How to create a budget dessert table for less than $100!

EDIT: Please note that the downloadables and printables mentioned in this blog post are no longer available.  Something Wonderful Happened is no longer providing event styling services to allow us to concentrate on an exciting new project:

Rest assured that the tips and ideas featured in this budget friendly dessert table will never expire and are yours for the taking!


Create this beautiful dessert table for under $100 with Something Wonderful Happened

As a party planner, I spend my days looking at beautiful pictures of dessert tables.  Some of them are so beautiful they make me weak at the knees.  But many times when I estimate the cost it makes my eyes water! 

I honestly believe that with enough creativity every mother can create a gorgeous party for her kids.  So I set out to prove that with some great ideas and ingenuity, a gorgeous dessert table is within the reach of everyone!

Here’s how I did it

Below is an overview of the process I used to create this stunning yet cheap dessert table.  If you want the step by step guide, you can grab it for free here.

Vintage aeroplane party by Something Wonderful Happened

Firstly, I create some rules:

I set myself a budget of $100 and decided that everything I use on the dessert table must either be found around my home or bought from the budget.

Given that our home is bursting at the seams with trestle tables, cake stands and candy jars, I decide to use my sister’s home as the search ground.  She’s a mother of one and has thrown parties for her daughter without having epic amounts of partyware like I do.  I decide if I can’t find it there, I’ll have to buy it.

Then I decide on a theme and colour palette:

Usually my children or clients decide on a theme and I then go and get party printables made.  But that isn’t going to work here.  I need lovely printables and I need them for free.  I eventually decide on this vintage aeroplane theme.

Vintage aeroplane party by Something Wonderful Happened

The only drawback is that I know navy and grey aren’t the easiest colours in which to find party supplies or food.  So I decide to add in some yellow to make finding appropriate items easier- and cheaper.  I also decide to add in some twine to give the party a slightly more industrial/rustic look.

With a finalised colour and texture palette, I ring up my sister and tell her I am coming over to raid her cupboards.  Luckily my family is used to my crazy projects and she doesn’t bat an eyelid.

Now I can source items:

I get lucky almost as soon as I arrive.  Sitting on the bench are 12 glass jars that she’s planning to use for storing her daughters craft supplies.  I convince her to remain disorganised until after I’ve created my dessert table.  These jars are so similar to trendy mason jars, I am determined to work them in.  Next I locate her cake stand and two white platters. 

How to create a dessert table for under $100

And then right at the back of a cupboard holding plastic containers, I find this mini cupcake stand.  Jackpot!

How to create a dessert table for under 100

That’s about where my luck runs out.  I grill my sister, and my niece, but they own no lolly jars and also nothing I can use as a riser.  Their cake stand is lovely, but at this stage everything I have found is flat or short.  And trust me, nothing kills a gorgeous dessert table  quicker than having everything on the same  level.

I unsuccessfully look through my nieces toys in the hopes of finding something.  Then I expand my search to the laundry and other unlikely places.  Finally in desperation, I open their linen cupboard and find identical vases.  And a drink dispenser.  Things are looking up.  After giving them a good wash, I can put some lollies or food in the vases but I am still going to need some vertical height.

How to create a dessert table for less than $100

I hit the shops:

Now that I know what I need, I can hit the shops.  I buy two crates from Ikea and find two apothecary jars at a discount store.  That is half of my budget gone just on these four items but did I mention the bit about killing a dessert table with lack of height? I also buy lollies and other party food and get a great bargain on some navy paper cups.  I have included a breakdown of my budget at the end of this post if you want to see exactly what I bought.

Finally,I put it all together:

Now I download the printables, cut and craft.  You can see some of my ideas for decorating and getting creative with the free printables in an upcoming blog post.

My sister very kindly makes the cake, as my skills in entertaining unfortunately don’t extend to feeding my guests food that anyone would visit a second time to eat.  She makes 1.5 times the recipe and we have enough left over from the cake to make some cupcakes.

So here it is.

Vintage aeroplane party by Something Wonderful Happened

I failed in my aim to do a dessert table for under $100.  But at $101, I am feeling pretty pleased with myself.

If you’d like the step by step guide to creating this table including links to online sources and all printables plus great tips for where to source these items or similar, get the free PDF guide.

Vintage airplane party by Something Wonderful Happened
Airplane party snacks by Something Wonderful Happened
Vintage aeroplane cloud cupcakes by Something Wonderful Happened
Lolly jars for aeroplane party styled by Something Wonderful Happened