Has it really been almost a full month since I last posted anything?!? I'm so sorry you guys. Life just got crazy busy all of a sudden and I just couldn't juggle everything I had going on. Last week alone I had 3 big events at church that I was involved in back to back and it kept me hoppin' the entire week. Add in soccer games twice a week and my class I teach on Wednesday nights and we felt like we were barely ever home. But things will start to slow down a bit this week thankfully. All the big events that I was in charge of are over now, and Lil' Man's last soccer game is tonight so that should help slow things down a lot!
One of the things I was in charge of last week was our church's annual Christmas banquet. A couple of months ago our pastor asked me if I'd be willing to be in charge of the decorations and the food. An excuse to decorate for a party? Of course I said yes!! I had it all planned out the next day, lol!
Fast forward about two months and it was finally banquet day. When I got to the fellowship hall this is what it looked like. Pretty much a disaster because we had been working on stuff for our Christmas parade float in here the day before.
All the float signs and paint and other paraphernalia were still around the room, as well as the stacks of wrapped boxes for the float.
The ping-pong table was in the corner and extra tables, etc, etc. In short, it was a mess. And I didn't bring anyone to help me because when it comes to decorating I work better by myself. I just hadn't planned on having to do SO much cleaning up first. But thankfully the pastor and his wife came and helped me move all the float stuff out, and extra tables, and such and get all the chairs up so I could clean the floors. That was a blessing. But after that was done I was on my own to transform the place into some semblance of order suitable for a banquet.
After 8 hours of cleaning and decorating it looked like this.
I wish I had more time to set up a tripod and get better pictures, but people started showing up early and I had to just snap what I could and be done with it. I kept some of the wrapped boxes from the float and stacked them to fill one corner over by the back door. Notice in the back of the above picture, on the right, the drink table. I never did get a closer picture of it, but it looked cute with a wool plaid blanket spread over it and the drink dispensers sitting on top.
I used the lattice that was leaning against the wall to cover up the unused piano and organ over against the far wall.
Against another wall I set up a photo-op area. It's kind of a "thing" with our church that every party or banquet has a photo area, so of course I had to uphold the tradition.
I strung white lights up and down the wall and then hung a white sheet over them.
It gave off the most beautiful soft glow and made a wonderful background for pictures. The lanterns were glowing too, but you can't really tell in these pictures.
I brought in stumps of wood from our wood pile at home and set the cute battery operated lanterns on top. My mom was sweet enough to let me borrow these for the banquet. At the time she told me I could use them I had no idea what I would do with them, but I knew I could figure out something cute. They looked great on the wooden stumps. The empty red frame was a photo prop that people could hold up and put their faces behind for their picture. I got it for $2 at a thrift store and just gave it a few coats of red spray paint that I already had. I picked up the cute little chalkboard signs from Walmart for $2 each and they were photo props as well.
I already had the little tree and actually threw it up there at the last minute as part of this vignette. It's propped up on an old wooden drawer that I brought along.
Now, let's take a closer look at the centerpieces.
This picture from Sweet Something Designs was my point of inspiration.
Now here is my version.
Over the couple of months that I was planning I began collecting Christmas colored plaid scarves.
Some I already had, some I found at yard sales, and the rest I scoured eBay for and bought the cheapest ones I could find to keep it as low budget as possible.
I laid the scarves down the center of each table as my table runners, then I layered in the wood slabs. Each table had 3 of them. Hubby was kind enough to cut these for me from his wood pile in his work shop. Did you know that just ONE of these wooden pieces like this costs $15 at the craft store?!? I got 21 of them for FREE from our own stash. :D
I poured Epsom salt into canning jars (brought from home) to resemble snow, and tucked a little unscented votive candle into each one. I layered in fresh greenery all around, and then tucked in faux berries for some color. I finished them off with cute little jingle bells from the dollar store (a pack of 9 for only $1!). In keeping with the low budget, I already had all of the faux berries in my own personal stash, and as for the fresh greenery, when we went to buy our Christmas tree I told the owner of the tree farm about the upcoming banquet and asked if they had any extra greenery they wouldn't be using for their fresh wreaths. She said she couldn't let me have any of the Fraser fir branches, they needed all they had, but she said they couldn't use any cuttings from the Scotch pines because they were too pokey. So she gave me a pair of clippers and told me to go around the lot and that I could clip and have any branches that were touching the ground. They were indeed very pokey, and I had sore hands afterwards, but hey, I had a huge pile of FREE greenery!
These plates I found at Hobby Lobby were absolutely perfect. I had been to a few different stores looking for the perfect ones to go with this theme. I had some criteria. They had to be big (our church likes us some food!), they had to be sturdy, and they had to match the theme without having Santa or anything else too cutesy on them. I didn't really know exactly what I wanted, I just knew that I'd know when I saw them. And I did. As soon as I saw these on the shelf I knew they were the ones. I couldn't even remember at the time what colors were in all of the scarves I had bought because I had collected them over time and actually hadn't looked at them in awhile. So I was really excited when I got the plates home and pulled out the stash of scarves to compare and I realized they matched perfectly with all the reds and blacks! I also loved how they had sort of a chalkboard look to them. It matched my "naughty'' and "nice" chalkboards really well. But probably nobody but me noticed that detail. :D
The forks were actually plastic (no extra dishes to wash, yay!), but I loved how shiny they were and that they had a "real" look to them (also found at Hobby Lobby). And I found nice plastic cups that were just a bit more fancy than plain old clear plastic ones or even styrofoam ones that dressed up the table a bit.
I ended up with 7 different scarves that had 7 different patterns, but all coordinated very nicely on the tables.
There were 35 people signed up to come, so I bought 40 of everything and made 40 place settings, but what I forgot to take into account was the generosity of our people. Some invited extra family members, some invited neighbors at the last minute to come and join the fun and we ended up with closer to 50. We just pulled extra chairs up to the ends of the tables and got out the white styrofoam plates that we always have on hand and it all worked out just fine. The more the merrier. : )
Over on the dessert table I set up this little display using my long wooden ammo box turned upside down and a bit of decor from my own home. The tables were slightly different heights and I had to prop up one end of the box, so the greenery helped disguise the height difference.
The rustic decor was a hit and many people were so kind to tell me how beautiful it all looked. All the hard work of cleaning and setting it all up was worth it.
One lady even told me at church on Sunday that it was the most beautiful she had ever seen it look in the fellowship hall. And that's why I enjoy what I do. I love transforming a space from something plain and boring into something beautiful and festive. And since I used so much that I already had on hand or that I was able to get for free, and since we did the food potluck style, I was able to keep this banquet budget right around $115.
I hope to be back again with another post before Christmas, but if for some reason I don't then I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! And if I don't get my Christmas decor pictures shared before, don't worry, they may be late and Christmas may be done and over with by then, but I'll get them shared. :)