This post was born out of a readers question. Tami asked,

“Your tablescapes are SO BEAUTIFUL and INSPIRING! I have one question though, if you could only pick ten items, or even five, that you use over and over again, what would they be? I’m on a limited budget and need to choose carefully. Would love to hear your thoughts. Beautiful job! Thanks.”

Thanks Tami… your answer is in this post!  Here are ten items that I use over and over and over again to set a many of my tables… and I did not spend a lot of money for any of them!  They are by far my favorites!






This is the number 1 first thing I would buy! A great set of white dishes goes with everything. No pattern, no other color, maybe an interesting edge. I would get at least 8 place setting. If you get a classic design you can add to it as you go! My very favorite workhorse dishes that I have had for almost 20 years are my Mikasa Italian Countryside (2nd from the bottom).



After you get 1 set of great white dishes start collecting other white dishes. White dishes are gorgeous stacked together! I pick up most of my dishes on sale or at stores like, HomeGoods, Target, TJ Maxx and my local department stores.


white dishes, different



One of my favorite tricks when setting a table is to use an accent plate or bowl. These are small pieces that brings color, theme or season to your tablescape!  Accent dishes are usually inexpensive and are just plain FUN! My favorite colors to collect are blue, green and black and white!





Even if you find 2 or three accent dishes… buy them! They are also fun to mix and match!






This might sound a little unusual, but buy a couple of cake stands in different sizes. They make wonderful elevated surfaces to display dishes, napkin and flatware! Maybe I have a “thing” for them because I use them in the kitchen and dining room and not just on the tables! The top pedestal in the picture below only cost $3.99!


white pedestal cake


And white pedestal cake plates make a great centerpiece and a riser for a centerpiece!


white pedestal cake



Use stemmed glasses. A set of wonderfully styled goblets can elevate dinner to dining!  But they don’t have to cost a lot! I got my “white bubble glasses” for 97 cents each on sale at Reading China and Glass. They are my go-to drink glasses!





A white pitcher can either hold water for the the table… or be used as a centerpiece to hold flowers! Most of the time my pitchers hold flowers…



or old silver!

silverware in




This is where we can be creative and thrifty! Vintage and thrift shops are full of wonderful old silverplate flatware and stainless. I got a 12 place settings of silverplate for $40.00! Go on a hunt… bargain, barter and find that great cheap silver!




Here’s the other alternative and it’s also a bargain! White handled flatware. It’s not going to be as heavy and “good” but it is sassy! And if whites not what you want, it comes in so many other colors!


white handled



Napkins are not only necessary but the can set the mood of a table. Start out with a set of great white napkins and build a collection from there!






Fun napkin folds can add a whole lot of interest to any table!  Learn two or three and make sure they are easy to reproduce. Here’s a couple I use often and how to make them…

easy napkin





Buy in INEXPENSIVE white tablecloth. The plainer the better. Here’s my philosophy on white tablecloths. Don’t spend over $20.00! When it get’s stained you can bleach it and when it wears out it owes you nothing. Don’t buy a tablecloth that you have to protect or dry clean! The upkeep is not worth it unless you have extra money burning a hole in your pocket!


As your collection grows add some natural placemats. They look great with a white tablecloth and can be used alone.





Your table does not have to be fancy or elaborate or take a lot of time to put together, but the more you practice the better you will get! Setting a table is one of the special things I do! It’s not an item, but it is very important!


set a table every


Well, Tami… there you have it! 10 easy, inexpensive things I used over and over when creating tablescapes.  Start with white dishes and add on from there!  BTW, thanks for asking!

What is your number 1 must-have favorite tablescaping item? Let’s share!


You might want to Pin this to your Pinterest tablescaping or decorating board!




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  1. This is a lovely post! It really is that simple to make dining at home more like dining in a fancy restaurant. I would add lit candles,too. Yvonne, you write in such an appealing way that you make everyone feel like they could do this.

  2. Very nice settings, they all look lovely. How do you set your table when it is not set for dinner? Do you have a pot on just table scapes when the table is not set for dinner.. We never have company and I have to beg my family to eat in the dining room. I also have to con them into letting me use my 35 year old Noritaki China!

    I have inherited the dining set and a wonderful table cloth. Where can I find an inexpensive white cotton table cloth? I want something pretty of good quality I can wash over and over again.


    1. HI Cindy, I like to shop for things like that at HomeGoods, JC Penny, TJ Maxx, and other nicer discount stores. Hope this helps.

  3. I agree with Debrn, candles are inexpensive and really set a mood.
    I have always loved your tables capes, and noticed that you often use those chunky mercury glass candle bases, so I invested in a pair and use them all of the time.

  4. I find so many things in the clearance aisle. I try hard to look for classic everything and use it as long as possible. I love white dishes too but have limited storage.

  5. Yvonne: As always, a lovely post. Your blog is lovely and always inspiring. It is a treat to receive. Thanks for all you do to brighten others days. And, I must not forget to say thanks for the wonderful recipes!

  6. Ahh your tablescapes!! They are what first drew me to StoneGable. I love them and am so inspired by them. I do a themed Tablescape for each of the family for their birthdays in a theme that suits them and their interests, it’s so much fun.

    1. Cathy Hernandez says:

      Love the idea. Both my girls will be attending the university in the fall. This will be fun for Birthday weekend celebration.

  7. EXCELLENT advice/suggestions/must haves!

    You do up someof the most amazing tablescapes around blogland, Yvonne.

    Thank you for this post!

    I’d love to see you do more “10 best xxx blah blah” it’s fun to see it in that format!

    : – )

  8. Hello Yvonne!

    I just found your blog and love it!! This post was especially helpful! I’ll have to explore more when I have time!

    I pinned almost every photo to my Tablescapes board! I will come back often for more inspiration! Your site is beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Jan, Welcome to the StoneGable family! I love love love my pinners!

  9. What a great question, followed by a fabulous answer! I’m a collector of dishes – I would have a collection for each day of the week and each and every holiday….if I could. With our recent downsizing and trying to keep the hubby happy I have to be more selective when I buy something. But it is hard to pass up a good bargin or a great set of antique plates. I love them ALL! Great post Yvonne.

  10. Your tablescapes are what drew me to your blog and then seeing all of your creative ideas, well, I’ve been a follower ever since! I always look forward to seeing what you come up with next!!

  11. Yvonne,
    Have a question. When you have more than a dinner plate and salad plate, what are your courses you serve on them and how do you take away, before you get to the dinner plate? My quests just don’t get all the dishes! Thanks!

    1. Pamela, the amount of the dishes on my table often do not reflect the amount of course during dinner. I usually take the plates away before serving the first course. Hope this helps.

  12. I love the white dishes idea and adding all the cute accent plates and bowls! Such wonderful ideas and helpful hints. Hard for me to go into TJ Max and pass up a white pitcher or cake pedastal! lol I’m on a hunt for one of the white bunny bowls you had in one of your other post. I just love BUNNIES! 🙂

    1. Pitchers and white dishes are my weakness too! And don’t get me started on cake pedestals!

  13. says:

    I read a great many blogs and just love how you photograph your style of decorating and those AMAZING tablescapes are swoon-worthy! Life can be hectic with work and raising 6 kids, I just didn’t have the ability to get into decorating. Now our family is up to 14 with grandbabies and son-in-laws and I try to fit in just anything! Listening to the DTT podcast has really helped figure out how to attempt to decorate. While I probably will never reach the level of decorator, it has been quite enjoyable adding even a little vignette of beauty in my chaotic world of kids & grandbabies. I thoroughly enjoy reading and listening to you, Kelly and Anita. I drive to and from work and always have either the new podcast playing or listening again to catch details and give your advice a try! I laugh when I now buy dishes, silver or a cake stand and hear you ladies saying how it is a sickness and I just love too much, ha! Thank you! Kind regards, Marsha C.

    1. Marsha! We are kindred spirits for sure! The DTT girls and I love riding along with you with you in the car. Thanks for taking us along!

  14. Marialaina Goeke says:

    Love the mixed white dishes. Tomorrow I am going out to cut pine branch’s for a centerpiece

  15. Hi Yvonne,
    I love your table scapes! In the fourth picture above, with the four plates and the little bowl on top, could you tell me what the name and pattern are of the little bowl on the top and the plate on the bottom. I want to get a set of white dishes and I love the pattern on both of these.
    Thank you so much,

    1. Hi Colleen, I found these pretty bowls at HomeGoods over a decade ago. Sorry I have no source. Happy spring decorating!

      1. Hi Yvonne,
        Thank you so much for responding. I’ll be on the lookout!
        Colleen 🙂