The Foraged Wreath

One of the many things I love about living in the Pacific Northwest is being able to find greens for holiday decorating right in my own garden.

An Easy DIY Christmas Wreath

It’s fun to make your own wreath, and it’s easier than it looks.

Where to Find The Greens

Often you can get free scraps of evergreen branches where Christmas trees are sold.  If you want more variety in your wreath, some nurseries also sell boughs of assorted evergreens and berries.

But I check my garden first for evergreen branches, berries, pinecones, and interesting mosses.

If you don’t have a garden, ask a neighbor or friend with one if they can spare a few cuttings.  If you don’t live in an area with evergreens, can you find other local greens or natural elements that would make an interesting wreath?

Materials and Supplies

To start with, you just need a wreath form, florist wire (found at craft stores), wire cutters, greens, and garden pruners.  Once your wreath starts to take shape, you will get a good sense of what other kinds of decorations you might want to add.

DIY Christmas Wreath - what you will need

Let’s Get Started

There are many ways to construct a wreath, and this is just my method.  I like to use drapey greens that hang nicely on either side of the wreath and meet at the bottom.

Cut the greens into about six-inch lengths and bundle them, at the cut ends, into small handfuls using the wire.

bundled greens
A handful of greens ready to be attached to the wreath form.

Securely attach the bundles to the wreath form at the cut ends using more wire.

Start at the bottom and work your way up, overlapping the greens you are adding over the ones already secured so that you are always hiding the wire from the previous bundle.  The wired cut ends should be up and the uncut loose ends pointing down.

Work your way to the top in this manner and then start again at the bottom and cover the other side, working your way up.

At the top, you will wind up with some wire showing, and this is a good place to put a bow or other decoration that covers those wires.

You can make your wreath as dense or as loose as you like, and with the wire you can add your other decorative elements.

My Wreath

This year I’m craving decorations that look natural and unpretentious, and it shows in my wreath.

DIY Christmas Wreath

One of these days I will make a wreath that is actually round and symmetrical.  But I just love a drapey, whimsical wreath.  I added large pinecones and longer greens at the bottom.

Small gold bells on wires are the only touch of glamour.  Now the wreath jingles softly as the door is opened.

wreath closeup

A Simple Garland

With a branch of the leftover greens, I made this garland.

DIY GarlandRight now I have a crush on these little white bells on jute twine, and I’ve been looking for ways to use them.

I tried them on the wreath, but they didn’t look right.  So making a wreath does involve a little experimentation, but that is all part of the fun.


Sources*:

I used my Fiskars Pruners for cutting the greens because they are very easy on my hands.  They are a great gift for any gardener, in fact these are going to someone on my Christmas list this year!

*Affiliate links used.


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Button Up These Pretty Jewelry Organizers

My Vintage Button Obsession

A while back, I was at an antique show not feeling very inspired when I came across a jar of old assorted buttons.

For some reason it caught my attention and since then I have been a bit obsessed with old buttons.  If you buy the right jar, you could wind up with a little treasure trove of tiny works of art – mother of pearl, Bakelite, wood, glass.

DIY holiday gift idea using vintage buttons

Each one holds a secret as to what great old garment it might have been on.  An Edwardian wedding gown?  A flapper’s little black dress?

A Great DIY Gift Idea – Or to Keep!

Of course if you had some really cool old buttons you would want to display them.  But how about displaying them on an attractive piece of décor that takes up only wall space and also helps you organize your jewelry?

Something so pretty and practical that it would also make a great gift – that is if you can bring yourself to give it away?

You only need a few supplies and a little time to make this fun earring hanger.

DIY holidat gift idea - earring hanger
Earring hanger

 

Or a necklace hanger.

DIY holiday gift idea - necklace hangers
Necklace hangers

Round Up The Supplies

First you’ll need a frame.  Not a fancy frame, but something very plain with a good flat surface that you can easily glue buttons to.

You will need craft paint or spray paint if you want to paint your frame.

If you’re painting over wood or over a dark color, you might have to prime the frame before painting.

You will also need craft glue.

If you’re making an earring hanger, you will need a medium to heavy-duty staple gun, wire cutters, and some quarter-inch mesh screen (found in hardware stores).

For the necklace hanger, use small hooks instead of the mesh screen.  You might also need to drill holes for the hooks if they don’t screw easily into the frame.

And of course you will need buttons.  Some vintage buttons are highly collectible and you can spend a pretty penny on them if you are so inclined.  But you can also find jars or bags of old buttons at thrift stores and antique stores at bargain prices.

Sometimes jars of buttons are sorted by color, so think about an overall color scheme and the look you would like to achieve for your frame.  This is the fun part!  Just keep in mind you can only use buttons with flat backs or they won’t adhere to the frame very well.

The How-To

You have probably already guessed that this project is very easy.  It’s also lots of fun.

First, paint the frame and let it dry.

For the earring hanger, you will need to use the wire cutters to cut the mesh screen to size so that it fits inside the frame.  If you look at the back of the frame, there should be about a half-inch recessed rim around the inside and this is the area you want your screen to fit into.

Attach your screen to the frame by stapling it to this rim.

DIY holiday gift idea
Back of earring hanger

If you’re making the necklace hanger, get small hooks from the hardware store in a finish you like and screw them into the frame from the back, as shown in this photo.

DIY holiday gift idea
Back of necklace hanger – note the location of the hooks.

You want to be able to hang necklaces on the hooks, so make sure you get hooks large enough if you will be hanging bulkier necklaces like pearls.

Then the creativity starts:  Then lay the buttons out on the frame in a pattern that you like and glue them on.

DIY holiday gift idea - button art
A wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors of buttons were used for this necklace hanger.

Attach a picture hook or hanger to the back of the frame if it doesn’t have one.

I love projects that repurpose used materials in unique ways.  These hangers were made using second-hand frames from the thrift store and of course the old buttons.

They are a great way to display collections of vintage jewelry.

Not as hooked on buttons as I am?  Skip them and just use a pretty little frame.


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Growing Paperwhites for a Beautiful Holiday Centerpiece

A Holiday Tradition

Growing paperwhite bulbs for the holiday season is one of my traditions.  Paperwhites are so fragrant, and they are so easy to grow.  Best of all, they can be grown in all kinds of fun containers, so the creative possibility are endless.

Paperwhites are a bulb, a variety of narcissus, and they can be forced to bloom indoors during winter.  If timed right, they can be blooming gloriously in your home just in time for the holidays.

Think Outside the Box

I’m sure you have seen the paperwhite kits in home and garden stores.  They come in a box and include some bulbs, a container, and planting medium.

But if you want to get more creative, it’s easy to learn how to pot paperwhites using your own container.

Potting Up Your Customized Paperwhite Container

First, pick a container that you love.  The only requirement is that it is water tight and a couple of inches deep.

With such limited requirements, you can have all kinds of fun with this.  Use a vase, a teacup, a gravy boat, a trifle bowl.

Here are just a few containers that I have used to pot up paperwhite bulbs.

Growing paperwhites - choosing a container
Paperwhite containers – the possibilities are endless

Growing paperwhites

You don’t need soil for paperwhites.  They grow best in just pebbles and water.

You can find a wide variety of decorative natural or glass pebbles in the floral department of most hobby stores.

Is your container all glass?  Then choose a highly decorative pebble since it will be seen.

If the container is not glass, then in some cases you can just use unglamorous walkway gravel (example to follow).

Next you will need the paperwhite bulbs.  For just the bulb and not the whole boxed kit, the best place to go is a garden center or nursery.

Make sure the bulbs you buy are for indoor forcing.  Ask if you have any doubt.  There are many new varieties of paperwhites for indoor forcing.  I  have always had the most reliable luck with the most common one, Paperwhite ‘Ziva.’

Plan on spacing the bulbs at last a half-inch apart in the container, so buy your bulbs accordingly. I have found that as long as they are not touching each other, the bulbs don’t mind being crowded in a container, and it makes for a fuller display.

So now that you have what you need, let’s start potting.

Just put the potting medium (pebbles, gravel, or glass beads) into your container at least a couple of inches deep and space the bulbs on top of the medium.

Then add just a little more medium to hold the bulbs in place.  Most of the bulb should still be above the surface.

Here are two examples:

Growing paperwhites. Starting in amber bowl
Starting paperwhite bulbs in amber bowl.
Growing paperwhites: Starting bulbs in green vintage bowl
Paperwhite bulbs in vintage container

You can see how the bulbs are spaced.  The bulbs in the green container are in plain old walkway gravel because I intend to put decorative moss over the gravel later to finish the look.

Once the bulbs are set in, just fill the container with water until it reaches the bottom of the bulbs.  They need to have access to the water but not be  submerged in it.

Nap Time

Once your paperwhites are potted and watered, you can put them in a cool, dark place for a week to take a nap.  But I have skipped this step entirely and it didn’t really impact the bulbs that much.

Once they have been in the dark for week, bring them into the light, somewhere in your house not too warm but near a window.  By now you should see that the bulbs have started to sprout.  Make sure the roots always have water.

It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere

Once the growth on the bulbs gets about four inches tall, your paperwhites are of drinking age and can have a cocktail.  Seriously.

This step isn’t for everyone and feel free to skip it if you like.  But feeding your paperwhites a little alcohol will stunt the root growth making the plant less gangly and less likely to lean over, yet not impacting how nicely it will bloom.

Give them the hard stuff – 40-proof clear, uncolored booze, diluted with water.  Cheap vodka is a good choice.

Mix one part booze to seven parts water.  If they still have water in their container and you are just topping off, then their first drink can be one part booze to five parts water.

A Little Support

Even with the booze, the paperwhites might lean toward the light so you might have to stake them.  I use decorative artificial berry sprigs (found at craft stores) for stakes since they add a little color to the arrangement.

Potting paperwhite bulbs - using florist berrie as stakes
Most hobby or craft shops carry these decorative berries around the holidays.
Potting paperwhite bulbs - craft berries as stakes - closeup
The berries have wired stems so you can bend them around any leaf or blossom that is leaning.

Finally in Bloom

Here are is my amber glass paperwhite container four and a half weeks after the bulbs were potted.

 

Growing bulbs - after 4.5 weeks

 

And here is the green vintage container where I used plain old walkway gravel.  Now the gravel is covered with moss and other natural accents.

 

Bulbs at 3-5 weeks closeup of moss

I wanted the arrangement to look like something growing naturally on the forest floor.

Paperwhites usually boom four to six weeks after they are potted, and continue to bloom for at least a week and usually much longer.

After they are done blooming, they won’t bloom again so you can throw them in the compost bin with no guilt.

I plant several paperwhite containers at intervals during the winter so I always have them booming.

But then again, I am a little obsessed with them.


Get The Look

Bulb kits also make wonderful hostess gifts, and here are a couple of especially nice choices.  Plus, for DIY arrangements, extra-large bulbs in bulk (the larger the bulb, the more flowers!) and some sweet containers for one-of-a-kind arrangements.

paperwhites-get-the-look

Clockwise from center:  Paperwhite Bulbs, 20 Count, Largest Commercially Available | Netherland Paperwhite Growing Kit in Blue Ceramic Planter (green also shown here) | Vintage Green Jug | Glass Flower Vase | Milk Glass Tear Drop Design Footed Bowl | Bamboo Flower Pot Self-Contained Garden Kit


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Arts and Crafts Dining Chairs Get a Wild Makeover

Earlier this year, we bought six antique quarter sawn oak dining chairs and an antique oak dining table at a moving sale.

We have not been able to attribute the chairs to a particular manufacturer, but as close as we can tell they are a fine example from the Arts and Crafts Movement that influenced design from around 1880 until 1910.

This movement was a reaction to the decorative excesses and the mass production of Victorian furniture and décor.  The Arts and Crafts Movement featured simple, honest designs and focused on the quality of the materials and the workmanship.

Lesson Learned

We made the mistake of not sitting in the chairs before we bought them.  But that probably wouldn’t have change our minds anyway.

The chairs had been recently reupholstered with a nice neutral fabric that went with just about everything.

Reupholster dining chairs before reupholster
Chair with neutral fabric

But there really wasn’t much cush there.  Sitting in them for any length of time hurt the old tailbone.

The chair seats had sturdy oak frames, and they were holding up wonderfully.  But the thin, flimsy wooden seat inserts inside the frames were failing on most of the chairs.

reupholster Dining Chairs - insert
Cracked seat insert

I could just imagine, at our next dinner party,  guests sitting uncomfortably in their chairs until someone (probably me) fell through their seat.  A memorable dinner for all the wrong reasons!

We decided to reupholster our dining chairs with thicker foam and new seat inserts.

Chris started cutting the inserts and I headed to the fabric store.

Tired of Playing it Safe

Once at the fabric store, I realized I was tired of playing it safe.  None of the tidy geometric designs that a sensible person would choose for dining chair upholstery appealed to me.  I had done all that before.

I was drawn to a Waverly print called ‘Santa Maria Adobe.’  The print is really too large for a dining chair and is definitely not for everyone.  But for these chairs, I loved it.

The Makeover Begins

The chair seats were the kind that are easy to reupholster.  Basically, you fold the fabric under and staple.  But we decided to go with 2-inch high-density foam, so I would have to have the right tool to cut foam that thick.

I stumbled on a YouTube video where someone had built a table saw for cutting foam and the saw blade turned out to be an electric carving knife.

Luckily we had one sitting forgotten in a kitchen drawer.

Reupholster dining chairs - foam cutter
My foam cutter

But before I went through the trouble of building the “table” part of the table saw, I thought I would try cutting the foam with the electric knife by simply holding the foam vertically and cutting downward following an outline I had drawn on the foam.

It worked like a charm, like I was cutting through butter.  What a time saver.

It was hard to get the seat corners to look right with foam that thick under the fabric.  It took me a while to find the best way to fold the fabric at the corners.

But the oversized fabric pattern was easy to center.  In order not to waste fabric, I made a couple of different looks for the chairs by centering different parts of the fabric – something I had never tried before.

Reupholster Dining Chairs upholstery 1

Reupholster Dining Chairs upholstery 2

Double Duty

When we have parties, we sometimes bring some dining chairs into the living room for extra seating.  Now with the thicker pads and the crazy upholstery, each chair can stand on its own as an interesting piece that looks good wherever we put it.

Reupholster Dining Chairs with side table
Chair with antique side table

And no one will fall through their chair.


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Mid Century Modern Chair Revamp

Midcentury chair revamp

Chris had this little chair in his bedroom when he was a kid.  He remembers his mother, Betty, reupholstering it with the striped fabric.

Mid century modern chair before revamp
The chair with Betty’s 1960s upholstery work

For some reason, he held onto it.  We would use it sometimes as extra seating at garage sales, or as a stool for reaching high places.

For the last decade, it’s been buried under empty boxes in our basement.  Recently I decided to organize the basement, and I brought the chair upstairs into the light of day.

We’d just been to an exhibit featuring the work of Danish modern furniture designers – the best of the best from the Mad Men era.  Those chairs certainly outclassed our chair, but this cute little guy was sure trying.

Proud Origins

After a little research, we learned that we had a “tubular cantilever chair.”  The back and seat are attached to a continuous steel frame that then sweeps beautifully to an L-shaped base.

This simple and ingenious design has been around for a surprisingly long time and was actually once the center of controversy.

An early version of the cantilever chair was designed in 1925 by Marcel Breuer, a Hungarian modernist designer and architect.  But it is said that his design was inspired by the work of Dutch designer Mart Stam.  The two designers wound up  in a patent lawsuit in a German court, which Stam won.

Contemporary furniture designers of the time embraced the cantilever concept and were inspired to create all sorts of variations.

Better Than New

With the recent renewed interest in mid century modern design, these chairs are popular once again.  So Chris decided to give his chair a little facelift.

First he removed the upholstery his mother had added to the seat, and the yellow bathrug that she had cut to fit as padding.  As a child of the Great Depression, Betty never wasted anything.

Mid Century modern chair cushion taken apart
Unpeeling the layers on the chair seat

Then he dealt with the chair back.  It still had the original upholstery but had been painted several times.  The little steel tacks, a nice decorative detail, had been painted over.

old tacks
Removing the tacks from the chair back

He stripped paint splatter from the steel frame and polished it.

Mid Century modern cantilever chair frame

You can see in this photo how the entire frame of the chair is one continuous piece of steel tubing.  So with the back and the seat, the chair is made up of only three pieces.

Chris reupholstered the back and seat with a red leatherette fabric.  I love his choice of the red – such a versatile color.  Now the chair can work in either a whimsical retro setting or in a more serious classic contemporary environment.

Mid Century modern chair reupholstered
Cantilever chair after new upholstery.
Midcentury modern chair closeup
Close-up of steel tacks after being stripped of paint.

The original upholstery fabric was nothing special and there were no maker’s marks on the chair, leading us to conclude that it is not a high-end piece.  I suspect it looks better now than when it was new.

I don’t think it’s going back in the basement.

 


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Confessions of a Pumpkin Thief

Pumpkin Decorating

Okay, I didn’t really steal any pumpkins on my recent visit to Molbaks Nursery.  But I did steal ideas – pumpkin decorating ideas that go way beyond carving.

Turns out the employees at Molbaks are a very talented bunch, and I’d stumbled upon a display of pumpkins that they had decorated.

This one is smiling, but somehow it’s clown creepy.

pumpkins4

This one, just plain creepy – and imaginative.

Pumpkin decorating ideas spider on head

These two are intricate works of art.

Pumpkin decorating ideas: day of the dead Pumpkin decorating ideas tree with leaves

And here is the one that I stole – or at least tried to steal.  For some reason I thought, “hey, I can do that.”

Pumpkin decorating ideas: plant face

I loved the wacky face made up of plants and flowers.

So I got a pumpkin for the head and a small turban squash for a hat.  Luckily some of the plants and flowers used in the Molbaks pumpkin were things I had on hand in my own garden:  I used hen and chicks (an evergreen succulent) for the eyes and clipped Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ flowers for the brim of the hat.  The last summer squash of the season made a perfect nose.

Then I wound up in the basement, sifting through our collection of old hardware, for the mouth.

My efforts yielded this disturbing image.

Pumpkin decorating ideas using what you have on hand
My crazy pumpkin

So what I learned with this one is that it’s fun to use what you have on hand, and there really are no rules.

But there was one more pumpkin at Molbaks that inspired me:  This fun planting of mixed succulents using the pumpkin as a potting container.

Pumpkin decorating ideas: planter

I found a small, lopsided white pumpkin (called a “ghost pumpkin”) with very cool veining trickling down from its stem.  It was such a unique look that I left the stem on and cut the opening for the plant behind it.

Pumpkin decorating ideas: ghost pumpkin planter
Violas with ghost pumpkin

The drawback of course is that these pumpkins won’t last long before they start to get mushy.  By now all the employees have taken their pumpkins home.

But what a fun way to enjoy the season while it lasts!


*Photos of Molbaks employee pumpkins courtesy of Molbaks Garden and Home, Woodinville, WA.


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Master Bathroom Remodel Part 3: Adding the Jewelry

Our Master Bathroom Remodel

This is the last of my three-part series on our master bathroom remodel, where we took a small half-bath and turned it into a large master bathroom.

We went from this:

Master bathroom before remodel
Half bath before remodel

 

To this:

east wall portrait (2)

south wall (2)

toilet alcove (2)

Part 1 covers the planning process, and Part 2 covers the actual remodel process.

The Finishing Touches

In this part, we will zoom in to have a look at some of the little decorative details we added to our master bath after all that heavy lifting was done – the “jewelry,” if you will.

Needless to say, this is the part I had been waiting for.  My decorating style is usually simple, timeless and traditional.  I’m not a fan of clutter, even if it’s cute clutter.  I feel that if you have just a few interesting pieces in a room, they tend to get noticed more.

Using Family Heirlooms

I love to repurpose items and use family heirlooms in new ways.

Here, across from the claw foot tub, we found a great home for an antique dresser that had belonged to Chris’s mother.  She had found it at an estate sale, stripped off the white paint and refinished it.

Since most of the bathroom is so light colored – white wainscoting, white marble – it is nice to have a wood piece to add warmth and contrast.

wash stand (2)

The pitcher and water basin set is also a family heirloom from Chris’s great-grandmother.  The set is very old and also very large.  We were happy to finally have somewhere to display it that made sense.

pitcher closeup (2)

I also could display a few small pieces from my collection of vintage textiles.

Bargain Finds

I had purchased the two blue leaded glass windows 20 years ago – a bargain find from a discount hardware store.  I had been schlepping them around ever since, never really finding the right place to use them.

Finally!  I had them framed and we hung them above the dresser, a fun nod to the other leaded glass windows in the room.

master bath blue glass window
Leaded glass window panels with custom frame

Vintage Mirrors

We have three antique mirrors in this room, two on the walls and one on the makeup vanity.  The makeup vanity mirror was a birthday gift from Chris.  The smaller wall mirror was a bargain find from a second hand store.

It might seem like a lot of mirrors, but this room can handle it.

tub from shower (2)

master bath makeup vanity
Vanity desk with vintage makeup mirror

vanity from mirror

An antique mirror in the toilet alcove reflects the vanity and shower stall

A Crystal Chandelier

The wonderful high ceiling was ideal for hanging this Italian-made crystal chandelier.

master-bath-chandelier-1024x842 (2)

We finished this remodel several years ago, but since we designed it around the existing style of our 1920’s house, we think it will stand the test of time.


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Flower Arranging with Hydrangeas: Three Quick and Easy Ways

Decorating with Hydrangeas

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My mother brought me these beautiful cut hydrangeas from her garden today.  The flowers look so translucent, like they are lit from within.

Mom said that I should put them in water and enjoy them as cut flowers, and that they would eventually dry instead of wilting.

She brought me quite a few, and they are huge flower clusters.  So I am breaking them into three floral arrangements, using some of my favorite vases.

Tall and elegant

For the first one, I am using a large pottery urn – 15 inches tall.  Since the urn is taller than the flower stems, I have filled up the bottom with small florist pebbles.  These pebbles also add some weight so the urn is less likely to be tipped over.

I don’t trust the urn to be water tight, so I am going to inset a jar filled with water for the flowers.  I just have to make sure the jar is small enough for me to be able to fit it in the urn and take it out again later.

Now since hydrangeas are so top-heavy, it’s hard to get them to stay where you want them in an arrangement.  And for this particular arrangement that will be important.

So before I set this little water jar into the urn I will create a grid across the top of it with regular clear tape, which makes it easier to set the flowers in place.

Flower arranging with hydrangeas tape grid
Tape grid over jar

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s best to add the water before making the tape grid.

Now the jar can go into the urn, above the pebbles, and it will only take three hydrangea stems, cut at different lengths, plus a little embellishment from my stash of silk flowers,  to create this arrangement.

Flower arranging with hydrangeas in large pottery urn
Hydrangeas in pottery urn

Sweet and old-fashioned

The second arrangement will be super simple because the hydrangeas will all be cut at the same height and placed in a wide-mouth glass vase.

This vase belonged to my grandmother, and I just love the informal and old-fashioned look it lends to any flower I use in it.

Flower arranging with hydrangeas in vintage vase
Hydrangeas in vintage vase

Because the vase is so wide at the top and the hydrangeas are so top-heavy, they won’t stay in the vase on their own.  And I can’t use a florist frog because it would be visible through the glass.

So I am using the tape grid trick again to keep them in place.

Prim and proper

The third arrangement will be even simpler.  It’s all about the vase I use, which is a small elevated urn.  Then just one cluster of hydrangeas is cut short to sit right on the top of the vase.

Flower arranging hydrangea in footed urn
Hydrangea in footed urn

This simple and elegant arrangement works best displayed at eye level, for example on top of a bookcase.  I love the neat, buttoned-up look of the hydrangea with this urn.

I’m looking forward to seeing how these hydrangeas look when they dry and whether they will change colors.


Resources:

I used my Fiskars Pruners to trim the hydrangeas because they are very easy on my hands.

A unique floral vase doesn’t have to be expensive.  I love these options from Etsy.

amber pitcher brush mccoy pottery greern porcelain vase Hull pottery vase Vintage handblown artglass wedding vase

Amber Pitcher | Bush McCoy Vase | Green Porcelain Vase | Hull Pottery Vase | Vintage Handblown Artglass | Wedding Vase

Okay, the Hull pottery vase IS a bit of a splurge, but it’s pretty dreamy.

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Party Decorating Ideas for Entertaining on a Budget

You don’t need to spend a fortune to create a memorable atmosphere for your guests.  With party decorating, it’s not so much what you spend as how you put it all together.  Here are three easy and affordable ideas.

Idea 1: For a fun inexpensive tablecloth, try a sarong

Sarongs come in so many sizes and patterns and most of them are less expensive than a new tablecloth – and more interesting.  They work as a tablecloth for small tables or as a table topper for larger tables.

(Tip: If the sarong doesn’t stay in place on the table, just use a neutral-colored tablecloth underneath it.)

Party decorating ideas - using a sarong for a tablecloth

This is a sarong I got at an outdoor market in Hawaii for around $10.  For this brunch, I paired it with vintage elements: my antique china, crystal and silverware, and a footed milk glass candy dish as an elevated flower vase.

Which brings me to my second tip.

Idea 2: Buffet table tip – Elevate food to add interest

For your buffet table, make sure your food is presented at different heights.  This creates a far more interesting presentation than if your food is  placed on platters that are all at table height.

Don’t worry if your serving pieces don’t match, and don’t worry if you are using a serving piece for something other than its originally intended use.

For example, it’s okay to elevate an appetizer like bacon wrapped dates by serving them on a footed cake plate.  Next time you are at the thrift store or at a garage sale, look for footed or elevated serving platters.

Party decorating Ideas: Thrift store finds: elevated serving dishes
Thrift store finds: elevated serving dishes

The glass cover, above, although not elevated, lends a vertical element to buffet tables.  You can make your own small elevated serving dish by gluing a small vintage plate to a brass candlestick.  Just make sure it’s stable enough not to tip over if nudged.

Other than food safety, there are no rules here.  So have fun with this one and your buffet table will be more interesting.

Idea 3:  Get creative with flowers

This is a little “old world” trick I learned from my mother, who learned it from her mother.

Times were tough for my mom growing up in Germany during WWII, and her family was barely scraping by.  She and her siblings usually didn’t get birthday gifts, but her mother always made the birthday boy or girl feel like a VIP, starting in the morning when their breakfast plate was ringed with flowers.

Buy why stop at birthdays?  If your event is going to be a sit-down meal, you could add this fun little touch to everyone’s place setting.  You can go subtle with this idea or create a big splash.  The possibilities are endless.

Party decorating ideas:  Nasturtium and salvia with vintage china
Nasturtium and salvia with vintage china

 

You could even use edible flowers like nasturtium, chives and squash blossoms.  (Note: some flowers are poisonous, so if the flowers will be intended for consumption, always make sure first that they are edible.)

Flowers out of season?  Go shopping in your garden for attractive greens to use instead.


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