Terrific Holiday Tables

by Angie Zalewski and Deana Ricks

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Entertaining this holiday season is easy with table settings that are fun and thrifty.

Pumpkin Giveaway

Many gardening centers give their leftover pumpkins away for free after Halloween. Snag a couple to make a seasonal centerpiece. Arrange with other gourds or fall leaves.

Thankful Notes

Make your holiday table special. For Thanksgiving dinner, write a Bible verse about giving thanks on a small piece of paper. Roll it into a scroll and tie with ribbon or string. Each person reads a verse to the group and describes what it means to them and what they are thankful for. Or write a short personal note about why you are thankful for each person. Write their names on the envelope and use them as a place cards.

Pineapple Turkey

For a clever and edible Thanksgiving centerpiece, take a whole pineapple and place it on its side. The pineapple leaves will act as the turkey's tail feathers. Attach a homemade paper or cloth turkey head in the other end.

Tip Top Table

Table coverings turn an ordinary table into a party presentation. Interesting tablecloths can be found at garage sales or thrift stores. Or use a colorful scarf as a table runner and sheets as tablecloths. Sheets clean easily and most don't need ironing. Tie the sheet at the corners with ribbons for a decorative touch.

Table Cloth Memories

Cover your table with large sheets of white paper and secure with tape. Have the kids draw a holiday picture on it. To involve everyone, put a pen next to each place setting and have the guests jot down a special thought or memory. For a keepsake tablecloth, use a solid light color sheet and give everyone fabric pens or permanent markers. Put a protective layer between the sheet and the table. Use this tablecloth each year and have your guests add a new sentiment. Be sure to sign and date each note.

Under It All

Cover your table with holiday wrapping paper. Then top with a sheet of clear vinyl. You can reuse the wrapping paper and keep the vinyl for other gatherings. Clear vinyl can be purchased in fabric departments at discount stores.

Party Themes

When decorating for a party, pick a theme based on what you already have. Red and green are obvious choices for Christmas but if you already have lots of blue plates and napkins left over from July 4th, make your party a blue and silver winter wonderland. Throw in some hand cut snowflakes and you're set.

A Bright Idea

Candles make your party more elegant. A collection of votives or candlesticks make a beautiful and frugal centerpiece or buffet table decoration. If you're short of candleholders, hollow out apples, oranges or mini pumpkins and place taper or votive candles inside.

Cheaper Centerpieces

Create a simple centerpiece with a bowl of red apples or clove-studded oranges. Loaves of home baked bread and wheat stalks make a beautiful edible centerpiece or save money by using decorations from nature In the fall, make an arrangement of autumn leaves, twigs, wild berries or acorns. At Christmas time, use pine boughs or a bowl of pinecones.

Nicer Napkins

Cloth napkins dress up any occasion and they're economical. Unlike paper, they can be used again and again. Fabric napkins can be made from almost any material like the Christmas blouse you stained last year. Get a book from the library about napkin folding to make them more interesting. Create your own napkin rings with cookie cutters.

These tips and more can be found in Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends: Over 500 Tips, Tricks, and Creative Ideas for Saving Money by Angie Zalewski and Deana Ricks (Starburst Publishers 2001). Angie and Deana are founders of the Frugal Family Network, Inc. and have been featured in the LA Times, Washington Times, and Modern Maturity. "Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends" is available at your local bookstore or by calling 1 800-441-1456.

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