Plan a Perfect Holiday Party on a Budget

The holidays don't have to be a downer because you're pinching pennies.

Lifestyle expert and event planner David Monn shares last-minute, inexpensive decorating tips.

"It's not about how much money you have, it's about where you choose to spend it," Monn told "Good Morning America."

Here are his secrets to making a lavish-looking dinner and a delicious, festive dessert buffet for very little money.

Set the mood:

To set the stage you need to engage the senses. The most important is your sense of smell. Find one nice holiday fragrance or add mulling spices to your stove and let the smell entice the guests as they arrive.

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Play great music, dim the lights and let the party start.

Keep it simple. Choose one main color and one accent color and stick with them.

Monn decorated a buffet table in a winter-green color palate for about $144:

Cloth from JoAnn's Fabric Store for $4.99 a yard. He used about nine yards on a six-foot table. Your tablecloth should always touch the floor to cover the legs of table.

Added sparkle with glitter spray from Michael's Craft Store.

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Layer tablecloth with a burlap white lattice-work pattern that is about $3 a yard at most fabric stores.

To create the same lattice pattern on the napkins that are on the table, pull threads from all corners. Fringe the napkin about 1 3/4 inches from the edge. Using a ruler measure 1½ inches from the edge and pull one inch worth of threads.

Scale is really the secret to a great looking buffet table by creating balance. A table should have something on it that is at eye level and proportional to the size of the table.

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Create topiaries from Styrofoam or floral foam cones (ranging from $5 to $16) and boxwood shrubbery.

Creating food levels for a buffet creates interest. However, there should be no dish higher than your elbow when you are standing. To create these buffet stands use floral foam or oasis and boxwood shrubbery, which you can pull from the outdoors. Michael's Craft Store sells oasis blocks for a little less than $2 each.

Use baskets you have around your house for food displays. Give them new life with a little white semi-gloss spray paint.

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Use clear glass serving plates. Roll your flatware into your burlap napkins and serve in a basket.

Take wooden candlesticks you have around the house and spray-paint them white. Add taper candles to finish the look. Taper candles are $16 for a box of six from Creative Candle.

Décor for this table is about $144.

The all-white fantasy dessert table:

Use the power of one main color, for example white, and create a winter wonderland with all inexpensive assorted white desserts and coffee.

For a big bang use Christmas lights under a quilt batting tablecloth, which costs about $12. Add white Christmas lights ($3) with white cords. Use white felt ($3 a yard) to make snowflake napkins.

Cut an old log, such as birch, to create food levels. If you don't have a log then you can find birch pieces or cover cardboard boxes too. White boas from the dollar store and fake snow from K-Mart complete the look.

Dress up plain old angel food cake by slicing it into three layers, add a jam center and frost it with store-bought frosting. Then dust it with coconut.

Create marshmallow snowballs with a Styrofoam ball wrapped in Saran Wrap and covered with wooden toothpicks topped with marshmallows to dip in white chocolate fondue.

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