With Easter upon us, having family and friends over for a nice luncheon or dinner is a great way to kick-off the warm weather season.  Entertaining can become so much more personalized with just a fraction more effort. As always, planning is the key; that’s a common thread around here.

1. Take an inventory of your existing supplies and determine what purchases must be made based on your guest list. Consider fresh flowers, unique serving dishes and linens.

2. Do a little research on the web for ideas! Pinterest is a great source for tablescape and centerpiece inspiration.

3. In true The Broke Socialite fashion, do set a budget. If you’re like me, you can get lost in stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s and Big Lots for hours on end and land me on the red side of the equation.

4. Keep a variety of vessels on hand. And be creative! Mason jars, empty wine bottles and fish bowls make adorable flower vases.  Pick them up from flea markets, yard sales and discount stores.  You’d also be surprised at what you can find at dollar stores.

5. Invest in white dinnerware. IKEA has great options. White is timeless, classic and a great neutral. From Easter to Christmas, you can build great textures around it, including linens, candles, flatware and centerpieces.

6. Consider one statement piece for your table or buffet.

7. Buy accouterments whilst they are off-season. Stock up for next year at the end of each season, purchase a few plastic, dry storage bins and label them for easy storage and access when you are ready to decorate.

8. Stage your tablescape and centerpiece before your guests arrive. Practice makes perfect and the visual will allow you to determine if you are missing any elements of the production.

9. Strive to tell stories and personalize with your tablescapes.  Guests LOVE seeing their names when they are being seated, so pick up interesting brooches that can be used as napkin rings and make for wonderful ice breakers.  Use nature to texturize: driftwood makes a great centerpiece as does coral and seashells for beach-themed tablescapes.  Infuse family china (I LOVE this one) and share its history with your guests.

10. Simplicity is sometimes best. A row of single, potted orchids or a vase filled with tulips surrounded by fine linens screams “less is more.”

Do you enjoy tablescaping? What are some of your favorite themes? Tweet me @BrokeSocialite

Shameeka Ayers is an Atlanta-based lifestyle blogger and author who dispenses entertaining, shelter and food & wine anecdotes and advice via her alter ego, The Broke Socialite. She also produces a national tour of curated dessert-tasting experiences, Sugar Coma Events™.  Her first novella, Instantly: How Quickly I Realized I Hate My Job will be released in Summer 2012.