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How to create a Hollywood-style Thanksgiving table on a budget

HOUSTON – If you're hosting the big get together this Thanksgiving, there is a lot of planning ahead to get your menu and your home ready for guests. Consumer expert Amy Davis is helping you set your table on a budget. 

Most families expecting extra guests for dinner pull out a six-foot folding table, so Davis set one up in the lobby of KPRC Channel 2 and asked three volunteers to set it for a Thanksgiving dinner for six. 

The results varied from fun to formal to natural, and you can achieve any of the looks in your home for next to nothing. 

Desiree Anderson with the 99 Cents Only Store decorated the first table with only items found in the discount store. 

"I actually went all out on this table," Anderson told Davis. "That's literally everything we have on the table here from the tablecloth to the forks and spoons." 

Most pieces are only 99 cents, but there are some exceptions. Anderson flanked the table with two trendy battery-operated LED lanterns that cost just $4.99. Those pieces and others can easily be re-purposed for Christmas.

"We did the math and it ended up being $78," Anderson said. "It just goes to show, you don't need a lot of money to have that expensive look."

At The Guild Shop, a high-end thrift store in Montrose, you can find fine china for a fraction of what you'd pay retail. 

"We're pretty picky about what we take," Debbie Willingham said. "We just never know what's coming in." 

The treasures they found decked out table No. 2. A pair of gold candlesticks for $48, six wine goblets for $27, water glasses for $11.25, cordial glasses for $24 and a full 83-piece set of Lenox china for $256 gave the tablescape a more formal feel. 

"And right now, because of Harvey and the flooding, a lot of people have lost those things," said Mary Lou Fehr, a Guild Shop volunteer.  

The entire table, including much of the china that wouldn't fit, would set you back $590. 
All proceeds from The Guild Shop are given to organizations in the Houston community that support the elderly.

Our third guest didn't buy a thing for this challenge. 

"Shop your house. That's what I always tell people. Shop your house," said Jacey Storm, interior decorator and owner of Stormfront Design

Storm went outside for inspiration. 

"I went to my backyard and gathered pine cones, magnolia leaves, trimmed some shrubs and... Thanksgiving table," she said.

She used magnolia leaves as place cards for guests and the covering over the table isn't actually a tablecloth. 

"It's actually like a really large rug pad or rug mat," Storm said. 

To get the look, Storm collects white dishes from thrift stores and wooden cutting boards and bowls.

"If you start with a very neutral base, you can add greenery, anything from nature, you really can't go wrong," Storm said.