Monday, January 22, 2018

How to Decorate for a Large Event on a Budget

Each year, the non-profit I work with host a large scale banquet. It's our biggest fund raiser of the year. I do a lot of negotiating regarding our menu and the venue. But then there's the decorating. You see, I LOVE to decorate! It's my favorite part of any event but because we are a non-profit and we're trying to raise money, I have to be very very careful about spending too much money. Did I mention that we don't charge for the banquet. However we do recruit table sponsors that covers the cost of the dinner.

Every year we choose a theme for our banquet.This past fall our theme was, "What Is Your Story? "We had 36 tables so that meant 36 centerpieces.   I immediately thought about story books. Story books tell stories.  So I started thinking about using books as part of the centerpieces. I decided to start with a few books on each table. How would I ever find that many least a stack of three books on each table. Goodwill!  Bingo! But I didn't want just any book.  I wanted auto-biographies or biographies. People telling their story. Perfect!

At Goodwill, all hard back books which is what I wanted, are $1.99 each. Wouldn't you know it. Someone had donated a boat load of books and Goodwill was trying to get rid of them so they were selling them for .99 each plus I get a 20% further discount! So each book was .79 each! Boom! So the search started. I was delighted to see how many biographies I was able to find! But I needed 108 of them! After visiting every Goodwill in Omaha, I found more than enough. Next I took off the book jackets. I wanted them to look clean and uniform. Then I built stacks of three books times 36 tables and tied ribbons around each stack.

Flowers. I needed flowers. My "go-to" for flowers is Costco on line. You can choose your delivery date and the fresh flowers are delivered right to your door in flower boxes. Helpful hint, buy five gallon buckets from your favorite hardware store (Lowes) and fill them about 1/3 to /12 full of cool water. Add the "flower powder" that's enclosed with the flowers. Before putting the flowers in the bucket, trim off any leaves that would be below the water line. That can cause the flowers to wilt sooner.  

What to put the flowers in that won't break the bank? Why of course! Mason jars or Ball Jars. I took 36 Ball jars and spray painted them a metallic silver. The night before the dinner I put the arrangements together and they were ready to go. For our event, I chose red Gerber daisies and white roses plus Babies' Breath and greenery. With the black table clothes and red napkins I choose, this was going to be stunning. In addition, I ordered from Ikea, small white frames for .99/each. I printed table numbers on scrapbook paper that looked like a book page. I also bought 36 $1 5x7 frames from the local dollar store to put the names of each of our table sponsors on the tables. (The frames and jars will be reused at another event.) I had wood slices from a previous event that I reused.

I found these tiny little hearts on Etsy that said, "Once Upon A Time" that we scattered on each table

Next post will cover the decor of the entry and the stage. Stay tuned! Photo Credit: Alex Madsen

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