The definition of insanity: Hosting a holiday gathering at your house with over 20 attendees.
Or something like that. Merriam-Webster probably wouldn’t argue.
Okay, okay truth be told, Robert and I actually love hosting big family gatherings at our house. Last week, we had 19 people over for Thanksgiving and the year before we had a grand total of about 25. If it weren’t for geography spreading out our families, we could fill close to 200 seats easily with just our relatives. We love love love our crazy bunch!
But I also love love love decorating the house to welcome our loved ones and one of the biggest challenges is definitely creating a pretty table for very little money.
So this year, I pulled out a bunch of penny-pinching tricks that would work for any big holiday gathering. And then I realized, hey, why not share them with y’all?
What you’ll need: (Affiliate links are provided below for convenience. For more info, see my full disclosure here.)
- Christmas tree trimmings (free!)
- White flat bedsheets, fabric, or tablecloths (free or at least very cheap from thrift stores)
- Burlap roll (I got mine for $8 at Walmart in the florist aisle.)
- Pinecones (free!)
- Various thrifted candleholders or wood slices (My candleholders were $2 each and the wood slices were free.)
- Candles of the same color (Sometimes I pick mine up at the dollar store or for $3 each at Walmart.)
Total for all of my table decor: $32
When Robert and I were picking out our Christmas tree from the lot (because we’re the crazy early bird people to practically assault the guys unloading the trees off the back of the truck), we asked if they had any tree trimmings they’d be willing to give us. And they said yes!
They were just going to haul it all off to the trash anyway. Snaps for recycling! We ended up with waaaay more than we needed. I’m sure many Christmas tree lots are willing to give up their trimmings if you ask.
Pretty much every time I decorate our table for any season of the year (like this one from spring and this one from fall), I use an $8 roll of burlap from Walmart. It’s the perfect size for a table runner, and the edges are already serged. This one roll spanned across our three long tables. Good luck finding a runner that long for that cheap.
For Thanksgiving, we pulled out two long plastic and metal folding tables and butted them up to our existing kitchen table.
I spread out my mother-in-law’s hand-me-down white tablecloths, but if you don’t have tablecloths already, you can keep an eye out at thrift stores or use white bedsheets you might already have. Seriously, no one will know. And if they say something, just refuse them dinner. Kidding! Kinda.
Once I rolled out my burlap “runner”, I spaced my thrifted candleholders and wood slices, alternating them in a line on top of the burlap. These wood slices were cut from a tree and were leftovers from our faux fireplace build.
Then, just put in your candles. I love off-white because I can use them any time of year, hence more budget-friendly. Colors like red and orange are limiting in spring and summer if you need them then.
Between all of the candleholders, I tucked in the Christmas tree trimmings and I placed pinecones throughout.
Voila! Instant fancy schmancy holiday table. I like buying the silver plastic cutlery and wrapping them up in the cloth-feeling paper towels with twine too. (Dishes after 20 guests? Ain’t nobody got time for that.)
And since we painted our lovely 70s orange metal folding chairs with a white grainsack look, we don’t feel quite so retro when we have to pull them out of storage for all of our company.
What do you think? A table fit for stuffing faces? The food was almost as amazing as the people around this table. Thanksgiving 2015: Success. As much as I loved hosting, I’m really glad the responsibility for Christmas dinner isn’t on my shoulders this time. (Thanks, Mom!)
Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for decorating at a big family gathering? And with still having money for the actual food? There’s something about a pretty table that makes it even more special…and maybe encourages the little ones to not throw food. A mom can dream, right?