Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Table Setting Logic...Think: Who, What, When, Where and Why!

In early March, we received a rash of e-mails proposing the idea of a family reunion/birthday party for my now 87 year old mother-in-law (to be). We had, and still have, a great deal going on in our family this year...Babies have been born, family members are retiring and joining us as residents of Cape Cod, distantly located family hadn't seen loved ones in a while and, sadly, Wayne's 87 year old mother is battling tongue cancer. So, we decided to come together at the two houses on the Cape (the family farm house and a nearby, newly built house) to celebrate life and rally our healing powers and prayers.

I was cooking and freezing ahead for weeks because approximately 30 (give or take) people were coming to spend quality time together. In addition, Wayne and I are in "The Season" and shops don't run themselves. Food preparation aside, we also faced challenges with making changes in the house, so that we would be able to accommodate our guests for the party, and for future, expected summer visitors, in a somewhat organized and comfortable manner.

As we rolled up our sleeves to begin, I began to think of ways I could accomplish this creatively, economically, and without becoming too overwhelmed. I began with "who, what, when, where and why" and you wouldn't believe what thoughts and ideas easily came to mind.

Wayne's mom is extremely thrifty. I knew I was going to have to use things that were always in the house (like the blue and white dishes) and ease my compulsive need for a certain type of presentation (this has to match that, and that has to match this and it all has to be hand/home made), while sticking to a reasonable budget...Let me rephrase that...The cost had to be cheap, cheap, cheap! So, "who"?...Wayne's frugal Mom and lots of hungry people. "What"?...Birthday party/reunion (so, it had to be very special). "When"?...Summertime, heat, near 4th of July, and right in the height of our business time. "Where"...Cape Cod, beach, sand, etc. "Why"? Because we love each other and sometimes you just have to stop your busy lives and make the people you love feel special!

Even though we all pitched in and contributed for the 5 days full of meals and activities, Wayne and I were to host the "Lobster Reunion/Birthday Party". Below are some sample pictures of what and how I came up with the place settings:

Luckily, I had a large amount of these plates. I decided to go with summertime/traditional "lobster dinner" colors not only because of the time of year or the fact that we had the plates, but also because of a yard sale I had been to that offered up large amounts of coordinating fabrics, for cheap prices. Also, Lobster is a "sit down" dinner and can be quite messy, so I chose to help the environment and try to save on the use of paper products.

I made cloth napkins by simply ripping 2 of the coordinating fabrics into squares (View sample in my previous post to see the other napkin fabric. I set the table every-other). I made the napkin rings by cutting toilet paper roll centers into 4 pieces, wrapping them with torn, frayed strips of fabric and gluing them to the roll. I then ripped other fabric into strips and made bows, glued the bows onto the ring and glued an antique button on each bow center! After that, I folded and fanned the napkin, slipped the ring over it, slid the utensils and a plastic lobster bib into the center and we were good to go!

Close up of wrapping.

Yet another close up!

I used some fun paper napkins for the horsdeovres' table. I got these cement birds out of Wayne's dollar box outside his shop. They helped me keep the napkins from blowing away!

I found these cute tin pails at Christmas Tree Shops and put extra utensils in them. And shown in front of the pails, is a sample of the favors I made for each person.

People love to take home a little memento. This was so simple, but meant so much. I got little clay pots for each and filled them with a little red candle. I wrapped the rim with a fabric strip (to match the napkin rings), and added the bow and button. With a blue paint pen, I wrote: "Marge's 87th" on the back and "Family 2010" on the front. I filled each small cellophane bag with red and white confetti mixed with peppermint Cape Cod taffy. (Their wrappers were red, white and blue!)

All tied up with raffia and ready to go!

Here's a place setting for yet another party in another season. So you see, I haven't wasted anything. I have all my napkins laundered, my rings stored, and I am all set to entertain again, but perhaps with a different theme!

I made these arrangements for two of the food tables. Once again, Wayne's dollar bin came in handy. Isn't this aluminum tea pot cute with the geraniums and vinca? When Wayne saw the pots he said, "Hey! You owe me $2.00!" I said, "Well, I spent the rest of my money at the grocery, so I will have to pay you in grilled chicken!"

The eating tables had these sand candles on them. I used the dessert size blue and white plate as a candle dish and put the taffy and confetti around them. If you would like to make some of these candles for one of your parties, please refer to my previous post, "Come Play In the Sand", for the basic sand candle recipe.

Pictured here are the supplies for making the sand candles with dyed sand. I used 1/4 tsp. of tempera paint, per cup of sand. I added just enough water to spread and whisk the color throughout the sand.

I spread the sand on a cookie sheet to let it dry and later use it to roll the candles on.

Keep a good thought while waiting for the sand to dry! When it does, break it up fine and you are ready to roll!

When I post again, I will show you how to make the cushion covers! In the meanwhile, be happy!

Pieces of Dreams


  1. I love all of these ideas... Wow! So adorable! Can't wait to see more ♥

  2. Oh Karen, everything looks wonderful! you have some beautiful creative and Thrifty ideas!! Love it all!

  3. Those napkin rings are just precious!! So festive. :) I wanted to stop by and say thanks for your comment on my Keyring Photo Album project at The Shabby Chic Cottage. :) Hope you'll stop by my blog sometime!

  4. Love the frugal ideas! And, the wonderful vibrant reds white and blues! It really speaks to summer on Cape Cod! So inviting and cheerful!
    Dandelion Wishes from your neigbor just over the Sagamore Bridge!

  5. Very creative! Love your great ideas!


  6. Hi, I enjoyed my stop here very much. Great ideas.

  7. What a great party plan!!! I love all the red, white and blue in your lobster color scheme. I love the Cape!! Lucky you to live there..AND have the Christmas Tree Shoppes too. Wow! :)

  8. My gracious girl, you are the thrifty one, and I'm sure Marge was impressed with all of your decorations. I loved the tea pot with the geranium and vinca. Everything looked fresh and crisp, and your photographs captured it all beautifully. I don't think of you as a (to be ) daughter-in-law. You re the real McCoy! Cheers Lori