How to set a fun party table


Turn the table into a party by itself with some clever ideas from Bruce Littlefield, author of Merry Christmas, America. Here's how to set a fun party table.

How to set a fun party table
  • Have fun and be creative with your party table decorations - regardless of the occasion.
  • Materials don't have to be expensive if you use your imagination and shop at dollar stores, craft stores, or big-box retailers.
  • Napkin ring decorations: Don't settle for traditional circles made of wood, metal or ceramic. Use cans from the ingredients your are serving at the party. If you are serving Italian, use Italian tomato cans. Remove both the top and bottom of you cans, wash and dry thoroughly, and use to make a creative napkin holder.
  • Place card decorations: Consider place pots instead. Get small pots for growing peas from your local garden-supply store, and write your guests' names on the pots. Fill them with uncooked grains of rice. Take a long toothpick or skewer and wrap it with a decorative pipe cleaner and attach it to a decoration that you have made from pipe cleaners or other small object, and use it as a place card.
  • Place cards for a kid's party: Use a Jell-O mold. Label it, and fill it with jellybeans or other candy, and place your decoration into the jellybeans on the toothpick or skewer. (To serve candy in a creative fashion, use old farm produce boxes if you can find them. If they are not available, use a colorful box from your supermarket or produce store that is used for berries or small tomatoes. Label the boxes, and line them with 2 squares of wax paper. Fill with assorted candy.
  • Centerpiece decorations: Don't just fill a vase with water and flowers. Buy rubber or plastic toys at your local big-box retailer or toy store that are themed to your party, and put them into the vase along with the flowers.
  • Remember that the key is to have fun with inexpensive table decorating ideas; don't be bound by tradition - let your creativity be your guide.

Hey there, everybody, I’m Bruce Littlefield for, and today I’m going to show you how to make a party on your table. No matter what time of year it is, you can have fun on your table, whether it’s a holiday, a birthday, or an everyday. The thing is, you can do this and it does not have to be expensive. You can do it for very little money — almost cheap. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and tell you — it could be cheap. Dollar stores, craft stores, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Target; all those stores you can have some fun and make your table look good.

So, I’ve got my napkin, very simple. I take a normal napkin ring and that looks fine, but not very exciting. But if you take, let’s say you’re having an Italian dinner, you take your cans of tomatoes that you used to make your dinner and voila! You have a perfect Italian place setting. So, you can do that same thing. But you’re going, “We don’t have Italian at my house, we have Mexican.” So you can do the same thing. I went to the bodega and got an incredible, cute little sombrero, and when I had a Mexican dinner party I tied that around there. And literally, for $1 a place setting. And my guests got to go home with their sombrero. One person did put it on their Chihuahua, I heard.

So, let’s say you’re having a big dinner party and you want people to sit around your table in a designated spot. The great thing that you can do is not have a place card; but instead, have a place pot. These are pea pots. I got them at a garden store, and you can make dirt with rice. I’m going to show you how to make this really clever and cute. Take your rice, put it inside. That fills up and makes your dirt. And then, take a toothpick or a long skewer and take your — I shortened mine because I don’t want my flower to be too tall — take a cute little decoration of some sort. Take a pipe cleaner, you want to give it some extra pizzazz and actually figure out how to hold it in place. Just wrap your pipe cleaner and I put it in its soil. Voila! That’s fun.

All right, let’s say you’re having fun with kids; you’re going to have a kids’ party. I’ve got a few ideas on that, too. They don’t want to have rice; they want to have something different. Not Jell-O, but I’m using a Jell-O mold. These you can find at garage sales. You see them all the time or you can buy them new in a regular retail store. Take jellybeans; fill your Jell-O mold as your dirt with jellybeans. And then take your decoration, your fun, put that in there so each kid can find their own flower in their own spot at the table which is really nice, really fun.

Now, speaking of candy. I have an idea for candy. These I also found; and I love these. These you can also get; but I got these at an old barn sale. They had hundreds of these, so of course I bought every one of them that I could.

I have a great idea for kids, and I want to show you something. You take your regular wax paper. Cut yourself a square. And I want to show you how taking the extra step matters. That looks pretty good, but watch when I do two squares of wax paper. Suddenly, like tissue paper in a bag, it becomes a little more visually exciting.

And then you take candy; this is great for Halloween party, birthday party, that kind of thing with kids; and suddenly you put those down on the table and the kids go wild. If you want to take it an extra step you can take a pen and write your kids’ names, if they’re going to sit in a special spot. Easy, breezy fun.

All right, I’ve got another great idea for a centerpiece. Now this can be done anytime, anywhere. You might do this for taking it to a nursing home, taking it to your friends in the hospital, having a bridal shower, having a birthday party or doing it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, that kind of thing. And what I do is I go to the dollar store and I buy myself as many rubber or plastic toys as I can. I put them in a vase. Any vase will do. And suddenly, I have a flower arrangement that is a lot more fun and it’s very visually exciting on the table. Very easy.

Take a trip to your local five and dime, dollar store, Target, Wal-Mart and you can do this at home, too. For, I’m Bruce Littlefield.

meet theexpert
  • Bruce Littlefield

    Bruce Littlefield Design and Lifestyle Guru Bruce Littlefield is a New York-based designer, writer, and restaurateur. Hailed as a "design and lifestyle guru" by Publisher's Weekly, he is the author of the recently published Merry Christmas, America!: Megawatt Displays Across the U.S.A. (HarperCollins 2007), Garage Sale America and Airstream Living (HarperCollins 2007), and co-writer of the best-selling Use What You've Got and Other Business Lessons I learned from My Mom (Penguin Group) with real-estate magnate Barbara Corcoran. The Today more about this expert »