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.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
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One Reply to “Party Decorating Ideas for Entertaining on a Budget”

  1. Some fun tips! I love serving things at different elevations. It looks so lovely. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

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