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The ho-ho-holidays can be a lot of work. Too much work, in fact. At a moment’s notice, you can be saddled with guests you weren’t planning on, which means extra place settings and extra mouths to feed at the dinner table. It all adds up quick. So, this year, we gave ourselves a challenge: What kind of festive spread could one make using only materials bought at the dollar store? The answer, as it turns out, is a pretty darn great one.

Part 1: the place settings

To make the winter-white plates ($2.50 ea.) pop, we used red lace doilies as chargers ($1.50/four). Instead of stand-alone placeholders, chalkboard labels acted as name cards ($1/six), which were tethered with raffia ribbon ($1/roll). To top it all off? A Christmas cracker ($2/eight) and a personalized ornament for guests to take home ($1.25/package of three).

Eating and drinking are kind of an essential part of a good dinner party, which is why we didn’t forget about wine glasses ($2 ea.) and silverware (less than $1 per person). And because the holidays are bound to get messy, we made our own cloth napkins out of dish towels ($2 ea.). Here’s how:

SRW

We’ll spare you the math: The whole set-up will run you less than $8 per person, which is good news if you have (surprise!) a lot of guests coming over and not enough plates, cutlery and napkins to go around.

Part 2: the table runner

Our first step was to roll out a sheet of flashy gold wrapping paper ($2/roll) down the centre of the table to set the stage. Couldn’t be easier, right? Then, it was time to get our DIY on. Practical and pretty, these foolproof holly-shaped trivets are made out of cork ($3/roll). Here’s how to do it yourself:

CORK

Super-simple, right? And you could totally reuse ’em if you wanted to. But, let’s face it: On their own, the neutral trivets aren’t really going to stand out (plus, they’re eventually going to be covered by dinner), so we needed some pops of colour. A few bright-red lanterns offered a welcome festive punch and a bit of ambiance to our table.

Part 3: the centrepiece

But we weren’t done yet. We needed a touch of warmth from the great outdoors to complete our holiday spread. A faux floral arrangement (flowers, $4/bunch; berries, $2.50/bunch)—complete with glittering berries ($1.25/pack) and metallic birds ($1.25/two) nestled in a painted nest ($1.25/canister; $2/nest)—is easy enough to pull together that even the kids could get in on it. (You might want to save the scissor work for yourself, though.)

Dollar-Store

We set our table for six, but you can scale it up or down, depending on your guest list. In total, for six place settings and two centerpieces, you’ll spend as little as $76, all in. And it could be a lot less, actually, if you already have enough white plates and cutlery to go around, as those were the most expensive purchases.

So, now you know: It is absolutely possible to set an entire holiday table using nothing but stuff from the dollar store, and while you don’t have to tell anyone, you probably should. Because it is quite the accomplishment.

dinner-setting

Styling by Amrita Singh (Pretty Frugal Living) and Lindsay Agnew.