Beautifully set table with flowers and runners for placemats.

How to Set A Beautiful Table With Thrifted Items

August 16, 2022
long rectangular beautifully set table
From tableware to centerpieces, how to find great table settings second-hand or thrift.
Photo by Mike Little on Pexels

A beautifully set table is a gift to the eyes. Hopefully, if the cook is skilled, it ends up being a gift to the palate, as well. An attractive and properly set table is fairly easy to achieve (see my blog: Proper Table Setting 101 ), but many times it does not come cheaply, UNLESS you consider shopping thrift and consignment to create your table-scape. Second-hand stores from coast-to-coast are an excellent source for china and everyday dinnerware, table linens, candles, flower vases and cache pots and, if your a tiny bit creative, so much more. You can set a beautiful table with thrifted items in a snap. For example, I put all of the table settings below together, in a matter of minutes, with just items I found in my store, Consignments Ltd. The cost for these table-scapes, you may ask? It’s about 1/3 – 1/2 the price it would be if you purchased everything retail.

Consider These Second-Hand Values And Set A Beautiful Table With These Thrifted Items:

Bamboo Placemat, White Plate, Gold Flatware
Use placemats to center the dishes and the eye of your guests.
Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash


I’m a big lover of placemats and they can be expensive, especially when you pay per piece at most home goods and gift stores. So I always look for placemats second-hand to set a beautiful table. Oft times you will see some cool vintage ones or mats with hand needlework. Most shops sell that sell thrifted items sell them in sets, rather than each, so they are a bargain. If the shop is a good one, you shouldn’t have to worry about stains, but more thrift-oriented shops might mean you’ll get two good ones from a set of four, or four from six, but the cost-savings is definitely worth the hunt. Also, consider buying “Non-placemat-placemats” like runners, chalkboards, mirrors, pashminas; these items aren’t technically placemats, but can be used as such. Let your creativity abound. It’ s fun and your family and/or guests will love your whimsy!

othe napkin in braided ring.
Cloth napkins are a great buy second-hand.
Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

Cloth Napkins and Tablecloths:

The same can be said for cloth napkins and tablecloths that can be said for placemats: they are a deal second-hand and they are different looking, oft-times then a lot of regular retail ones. Cloth napkins are also environmentally-friendly, so they are a real boon when bought second-hand. You can find tablecloths, especially vintage ones, with unique and kitschy patterns or beautiful hand-work that you just don’t see that often anymore. An added bonus: with the price of these items second-hand, you won’t have to go into full-blown grief if someone makes a stain. You will have a beautiful table with thrifted items and your table will be ever-so-different from all your friends.

Stacks of china plates
Plates in all different patterns can be found on consignment.
Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash

Sets of Dishes:

I’ve covered this one a multitude of times. China is such a good value second-hand and you can set a beautiful table with these thrifted items. You can check my other blog: Consignment Shop Best Buys, Part 1 for more information on this. Suffice it to say, china and dish sets are soooo much less costly second-hand and the price differential allows you to have different sets for different occasions and seasons at a much smaller cost.

Wine glasses on a set table.
Wine, cocktail, juice glasses – they are all great buys second-hand.
Photo by Freddy G on Unsplash


Who doesn’t break a wine glass now and then? Some say that it’s actually good luck, so I must be incredibly fortunate. Thrift and consignment is an excellent place for wine, water, cocktail and juice glasses. It’s also your best bet for water pitchers, decanters and unique water bottles to serve your guests extra water in. (See my blog: Underrated Unsung Heroes of The Kitchen).

Table set with vase of flowers and candles.
Setting a pretty table is easy second-hand.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

And All The Rest…

Second-hand is also a great place to shop for the vases, candlesticks, candles and centerpieces that make your place settings shine. And all these items are easily 50-65%off regular retail, so you can get super creative for a lot less. Your table will thank you for it!

And Now For A Little Music Before We Go…

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