affordable on clearance right now. (Reminder, $1.50 per napkin, $2.99 per placemat at Bed Bath & Beyond) Spills just sit on top of the fabric so you can blot them away without the risk of staining. 

I don't know about you, but I personally know no shame when it comes to disposable dishes. Chinet is all right by me, though most days we're a Dixie family. The gold sparkly plates pictured above are a good weight plastic plate. These came from Marshalls for around $0.75 per plate for the dinner size plates and $0.50 per plate for the dessert/salad size. 

In this case, these plates could actually be rinsed and used again, but when you're serving family and friends (and hosting their germs?) and there's a really big meal happening, do yourself a favor and toss these in the recycling bin so you can get back to enjoying the holidays instead of washing dishes. Also, go ahead and delegate some dish duty to any sullen teenage guests who deem themselves too cool to play Pictionary. You'll see immediate improvement in their disposition and participation. Advice from a formerly sullen teenager. 

Inexpensive ornaments are also a nice way to mark spots for guests or just to surprise them with an affordable and thoughtful takeaway. These gold metal snowflakes and glittery birds came from Walmart for $1.00 each.

Close up ^^ of the McKenna placemat and swanky plates. 

Here's a close up of the table cloth and runner too. The key to keeping all white/cream scenes from waxing boring is to incorporate a variety of textures.  I use the gold-flecked scarf as a table runner. Yep, a scarf I have worn as a shawl over a cocktail dress graces my dinner table. AND it was under $8 at Walmart.

Also, let's take another peek here-- these glasses on the left are family treasures passed down to me. I doubt they were expensive but they sure have survived the years. I use them for serving beverages or for pretty parfaits or scoops of ice cream. The gold-rimmed champagne glasses on the right were a thrift store find in Charleston, nine glasses for $5. They look fab with some bubbly or with a scoop of sorbet or fresh cut fruit for brunch. 

Speaking of desserts, here's a bonus recipe for homemade peppermint ice cream from the Pioneer Woman. Don't get intimidated by the homemade descriptor. This recipe is easy to follow and will be a unique treat for your guests! 

The Kids' Table

Ahhh! The joy and exile of the kids' table! How many of us wish we could sit there now when all we wanted as youngsters was to graduate to real citizenship at the grown-ups' table. Now we know that the talk around the grown-ups' largely revolves around aches and pains, possible criticism of life decisions, and passing the gravy. YAWN. ;) 

Set up an easy-going spot for the Future Leaders of the World complete with colorful dishes, fun cups, and plenty of distractions. In my scene, I've only set out sweets but I think (HOPE) it goes without saying not to feed the little guys nothing but sugar, unless they are all leaving your house right after the meal. Evil laugh.  

I highly advise plastic or paper plates for kids but I used colorful dishes from my kitchen cabinet since I haven't picked up any kid-friendly plates this year. The dishes I have came from Dillards when I moved into my first apartment, and they just will not quit. :) The brand is Artimino but you'll have better luck finding Fiesta Ware in vibrant colors for a similar look. Shop them HERE

For an easy and cheap craft to keep the kids occupied while the grown-ups pass around digestive aids at the close of the meal, let them work on mastering the Christmas tree napkin fold using paper naps. 

HERE's the tutorial on how to make the tree napkin. You can see from mine that I still need to work on my technique.   

A few style notes: 

-That's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that had an unfortunate run-in with a gingerbread man cookie cutter. After this shoot he was Iris's lunch. The cookies went to Mommy. 

-The Merry Christmas banner is a Target Dollar Spot find. 

-So are the ornaments. $3 for a sleeve of large balls; $1 for a sleeve of small ones. 

-The snowflake ramekins are also from Target Dollar Spot. $3 for one large and one small. These are EXCELLENT trinkets to giveaway. Fill them with candy, wrap in tulle and tie with a bow. Instant gift! 

-Another instant gift? These mason jar mugs with chalkboard inset. I gave these out one year filled with hot chocolate fixins-- cocoa mix, mini chocolate chips, and marshmallows. They cost $2.99 at Marshalls. These are a great way to mark places at the table and to keep up with whose drink is whose. Don't want to share cooties this time of year.  

Dinner is Served 

Sitting down to dinner at a beautifully dressed table that is packed with delicious smells is such heaven! (And a big glass of red wine never hurt either. Countdown to being able to indulge after baby arrives... only 18 more weeks to go!) 

As you may have surmised, where I come from, there's nothing wrong with dressing your holiday table with your favorite winter scarf for a truly cozy meal. 

Below I've topped a burgundy McKenna tablecloth with a soft gray scarf as a table runner. Obviously my table isn't that long, but if it was, I'd just use two scarves (probably matching) and overlap them in the middle underneath whatever centerpiece I whipped up. 

-The centerpiece above is a cracked ice bowl we received as a wedding gift, filled with decorative balls and pinecones from Target. 

-The slate snowflake coasters came from Target Dollar Spot. 

-The dishes are Colorwave by Noritake. Shop them HERE

-The red candle holders are a favorite of mine. They came from Marshalls for around $5 each. 

-Keeping with the cozy aesthetic, I added in some of my nativity animals for a little touch of whimsy. Iris is obsessed with these sheep. 

Here's the Christmas tree napkin fold again. Try it yourself HERE

Josh doesn't love chicken. Not any kind of chicken. Not fried. Not baked. Not grilled. Not broiled. 

But Josh LOVES this recipe ^^. It's got egg noodles and shredded chicken plus cheddar cheese, onion, garlic, sour cream, butter (of course) and crushed red pepper for a spicy kick. I've made this a few times now because it warms my heart to see Josh so enamored with a chicken dish. I don't even bother boiling the noodles. I just put it all together and bake for a half hour. The noodles come out fine! 

That's a wrap! 

It's totally acceptable to me and you to cover the holiday table with GIFT WRAP. :)

Talk about your easy set up and clean up. You don't have to dry it, steam it, or iron it to make it look presentable. You don't have to stress over spills. Plus there are SO many options to choose from.

Here I've used complimentary gift wrap that arrived inside my most recent LOFT mailer. They so thoughtfully stuck a double-sided square of gift wrap in the booklet, and I decided to let it brighten up my dining table. Plus it looks really cute with my colorful dishes.

-Here I went a little extra on the Christmas tree napkin fold and added some fake berries. These would be a choking hazard for the little ones so keep them on the grown-ups' table or use something edible that kids can easily chew and swallow. 

-I topped my tree with a teal velvet bow using ribbon I found at Hobby Lobby. Shop it  HERE for just $1.99 this week!

Also, look at this flower napkin fold. This was SO easy. It took less than a minute to master this one using the pin linked  HERE. If the Christmas tree fold has you feeling defeated, this bud's for you! Super easy, super pretty, super time-efficient.

This one is big you guys!! I last made these AHHHHmazing pretzel rolls over July 4th weekend, and they are such a hit with my family! They are so buttery and soft inside and nice and salty on the outside. They are excellent as a dinner roll and they make awesome breakfast sandwiches the next day if you happen to have leftover ham or turkey. Don't wait to make these until the last second because the dough needs to rise for awhile. I start them in the morning and then don't have to stress over them at all. They are actually fun to make. 

At the Center of it All 

Before we go, here's another little idea for ya. If you need a centerpiece for your dessert table or the dining table if yours isn't very large, use a cake pedestal and some holiday decor to create your own simple centerpiece.

This frilly milk glass-inspired cake pedestal was $13 at Marshalls. I topped it with some bottle brush trees (Hobby Lobby), pine cones and berries and added a few extra underneath the stand for good measure and balance. Such an affordable little scene! 

Here's what I used for a centerpiece last year plus a bonus recipe for delicious vanilla-almond poundcake. 
Also, this tartan tablecloth was $9.99 at Marshalls. Totally affordable and machine-washable. 

I used real rosemary around the poundcake and was able to save it for recipes after it served as a garnish. 

All right, I can't wait to see pics of your beautiful holiday table settings! I've got to get back to packing (and snacking). Have a great weekend and enjoy the countdown to Christmas. I'll check in next week to see how crazed we're all feeling on a scale of 1 to insanity.

Stylishly yours,

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