How to create a Great Gatsby-style party table on a budget

If you want to dress your dining table for a special event, here are some thrifty tips & easy DIYs you can use to create beautiful party place settings and festive tablescapes...

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Dressing your table for a special occasion can soon add up. Sure, you can buy new chargers or placemats, a table runner, place-cards, tablecloth and centrepiece to suit the theme of your dinner party, but you’ll end up storing lots of multiples that you might only use once, and the cost will eat into your budget for the event. So, I’ve come up with some super-easy DIYs that’ll enable you to get a playful party look to suit any occasion…

Dressing the table

This step couldn’t be easier, as it’s more of an assembly process than a DIY. But the key here is not spending a small fortune on themed dressings for your table. I suggest using a flat bedsheet as the tablecloth. It could be one that you already have at home – a plain white or grey makes a great base layer – or you could see what’s available in the bedding section of your local charity shop. Simply wash and iron the bed sheet and drape it over your party table.

To create a runner without splashing out on a pricey fabric one. I suggest using a roll of wrapping paper or left-over wallpaper. It’s easy to find a colour and pattern to suit your party theme and gift wrap should only set you back a couple of pounds. If you already have an offcut of wallpaper from a room you’ve decorated, even better! And using matching wallpaper is actually a great way to make your dining table fit in with the décor of the room.

A low-cost alternative to placemats or charger plates is using colourful cardboard. An A4 sheet should be big enough to surround a dinner plate and you can buy packs of multi-coloured card to suit the theme of your party. Here, I’ve used metallic gold card to pick out the gold pattern of the paper table runner and it came in pack of 8 sheets for just £1. Add white plates and you’ve got a great base for the rest of your table décor.

Place settings

A great way to decorate a place setting is with foliage from the garden. I decided to tie this into the gold Great Gatsby theme by spraying the sprigs of rosemary with a metallic gold food-colouring spray – as used for cake decorating. Simply pick some lengths of rosemary, lavender, or any other herbs you have in the garden. Remove the lower leaves from the sprig and coat with the edible gold paint. You’ll need to turn the sprigs over to ensure you’ve covered the leaves from all angles. Allow to dry thoroughly. I recommend spraying well in advance so that it has time to dry.

To create an impressive place setting I’ve rolled my cutlery in a low-cost gold paper napkin and have tied it with gold string. You could use any ribbon or string you have at home or choose a specific colour to tie it into your party theme. Then tuck the gold spring beneath the bow (but away from the cutlery) to decorate the cutlery wrap.

If you fancy going even more luxurious for a special occasion, it’s possible to get custom napkins with logo printed on them, so you could design a Great Gatsby-style art deco logo and have it printed with a gold foil finish; super-luxe! This is a lovely idea for engagement parties and weddings, as well as big birthdays and special anniversaries.

To create a place setting, simply cut a piece of the gold card into a small luggage-tag shape. Turn it over and stick a glittery letter onto the white side. This pack of glittery letter stickers was only £1 from the craft section of a budget shop. Use a hole punch to create a hole in the top of the tag and tie this onto the bow.


There are two ways to decorate your glasses to tie them into the party theme. Firstly, you can adorn the base of the glass with glitter. Simply paint a thin coat of PVA glue onto the underside of the stem. Allow the glue to become tacky and the dip it into glitter – I’ve used gold to coordinate with the Great Gatsby theme. Then, cover the glitter layer with more PVA glue to seal it. Allow it to dry thoroughly before using. This technique means that you won’t be able to wash the glasses in a dishwasher in the future, but you can actually ‘peel’ off the glittery layer to return the glasses to normal.

Another simple technique to dress up your cocktail glasses for a party is with patterned washi tape. These rolls of sticky tape are low-cost and can add sparkle to the stems of glasses. Simply cut a length of the tape and wrap it around the stem. You can use different patterns so that guests can keep track of which glass is theirs and the tape can easily be removed at the end of the party. I used metallic gold with white stars and a gold striped pattern that matches the paper straws.


If you want to elevate a dining table to party table status, you need a centrepiece. But it needn’t be an expensive floral display – in fact, it can sometimes be difficult to see over floral centrepieces when you’re chatting to the other party guests. Instead, why not use that edible spray paint to decorate some beyond-their-best fruit? You can get gone-off fruit from market stalls at the end of the day for knock-down prices and, even though they might not be suitable to eat, they’ll look good for a few days as a centrepiece for your party table.

Simply coat with edible paint, using a colour that coordinates with your party table. It’s better to use fine layers and build up the colour, turning the fruit so that you can cover it from all angles. We’ve all got crusty lemons and oranges in the fruit bowl at home, so why not reuse these as your centrepiece and position the fruit in a glass dish? I’ve used a past-its-best pineapple to add that Art Deco vibe. Be sure to allow the edible paint to dry before adding to your table.

One element that is sure to upgrade your dining table is lighting. Glittering lights are sure to create a party atmosphere so you could use some wire LED fairy lights from your Christmas decorations to drape around the metallic fruit bowl. Or, why not use LED candles, like I have? These battery-powered tea lights can be wrapped with a collar of metallic card and then popped into a cut-glass tumbler. The gold colour and flickering light will reflect in the facets of the glass to create a classy way to illuminate your party table.

And there you have it, a themed party table that you can recreate in any combination of colours and patterns to suit the occasion. With the festive season coming up, you could recreate this look using red tones and green foliage, or you could use silver and white snowflake-patterned gift wrap to create a snowy scene.

I hope this blog post has given you some ideas for preparing for a festive party this year. I’d love to hear your own ideas for creating a pretty tablescape on a budget so please leave your party hacks in the comments below. 🙂

Recently, I shared a step-by-step guide to turn a writing desk into a cocktail cabinet so have a look at the DIY project (sneak peek below!) and have a go at creating your own decadent drinks station ready for the party season!

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This article is a sponsored collaboration. The pink links in the content indicate a sponsored link or information source. The blog post reflects my own experience and the sponsor hasn’t had any control over my content 🙂

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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