Whether it’s Memorial Day dinner, a Fourth of July barbecue, an election night bash or you’re just feeling patriotic, here’s how easy it is to create a fun and festive tablescape to fit the occasion:
I recently decorated a red, white and blue table for a local charity event (as shown in the photo accompanying this article), and I was able to do it without spending any money. (NOTE: Dishes, flatware and drinking glasses were not set on the tables for this event.)
LAY THE FOUNDATION
The flag tablecloth I used on the table is one my mother gave me several years ago. It wasn’t large enough to cover the table so I laid it over a red tablecloth I had purchased at a post-Christmas sale. I also layered two small pieces of different fabrics in the center of the table to anchor the centerpiece. Both were “leftovers” from another project. One had a red background featuring white stars and the other was a blue fabric which was also embellished with stars. They weren’t hemmed, but I folded the raw edges of the fabric pieces under for a finished look. (The fabric could also have been hemmed with a sewing machine, cut with a pinking shears to prevent fraying or hemmed using iron-on tape.)
Any red, white or blue tablecloths you own could be layered on your table. If you own a red and white checked tablecloth (a summer picnic classic), it would make a great base for your patriotic table setting.
GATHER THINGS YOU ALREADY OWN
Next you’ll want to gather everything that’s red, white and blue in your household which you might possibly be able to use to create an all-American mood.
You may find that a good place to start, believe it or not, is in your stash of Christmas decorations. You might discover red or white candles and tablecloths, napkins, placemats, or table runners for your table. You should next check your Valentine’s Day decorations for any other red items. Then check your summer items.
Medium or dark blue candles, napkins, table runners, tablecloths, vases or other glassware may also be pressed into service.
Of course, small flags or any items with flag motifs would be great additions to your table.
CREATE YOUR CENTERPIECE
Once you have all the items gathered together, it’s time to have some fun. Group the vases, flags, and other items Americana in the center of your table in a pleasing arrangement to make a centerpiece. If your flower beds contain any red and/or white flowers, place them in blue or clear vases.
In the center of my table I placed a red, white and blue lantern which I hung from a hook. Most table designs look best when the item in the center is somewhat taller as the lantern was. Small boxes or Tupperware containers can be placed on the table to elevate the center items. You will want to cover this “platform” with fabric or a fabric napkin.
Objects I placed on the table encircling the lantern were a vintage schoolbook entitled “The First Thirteen Colonies” with a red, white and blue cover, a star shaped box, a cobalt blue vase into which I placed two small American flags, painted wooden stars purchased at a craft fair several years ago, a set of three red, white and blue cookie cutters, and red, white and blue star-shaped candles. Around this centerpiece I spaced two small cobalt blue vases and five sherbet dishes. I filled each with water and placed little red roses on short stems from the shrub rose in my backyard into the small vases and floated roses in the sherbet dishes.
I finished the centerpiece design by randomly scattering red glass floral stones among and around the centerpiece items to unify them.
CHOOSE YOUR PLACE SETTINGS
If you don’t have dishes in the appropriate patriotic colors, purchase paper or plastic plates, cups and flatware and paper napkins. You will find paper goods with patriotic motifs are readily available, but you may want to consider buying plain red, blue or white products (or a combination of all three colors) as they will be more affordable, and the leftovers may lend themselves to another future occasion.
As diners at this luncheon would be using paper napkins, I used the flag-design fabric napkins I own to decorate the chairs at the table. I laid them over the tops the chairs, pulling the half of the napkin on the front of the chair through the space in the chair back and securing the ends of the napkins with curling ribbon, alternately red and blue ribbon.
When I create similar tables at home, I use my Fiesta stoneware dishes in cinnabar (dark red) and cobalt (deep blue) for a casual table setting. I use vintage Liberty Blue dishes for a more formal feel.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
By using seasonal decorations and other items I already owned, I was able to set this table without spending a penny. And while you may not have shelves and cupboards full of items that would lend themselves to this theme, your local dollar and discount stores have many affordable items you can use to create a festive table.
Another great source for inexpensive patriotic decorations is Oriental Trading Company (www.orientaltrading.com).
Budget decorating can be a challenge, but it’s fun, too!
Sources: www.oriental trading.com, www.ebay.com