I had no idea just how expensive tableware is until I started shopping for it. Those fun, funky placemats you see on HGTV can run $16 a pop! Um, WUT? I dunno about you, but we don't have $128 (8 placemats x $16/each) to spend on fabric. Instead, I opted for butcher paper. Not only was it cheap, but the paper ads an element of fun, since guests can draw and play games while they're waiting for food.
Same story. Cloth napkins and napkin rings are outrageously priced -- at least, I think so. The cheapest set of cloth napkins I was able to find was 4 for $12. Instead, I made my own napkins out of dish towels (which are much more affordable). I cut each dish towel in half and tied a twine bow around it for added detail.
If you're reading this, make me a promise: Don't ever purchase another vase (or woven basket) from a retail store again. You can get these same items at thrift stores for a fraction of the price, which is exactly what I did. I had planned to keep costs down by filling both vases with baby's breath, an inexpensive white flower that looks a little like snow. Sadly, the store was flat outa baby's breath. After much pacing, I opted for white roses. Roses are usually pricey, but thanks to the store's special, I was able to get a dozen for $10!
Our dining table, which I salvaged from a second-hand furniture store when I lived in Nebraska, has four chairs. FOUR. We invited six. (If you're counting, that means had a total of 8). To expand seating, we saddled a fold-out card table and chair set next to our regular table. We got the table and chair set from Target, but here's the catch: The day after the party, we returned it. Not only do we not have room in our condo to store something this big, but we weren't sure if we'd use again.
This is a trick I've used before, and I love it. I will never buy a pre-made fruit and cheese tray again! By making my own cheese spread and dicing blocks of cheddar, Gouda and swiss, I was able to treat my guests to all sorts of tasty cheeses at a fraction of the price! Plus, because I'm DYI-ing it, I'm able to select the fruits cheeses I prefer, rather than going with what's given to me.