Summer is the ideal time to host an outdoor dinner party, and decorations can run up the tab, but here are some convenient, quick, and inexpensive ways to make your table look like a creative masterpiece.

  • Candles can really run up the bill, luckily the 99-cent store has a ton.  The best are the religious candles. They are tall, white, and as promised, cost only a dollar a piece. For thirty dollars you can literally fill the table with candlelight.  I like to remove the religious affiliated labels.  If you have a deep kitchen sink, fill it or your bathtub, with warm water.  Place all the candles in and let them soak for up to 20 minutes.  The labels will peel right off and you’re left with gleaming, tall, beautiful candlelight.
  • Make your own tablecloth.  Visit your local fabric store, have an employee cut the fabric of your choice, and that’s it.  You’re out the door.  Don’t bother hemming the ends. Leave them undone for a summer-rustic look. 
  • Use citrus in your centerpiece floral display.  A couple of limes and lemons are much cheaper than flowers.  Slice them thin and place inside a simple clear vase. Add a few pieces of green and you end up with an elegant and expensive-looking centerpiece.
  • Thrift stores are filled to the brim with colored or clear glass bottles. Buy in groups of three (small, medium, and large) for the center and both ends of the table, fill with wild flowers, or a single stem.
  • Borrow from friends. If you spend a little time planning ahead, you’d be surprised what friends (or family) have hiding in their linen cabinets or garages. Most of the time, everyone is happy to help out (as long as they get an invite!).

-Arianna Schioldager

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