I love to set a memorable table even when we're at the lake. All of our colors there are bright so I like to keep the place settings fun. I'm a huge fan of bandanas. There are just so many uses for them...for example, dinner napkins. They are much prettier than paper napkins. I know, some of you will say, "but I have to wash them!" Bandanas are easy to wash, they don't need to be ironed and the colors don't bleed. Plus, after washing they are super-soft. On a practical note they actually work better than paper napkins. Your table will look much more stylish AND you will be doing the environment a favor while saving money too! For the same reason, I'm not a big user of paper plates (don't get me wrong, I love all of the cute patterns of paper plates and napkins...but that is a story for another posting).
For the lake I bought yellow, lime green, turquoise, pink and hot pink bandanas (at home I have red, black and navy). Wal-Mart usually has a good selection for less than $2 each. If you don't see the colors you like there, try a craft store like Michael's or search online.
The napkin rings have different colors of silk flowers (I picked these up at Pier One a few years back). Each place setting has a different color plate in vintage Fiesta Ware, which I have collected from various antique stores. If you purchase plates like these at an antique store or flea market, be sure not to buy any with chips or cracks, especially if you plan to serve food on them.
For drinks I used handpainted wine glasses (no two are alike) that I either painted myself or purchased for my collection (more on that later). I think it's fun to use these even if you are just serving water in them, and a great alternative to the wine glass tags that are so popular these days. Of course some merlot can be poured as well!