Your Reading List

Stylish, affordable entertaining

Around the House: Decorating for a special event doesn’t have to be expensive

Centrepieces were created from items from the thrift store and silver lids from take-out food containers.

My husband and I recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, and our decorating ideas were stylish and affordable that could be used for any special event.


I didn’t want to invite guests by email or text to this event. At the dollar store I found a wedding invitation set embossed with a silver design. It included invitations with silver-lined envelopes, programs, and place cards on good-quality paper for $3. I printed on the invitations on my computer in a light-grey (silvery) font, and used the programs to print photos of us over the years, which went on each dinner table. If you don’t find what you’re looking for at the dollar store check out a local thrift store. There are often unopened packages of party invites for various events. People often buy more than they need and end up donating new packages to the thrift store. You can also purchase decorative printer paper and use your computer to create a great invitation.


If you are using a large rented room you’ll want the tables to be dressed in a similar fashion. I used round plastic tablecloths from the dollar store — not very heavy — but once all of the tables were draped they did the trick. If you’re entertaining a smaller affair at home, use linen cloths if you have them and they fit the event. Even items like inexpensive white shower curtain liners could work. You’d have to trim off the top grommets/holes and put the curtains briefly in the dryer to get out the fold marks.

Plastic tablecloths were purchased from the dollar store as well as the cards on the table.
Plastic tablecloths were purchased from the dollar store as well as the cards on the table. photo: Connie Oliver


For centrepieces I collected 25th anniversary dishes from the thrift store for a few months prior to the party and put a tea light inside each one. I placed these centrepieces on a silver disc, which were actually takeout food lids! (Anything silver was fair game.) Around some of the centrepieces I draped vintage silver necklaces, which I also found at the thrift store for a few dollars. Any decorative items you have on hand could work, such as old jewelry, Christmas decorations (silver balls and bells for a 25th celebration), small game pieces or children’s toys for a baby shower.

For a wedding or baby shower use vintage matching teacups and saucers in a mix of patterns and styles, place a fresh flower or tea light in each, and set on a paper doily.

I happened to find a few bags of silver, star-shaped confetti at the thrift store, which I also put around some of the centrepieces for our anniversary.

Another fun idea is to use large mason jars filled with water and pussy willow branches. Mason jars can be found in abundance at the thrift store and you don’t have to worry about needing lids. Use food colouring in the water if you have a specific colour scheme in mind.

Guest book table

For our party I bought a leftover roll of silver foil wrap at the thrift store and used it to drape the guest book table. In the centre of this table I placed a large ceramic Hershey Kiss-shaped dish that I bought at a second-hand shop for 10 bucks and filled it with silver Hershey Kisses. The dish sat on a silver tray that I got — you guessed it — at the thrift store.

We had a light lunch including punch served in a punch bowl from the thrift store. At the dollar store I purchased a plastic, silver ladle to serve the punch. I found silver-accented paper plates, cups and napkins at the dollar store that went with the theme. We had coffee and tea and I just happened to find a creamer, sugar bowl and tray set with a 25th anniversary on it at the thrift store. Sugar cubes with silver tongs from the dollar store finished the look.

At the thrift store I also bought 25th anniversary silver balloons and a new seven-foot silver anniversary banner to help with the decorations.

I might have spent $30 to $40 on all of these items, and I donated the dishes back to the thrift store once the party was over.

Entertaining friends and family can be an enjoyable endeavour. Plan ahead and start gathering items. You’d be surprised what you can find once you have an idea in mind, and I proved that it doesn’t have to be expensive.

About the author


Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Gimli, Manitoba.

Connie Oliver's recent articles



Stories from our other publications