The idea is to pay attention to all the little things because when you do people will notice the difference. When you don't you can still create a perfectly lovely table but the lack of detail leaves the 'Wow' factor missing. Every little thing done means you went that extra mile to think of your guests.
When I create a table for this luncheon I work with a theme and just push and push creatively until I have the details that I think make the difference. I make a lot of my own items for a couple reasons, money, I can't find what I want and no one else has it if I make it.
I am not one for very fancy napkin folds but you might be. I prefer a simple fold or roll and more attention on the extras. For 'Igor's Table' one year I used inexpensive black fabric cut into squares and then cut up the edges because in Igor's lab things would be a bit shredded. For my 'Wall Street' table I bought the black bracelets that were so popular a few years ago in which you slid rhinestone letters and stars and such onto, but instead of adding the charms when I flipped them over for a napkin ring they resembled a black belt. For my East Indian table I used childs bracelets from an East Indian store, a whole box for about $10. For "Diner en Blanc', a totally white Parisienne table, I used oversized white cotton/linen napkins, rubber stamped the Eiffel Tower on them, pressed them very well and hung them on the back of the chair sort of like upon the arm of the waiter. I did the same idea for a school themed table but stamped numbers on them and folded them. The last two you can see here and here.
These are some of the ideas I liked this year....
My favorite table, my favorite centerpiece and my favorite napkin ring. Bling. These may have been bracelets although they were not large. Doesn't matter, I loved them. Like I said above, I have used bracelets before and they work wonderful. If you are really generous they could also be a favor. Invite me if you do okay.
Trim for curtain and pillows and furniture in the notions department are beautiful. This was either glued or sewn and was very elegant around the napkin. The table was a mix of Blue Willow and red and gold paisley, but the fabrics made all the difference.
Use the silk/fake flower department. Garlands give you a lot for your money. Glue or sew onto a ring or even ribbon and just tie to the back. Floral picks are a great source also because they come on a wire and you can just bend them to make a napkin ring. At craft stores floral picks have all sorts of things on them, not just flowers.
Elegant and classic! A clear napkin ring with a tiny vase. Simplicity at its best.
The plates were gorgeous but hard to see behind the favor bag. But the trim around the napkin is perfect for a bird theme. Leaf trim from the notions or ribbon department.
Nautical and oh so easy and cheap. This could be done for any pool, lake, beach or boat party. Perfect for a bon voyage party.
Tacky and fun. Use boas, garlands, trim, twine, ribbon, whatever.
If money or time is tight, go out to the yard, wash what you bring in, and leave the beauty of God's creations to shine. This could just as easily been fresh leaves, twigs, acorns, berries, fruit, herbs or flowers. A simple bit of nature.
This was so cute. Smokey's Fire Patrol badges. The table was simple and every detail was perfect.
These little glittered turkeys were about 2" tall and so cute. I think they were just set on top of the napkins but you could do a simple stitch and remove after or glue to a napkin ring. I believe they were purchased at Wal Mart (I will forgive you just this once), most likely in the crafts or card section.
Another idea would be a vintage brooch, election buttons/pins, small toy, the list is endless.
While the bear theme of this table was not my preference, the plaid napkins were a great choice. If your plates are simple then a bold napkin is perfect. You do not have to use what is offered to you in the stores. Look around at runway fashion for ideas, Picasso or Monet, interiors, nature. Make your own, or buy off the shelf and add trim, etc..