How to Incorporate Buffalo Check in a Dining Tablescape

This week I discovered just how (embarrassingly) much buffalo check I have accumulated in the way of table decor so I started playing with different, fairly inexpensive, ways to incorporate it into a dining tablescape. We often host Thanksgiving so I’m usually pulling everything out and starting to play anyway, so why not give you some ideas as well, right? I do not get paid by these companies (other than by the one link to Amazon mentioned later in this post) for mentioning them, but I will tell you now that this post is loaded with items from TJMaxx, Target, and Hobby Lobby (and Kirkland’s comes in for the centerpiece win). They are my GO TO STORES. They are my decorating soul mates. Some days they are my budget’s best friend and others, they are it’s arch nemesis! PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT I HAVE ACCUMULATED THESE ITEMS OVER THE PAST 11 YEARS since renovating and adding on to our home. Included in this so-called “hoard” are the following  buffalo check items that could be used for a tablescape for pretty much any season, but I’ll focus this post on the upcoming holiday season:

  • tablecloth
  • napkins
  • chargers
  • table runner
  • place mats

People the options are endless! But let me back this buffalo check train up just a bit and give you some background on why it’s so special to me to decorate our dining table for holidays and special occasions….

Back in 2008, we started an addition on our small ranch home. Oh if I knew then that some day I would be writing blog posts about “my home matters,” I might be a full time blogger right now! Anyway, my dad was a carpenter on-the-side and when he retired. He built grandfather clocks and pie tables and tilt top tables that had hand-carved details. He built both houses we grew up in. He refaced our fireplace with stacked stone, built the cubbies we now use for the kids’ coats and shoes and backpacks, and he built much much more. But, the most special thing he built for us was our dining room table. It has two 18-inch extensions that make it almost 11 feet long when open, and it has two lovely pedestal bases. My dad passed away last year, in May of 2018, at the age of 91. I’m blessed to have this table around which to sit with my family…to play games, talk about our day, blow out birthday candles and, of course, enjoy meals!

Now, truth be told, I admit I have become a bit of a table decor HOARDER. I actually purchased a piece of furniture that houses all of the items that no longer fit in our built in cabinet area of the dining room (by the way, we really don’t have a dining room per say, but when we added on, we wanted a large kitchen with large island and room for a large table so that is exactly what we did)! So let’s start with some ideas using a mix-and-match approach of the items above and some things I pulled out of my hoard. I started with a long tray-type piece from Kirkland’s – I love it because it is so versatile and it is low enough that when you fill it, your view of the person across the table is not blocked and you aren’t doing the old lean-around-shuffle to see him or her. Next, I had these magnolia leaf stems that I had purchased last year or the year before at TJMaxx (I’m kind of a weirdo because I leave the tags on as long as I possibly can stand it – you never know when you may need to refer back to that price… see?). These have fairly big leaves so I was able to lay one facing each direction so that the stems face towards the center of the tray. That left open space in the middle and I needed to cover up those stems. I have a ton of  black and white pumpkins from the Target Dollar Bins (I’m telling you, those bins are packed full of decorating goodness every season!) I even had one single pumpkin in buffalo check so, voila…in they went. Then, the last step was to add some cotton stems – I had stems and bags of just the cotton pieces themselves, both of which came from Hobby Lobby. Just a note about the prices of the Hobby Lobby items – if you go at the right time, you can always get these things on sale. They rotate sales on their items each week… so you can always get these items at 30-50% off. 

to show the price tag of the magnolia leaves purchased at TJMaxx

I tucked in the cotton stems and then sprinkled in the filler thingies until the centerpiece felt full and you couldn’t see the bottom of the tray.

Before I show my first set up, I need to clarify that when I purchase items for my table, I don’t necessarily buy enough for a full table (which would be 12 people). I sometimes do, depending on the price, but mostly I go with enough to do half or one third of the table so that I can mix and match AND keep the cost down. Mixing and matching can be one of the best looks! I have my staple items such as a full set of off-white dishes, our wedding stemware and silverware. But everything else is fair game for musical place settings.

For my first buffalo check tablescape, I pulled out the buffalo plaid table runner and paired it with some matching chargers. I have a set of dark lacy round place mats as well as a light set – but, again, six of each. I love the look of the natural colors mixed with the black and white and greenery. I also love layers. I wanted to start with one layer of natural with the place mat, followed by a charger and then I sometimes place the napkin in between the charger and plate, like in this case. But to bring out more of the natural, I used little burlap sacks that came from the “dollar bins” at Michael’s. I love those little sacks for holding silverware! Since I got those a while ago and am not sure you’d still be able to find them there, I found these similar burlap sacks at Amazon. 

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Adding a small sprig of greenery into the little sack brings out just one more pop of earthy color. You can get one long strand of boxwood greens, for example, and pull off individual stems. I got mine at Ikea!

For the next buffalo plaid tablescape, I tried incorporating orange. Since I had the orange buffalo plaid pumpkins (from Kirkland’s) on my table prior to clearing it off for this episode of musical place settings (and now they were on the floor staring at me), I knew I also had some orange napkins so I swapped out the black and white pumpkins for those and did the same with the napkins. But because you can have too much of a good thing (I was even pushing it with the orange check on top of the black checked table runner), I also had to take out the checked chargers and went with a dark set on top of the lighter set of lacy place mats.

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I wasn’t kidding when I admitted to being a hoarder of all things tablescape. And I wasn’t kidding that this really does mean a lot to me. So, onward I went with the buffalo checked tablescape theme…

The next set-up had me reaching for the full set of wood chargers I also found three years ago in the Target Dollar Spot! (They have little Christmas trees at the top but meh… I didn’t care!) How about some buffalo plaid place mats this time? Those were another TJMaxx find. As I said above, I really do love layering the natural elements with the black and white. I swapped out the plaid table runner for a burlap one and, once again, I alternated that within the layers on each place setting. I do not have enough of those place mats, so I also alternated each setting where one had a place mat and the next did not. And guess what? Those place mats are reversible where the other side just has a border of buffalo check rather than the full mat like the side you see does. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE creating reversible projects like these reversible blocks or this reversible round sign from our BOXED UP subscription membership!

to show how to use buffalo check when decorating a dining table

This also allowed me to use a four-pack of buffalo napkins… are you getting the idea of how you do not need enough of any one thing for an entire table? Coordinating colors can go a long way! I added the napkins on the settings that did not have a place mat. The cool thing is that I did not purchase the napkins and the place mats at the same time so the fact that I’ve been able to figure out ways to mix and match as I slowly accumulate these things is what makes it fun for me and also keeps the options going and going and going…

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Finally, a tablecloth will finish out my morning of buffalo check switch-a-roos. The tablecloth is a powerful statement on the table so I went with mostly natural elements from there. I kept the burlap sacks for the silverware at first and added yet another napkin I had found in the Target Dollar Spot last year – they say Thankful. I thought they were perfect for hosting thanksgiving.

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Before I was ready to pack it all back up and put it away, I remembered that late this past summer, the last time I was at Hobby Lobby, they had all of their Fall table decor on sale and I thought these sunflower napkin rings were perfect! They were 50% off.

to show burlap sunflower napkin rings purchased at Hobby Lobby and to show the price

I loved that they were burlap and had a natural feel so for one final layout I did plain black napkins (from World Market) and inserted them into the sunflower napkin rings. I kept the wooden charges and decided to lay the silverware out in the traditional fork-on-the-left-spoon-and-knife-on-the-right kind of way.

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Since I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year (we have fun plans though!), here’s a look at last year’s table. Yep… and it was all decorated for Christmas. I’m finding that I roll better into the holiday if the decorating gets done EARLY.

to show how to use buffalo check when decorating a dining table

Once the buffalo plaid party was all said and done, I couldn’t bear the thoughts that I had done all of this work just to pack it all away until who knows when. So, I left the last setting just as it was and decided we would use it to celebrate dinner and cake and ice cream for my youngest’s 10th birthday which happens to be today! In fact, we may be celebrating as you are reading this.

to show how to use buffalo check when decorating a dining table

As I said at the beginning, this table has seen a lot. This table is special. The decor is a rolling combination of items I have gathered over many years. You may think I’m crazy. You may think I’m obsessed. You may think I spend too much. You may think a lot of things. It’s my table and I’ll decorate it if I want to… and, to quote one of my Instagram posts from earlier this year, “If decorating this table is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.”

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