Way back in the day, when I was a very young lady buying a home with my first boyfriend, money was always very tight. I really wanted to decorate for Christmas and create something special, but my budget was itty bitty. That’s the year I began my love affair with Dollar Tree. I found all sorts of ways to decorate with whatever I could find and I ended up with something pretty great! I also bought a lot of dishes there, amongst many other things for the home. I’ve even got my friends into Dollar Tree. I’ve passed on the knowledge, although a lot of people don’t believe me when I say what you can do with the treasures you find. I feel like you see a lot of Pinterest ideas on how to repurpose finds and to be honest, a lot of it isn’t so great. However, I stand by being able to do some beautiful things if you stick to this formula.
Pick a color palette and stay within it. This is not to say you can’t do something funky, which you totally can, this is just the easiest way to get from point a to point b. Pick your colors and the tones you want to work with and stick with it. Attack with a plan!
Start by looking for those finds that look like they don’t belong. The items that are obviously better quality than a dollar. Some examples of this are my plates here, which are sturdy and the gold ring gives them a simple elegance. The candles and candle pedestals are items that could be from anywhere. There’s truly no telling the difference between them and any other simple candle bought elsewhere.
Next, start looking for other pieces that check boxes on your tablescape list. You’ll want to make a list before shopping so you know what kind of items you’re looking for and need to create your tablescape. For example, I wanted something underneath my plates to give them some dimension and the plastic gold plates were perfect! I wanted some sort of glassware for drinks and Dollar Tree always has plenty of options in that department. Napkins are a necessity, although these napkins are the only thing you see that I didn’t buy from Dollar Tree because I forgot to put them on the list. No one is perfect. Lol. I wanted something pretty to decorate the napkins, so I looked for something I could easily tie with a string or ribbon, which I also needed. Check all the necessities off the list.
Now here comes the fun part. I like to take inventory of all the things I’ve found so far. Have I checked everything off the necessities list? What have I found that fits and is high quality? It’s time to get creative! I scour for anything else in the color story and spend a moment brainstorming whatever I find. I knew I wanted to include some tan to tie in the jute string I was using throughout and I found these pretty burlap bows that would look so pretty on a plate. I was still on the hunt for lots of items for the center of my tablescape, so I just grabbed all the white and gold things that sparkled and got lots! 9 tinsel trees, four sparkly white ones, two sets of gold bulbs, etc. Your basket should start to tell a story at this point. You’ll look down and see it coming together.
Lastly, we’re looking for items that are close to what you want, but not quite right. Also, keep and eye out for random items that are the right colors. I once turned a feather duster into a wreath and I’ve used candy canes to upgrade a vase. Anyway, this year I loved the Christmas village. They were such cute little houses, but they were very colorful. This is where repurposing comes in! I knew I could easily spray paint them to fit the theme. So easy! If I could have found nutcrackers I would have also painted them, maybe in gold. I tried on six occasions between three stores to find them and I never found even one. People keep saying the nutcrackers are out there, but I think they’re a Dollar Tree myth. You can truly do endless things. In the past I’ve painted plates, glued different items together to create something new, cut things apart to turn them into something else, and so on.
I think you’ll be pretty stocked up at this point, although inventory and make sure you have plenty for your centerpiece or centerpiece runner. I honestly think more is more. I like to load up the center, but you do you. I feel like I generally spend between $60-$75 for a full tablescape. I realize that can still be quite a lot, but this is to create a full seating arrangement for 6 people that looks legit. Plus, a lot of the items are easily repurposed elsewhere when Christmas is over. Things like any dinnerware are obviously something you can keep using and candles are easy fillers for decor around the home.
Now we need to put it all together! I have a process that has never steered me wrong as far as tablescapes go. Always start with your base, which is your dinnerware. Set your glasses, plates (and whatever you want underneath, if anything), silverware (I omitted on my table because I think everyone already has silverware), napkins, and any other serving item you want out. You can also place anything else in the place setting that you knew exactly what to do with, like my snowflakes I used to tie my napkins. Also, if you’ve made a runner of some sort, this goes first. A great hack is to use some wrapping paper. You’ll want to do something to the ends though so it looks finished, so get creative! If I had found the right colored paper, I had planned to cut the ends into two points like a sports flag and glue snowflakes around the edge to hide the fact that it’s paper. Next, start placing in large pieces that you know what you’re doing with. I spaced out all my trees and candles and played until they looked nice. I then would add any piece you’ve updated, such as my painted Christmas village. Finally, we can look at those extra pieces we’ve bought that are in our color story that we didn’t have an exact plan for. I had the burlap bows that looked adorable to finish the plates, which really needed something. I used my big snowflakes to add a little love to the gaps between place settings. My tan candy canes ended up sooo adorable as an accessory to my bows. If you put them in the loop the right way they create a heart. Then, I was just left with some gold Christmas ornaments, which I decided to hang from my light. I found a use for everything I bought, which came out to $67 total.
Itemized shopping list:
Gold christmas ornaments – $2
Twine – $1
Snowflakes – $2
Gold plates – $6
White plates – $6
Wine glasses – $6
Beige bows – $3
Candy canes – $3
Mini snowflakes – $1
Christmas village – $6
Pine cones – $2
Short candles – $8
Tall candles – $4
Candle pedestals – $4
Gold trees – $9
White trees – $4
Total = $67
Not to toot my own horn, but I feel like this looks very chic. My neighbors were over for Christmas dinner last night and I used this setup. They were shocked everything was from Dollar Tree. I truly believe you can create something spectacular if you get creative with what you can afford, and if you’re feeling unsure, just follow my formula and you’ll do great. If you’re still unsure or need help, message me on Instagram and I got you!