I'm no expert at this for sure, and the things I'm currently selling don't take up a lot of space, but over the handful of times I've sold at events I've wanted to improve my displays without spending a lot of $$$. Here are some of the strategies I employ (or have employed) to create an attractive and functional table.
1) Good 'ole paper
Back on Maui I made a sign out of the same cardstock I use to print my cards. After plastering them with mod podge I had a pretty sturdy, water-proof sign. Unfortunately I didn't hold onto it for some reason when I came over to Hilo, so I ended up making a simple sign out of paper again what was bold and eye-catching.
Before my Farmer's Market experiment, I wanted to find a way to create an upright display. I couldn't figure out what to do, and for days I sat around...stumped. Then the toner cartridges I ordered came in and they ended up being the perfect size to display my cards! A little snip snip and I had sturdy card displays. They even came with packaging foam that I used as stands to create a "stadium" effect.
Here's what they looked like after I cut off the flaps and about 2/3 of the front:
3) Now that I had my boxes, I needed to make them pretty, which leads me to my next tip: FABRIC.
I went to the fabric store (the only one in Hilo really...) and picked up a yard of burlap for $7 (a little pricey I know, but it's Hawaii, and it's just a yard.) I just LOVED the texture and color and though it would go well. Wrapping my boxes in burlap was tricky, but each box got a little easier as I figured out the best technique. I also wrapped my little foam blocks. I love fabric because it can turn ugly things pretty and attach to ANYTHING. Because I was going for a natural look, the imperfections in the way I applied my fabric just gave it more character.
4) Borrow stuff
I borrowed a table from my parents for my Farmer's Market booth. Eventually I'm gonna get one, but at the last minute, borrowing was a big help. See what you can borrow from family members, friends and neighbors if you're on a tight budget.
5) Look around and work with what you've got.
For me that's included a wooden drawer, a couple of wooden boxes Keola's Grandma let me have, thread, clothes pins, bobbi pins, glass jars, sand from the back yard, baskets, rocks (to weigh stuff down)...you name it. The day before an event you can often find me wandering around the yard or the house, picking things up, turning them over, envisioning how it can be used or transformed into something useful. That's just how I work.
The display for my last event came together on the morning of. At 6am I stood up a wooden drawer face down (it had no handles) taped my sign to the top, taped up a couple pieces of thread across the drawer opening and hung cards with bobbi pins (genius by the way, since bobbi pins don't indent the paper like clothes pins do). From a distance the thin thread made the cards look like they were floating. I just LOVE this drawer because it's so sturdy and stable and really became the centerpiece to the whole display.
Here's a shot of the ugly back side where I kept all my cards ready to package up for people:
So there you have it! Craft booths are fun because each one presents new opportunities to be creative and resourceful. Doing booth events can be a little costly upfront depending on the venue. Some venues will provide more (like tables and chairs), others want you to bring a tent, tables, chairs, etc. Each one is different and presents its' own set of challenges, but by getting creative and using inexpensive materials, you can make your display look like a million bucks.