Once I had settled on the Art Deco theme for the MVMT dinner, I set to work pulling everything together. As with any event, there were many things to consider and details to organize. I started searching the internet and creating an event binder which organized my inspiration pictures, color and fabric swatches and vendor contacts, pricing, scheduling, etc.
All the details. All together.
The first item of business was to find a good caterer. No, I did not cook dinner for 175 people, I do know my limits and sometimes I even pay attention to them. I thought about it though. But not this time. For this big of a crowd, I needed professionals and I needed them fast as I had only about three weeks to put the dinner together. I promise to tell you more about the food and the caterer in a later post but for now, we’re talking tablescapes and décor.
As far as creating the look, feeling and ambiance of the evening, I knew what I wanted and I knew the individual tablescapes would be key. I wanted bold rich color and for the room to glow with soft amber light. When the dinner guests arrived, I wanted them to walk into a setting they didn’t expect and to find an elegant atmosphere that was still very relaxed and welcoming. After all, this dinner was all about making them feel special and appreciated and setting the mood for celebrating the incredible things God has in store for our church.
So I had my plan and knew what I wanted to achieve. Now, the biggest challenge. Budget. If you know anything about a caterer, you know they had just gotten most of it. Which stands to reason as the food really is of primary importance at a dinner party. So, it was time to get creative with the remaining plans for the event.
Thankfully, I am not easily intimidated by budget. In fact, quite the opposite. Working on a tight budget is half the fun. Finding creative ways to stretch every dollar is a great challenge. And knowing that you are being a good steward of the money entrusted to you is very rewarding.
You can, without doubt, pull together an incredible event on a very small budget. It just takes a little planning and ingenuity and a complete and absolute unwillingness to pay anyone to do anything you can do yourself. Know your limits (and pay attention to them) but believe in yourself a little and roll up your sleeves and do it yourself!
If you’ll indulge me a bit, I’d love to show you what I did …
Tablescapes and Décor on a budget.
There were really only three major elements to the tablescapes, but each was very important to the overall style and mood of the event; table runners, floral arrangements and lighting.
The table runners were my biggest opportunity to pull in a gorgeous Art Deco pattern. Fabric is so often “the answer” to the question “how do I make a statement?” My color palette of tomato red, tan/gold, black and lush green was determined in part by the room the dinner would be served in but also by the atmosphere/vibe I imagined and was looking to create.
The church already had black table cloths and using what you already have is rule number one in maximizing a budget. The reds and golds would come into play in the fabric for the runners and the flowers and the green element would be from the palms that I would use in both the centerpiece arrangements as well as in pots around the room.
I looked at a lot of table runners on line and this was one of my absolute favorites. The color is perfect and I love the pattern but at $33 each, the price is fair but just didn’t fit into my budget. After all, I needed 24. This gorgeous runner is from Eva Babika’s Bedazzle Design Esty shop.
After a whole lot of looking, I started thinking I really should just dust off my sewing machine and make my own. Did I have time? Did I really have a choice? I began looking for fabric first at Hobby Lobby and then online.
I found what I was looking for at FabricGuru for only $8.95/yard. The perfect colors and pattern. Yes, I would indeed be dusting off the sewing machine and turning my dining room table into a textile factory.
Thankfully, my mom was in town and able to lend a hand. I really don’t know what I would do without her. She has a knack for being in the right place at the right time! She might consider that a curse but in my case, I see it as quite the blessing.
In stead of paying $33 for each runner or settling on much lower quality runners that might squeeeeeeze into my budget, I ended up with exactly what I wanted, customized to the exact size I needed. If you are thinking, “great but I can’t sew”. I promise you, you can sew a straight line. Watch a tutorial on line or have a friend or family member give you a quick lesson and borrow a machine if you have to. You can do it!
Or you can just call your mom. That always works for me.
The perfect Art Deco period flowers – Lilies and Palms
The floral centerpieces were another important part of the table and had to be both beautiful and budget friendly.
This was my original inspiration photo. I found it online while searching “red carnation arrangements” and unfortunately cannot now find a proper source to credit. Whoever they are, they are very talented and I thank them for the inspiration!
Working with a tight budget, I thought carnations might be the way to go. I know they have an “inexpensive” and therefore somewhat undesirable reputation but I think they get a bad wrap. They are beautiful and when done in a tight full arrangement like this with the two tones of red, they are stunning. And yes, cost effective.
I put my theory to the test when I posted the above photo on Facebook and posed the simple question tacky or gorgeous? The overwhelming response was gorgeous and tacky only when dipped in neon colors not found in nature. I would have to agree.
Unfortunately, my actual “test run” didn’t give me the results I was looking for and while beautiful, the carnation arrangement just didn’t say “Art Deco” to me. My instinct and my heart were with Asiatic Lilies so I hit the internet looking for the best deal I could find.
That deal came from fiftyflowers.com – 50 stems for about $130.00. Each stem has 3 to five flowers on it so I crossed my fingers and whispered a little prayer that 50 would be enough. The really great part about fiftyflowers.com is not just the bargain but their customer service is fantastic! Shortly after I placed my order (as in within 15 minutes), a representative called to confirm it and give me helpful tips on unpacking the lilies and keeping them fresh. I truly appreciate good customer service and that was a nice touch.
One thing to keep in mind about Asiatic lilies is that you need to have them delivered about four days prior to your event so they have time to open. I really enjoyed the big pot of lilies on my kitchen table. Waiting for them to open was almost like Christmas.
One more thing about fiftyflowers.com, my first order of lilies had some shipping issues and fifty flowers called to let me know they would be arriving a day late. I expressed my concern as to whether or not they would be fresh with an extra day in transit and they assured me the lilies should be fine. Within a half an hour someone called back and said they had gone ahead and sent a second shipment of lilies just to ensure the quality and freshness and that if the first order should show up, to consider them a gift.
Consider them a gift.
Seriously, who does things like that anymore? Fiftyflowers.com does and now has my business for life. The first order did show up the day before the event and incredibly enough were still in pretty good shape. They were also just a bit darker than the second order and the variation in the two colors turned out beautifully. Fiftyflowers.com, I am impressed and very thankful to you.
So I had my lilies, now what to put them in? The arrangement needed to be low in order for dinner guests to see over them and converse easily but full and lush to give the dramatic effect I was looking for. I also really had it stuck in my head that they should be in some sort of bowl or urn like the inspiration picture above. Here’s what I ended up going with …
While there is nothing I love more than a silver bowl, in this case with the red, black and tan color scheme, I really needed gold. But just the right gold, subtle and not garish. I found what I wanted online at Wholesale Flowers and Supplies. I loved the decorative points in the design which look somewhat Egyptian inspired to me and ancient Egyptian design was very influential in the Art Deco movement. Perfect.
When the urns arrived, I excitedly tore into the box, eager to see what they looked like; somewhat reminiscent of the dad in A Christmas Story when his “major award” arrived. With great anticipation, I pulled one out and it looked … well, garish. Yes, just like A Christmas Story. Very, very garish. But the size shape and design were perfect, and they weren’t actually tiny fishnet leg lamps (if you have never seen A Christmas Story, you REALLY must), so all was not lost.
And my love affair with spray paint continues. The bright gold, slightly tacky plastic urns were quickly transformed into the subtle elegant vessels I was envisioning with just a few sprays of “Champagne Mist”.
From now on when someone asks me what my favorite color is, the answer will always be and emphatic “Champagne Mist”.
Okay, so it was more than just a few sprays. Twenty four urns = A LOT of sprays.
So the urns were beautiful and ready to go. I had the lilies but what about the palm fronds? I could have ordered them with the lilies but as it turns out, I didn’t need to. Thankfully, a refreshing swim a few days earlier led to a big money saving epiphany. You see, in Arizona, pools are pretty much always surrounded by palms.
My pool is surrounded by palms.
One afternoon, while floating peacefully surrounded by palms, the thought came to me … I don’t have to order palms, I have all the fronds I want right here, I can trim until my hearts content and save a ton of money. Oh, how I love a good budget stretching epiphany.
Pygmy Date Palms have the perfect fronds for flower arrangements. Rule #1, use what you have! So, the morning of the event I went out with my hand pruners and cut about 60 fronds. And then I sat on the back patio in the morning breeze and trimmed and shaped each of them, all the while basking in my own genius.
On the day of the event, my friend and right hand woman Linda and I stood in the church kitchen with a big pot of lilies and a big pot of palm fronds and made a whole bunch of flower arrangements and a big mess. I put a small plastic solo cup inside each urn so the flowers were kept tighter in a smaller container. It worked great and I was absolutely thrilled with the end result. And yes, I did clean up my mess.
While I would have like to have a peacock feather or two in the arrangements, that was just not in the budget. And, unfortunately I don’t have any peacocks roaming around the hacienda supplying me with free feathers. Okay, that really isn’t so unfortunate. Actually, I’m pretty ok with it.
My bonus lily score meant that I was able to make a few larger arrangements for the gelato bar and the literature table and happily I was able to incorporate a few feathers into those.
I found these tan peacock feathers at Hobby Lobby, along with the gorgeous black vase.
The only thing left in the “foliage/floral” category were the potted palms. Potted palms are found everywhere in Art Deco design and were an absolute must for this event. Besides, I LOVE palms! The church already had the iron candle holders and lots of LED candles and they were perfect arranged with the potted palms.
I found these gorgeous Cats Paw Palms (indoor palms) at Home Depot for only about $13.00 each which was a lot less than we could have even rented them for. After the event was over we gave them out to any staff member that wanted one and I have a few strays at home now too. The plastic pots also came from Home Depot and had the perfect geometric circle pattern in a gold washed bronze finish. They were also a huge bargain and looked fantastic.
The only down side? I had to visit four different Home Depots to find enough and turn my van into a jungle which my boys thought was awesome! So really, it wasn’t actually even a down side.
Candles and Printed Menus
Open flame was a no-no so I found some fantastic silver LED votive candles with a very amber colored flickering flame. They were 50% off at Michaels along with glass votive holders so after visiting three Michael’s to find enough, I was able to put six candles on each table which gave the room the gorgeous warm “glow” I was looking for.
I know it is hard to tell from the picture so you are just going to have to trust me on this.
Last, a printed Menu on each side of the table runner.
Remember the inspiration photo?
And here is my much simpler version …
I did the layout on Microsoft Word (because it is what I know) and printed them out on cardstock at home. Easy and I.N.E.X.P.E.N.S.I.V.E.
I really could not be happier with how everything turned out and want to encourage you not to be afraid to “do it yourself” too for your next party or even a major event.
Do you have a wedding, company dinner, birthday party coming up?
Do some leg work, search the internet and Pinterest for ideas, come up with a theme, hunt for bargains, get organized and get going! The satisfaction of “creating” is truly it’s own reward. And stretching your budget aint so bad either!
In the next couple of posts I will share dessert with you and how the whole event turned out. Please be sure to visit again soon. If you have any entertaining tips or tricks to share, leave a comment for me as I would love to hear about them!
Oh, and don’t forget to watch A Christmas Story.
And call your mom and thank her for all she does for you.