Decorating A Banquet For CCA: 700 People and 70 Tables….On A Budget!

 

When my friend, Stephanie, who is on the board of the CCA Charity League, called and asked me if I would be willing to decorate for the annual fundraising banquet, “Season of Hope”, this fall for 700 people (70 tables of 10) it was late August and I was sitting on a porch in Angelfire, New Mexico relaxing with friends and recuperating from a busy work schedule.  And, frankly I wasn’t at all sure it was a project I was willing to take on.  Not because I don’t love this sort of thing – I do….and not because I don’t love, encourage and support CCA –I absolutely do! 

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It’s just…..I’m a working girl and projects like this take an incredible amount of time and energy and I just wasn’t sure I could swing it.  And, even if I could…..I wasn’t sure if I was willing.  My schedule stays so busy the thought of adding something else to my already demanding business was overwhelming.  (And, I was already suffering from serious “burn out” from a busy work load through the spring and summer.)

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However, I’m the praying type, and this is for a really good cause so after giving it some thought, some prayer and discussing it with my hubby I decided I’d take the project on. 

But, I told her, if I was going to take on a project of this magnitude and squeeze the time into my already busy schedule I’d do it on one condition…..that she help me!

She agreed.

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The first thing we did was do an inventory check of any and everything CCA had in their stash that I might be able to use.  We found some silver candlesticks and some silver containers.  We had enough candlesticks for 20-25 tables and enough containers for 10 of those tables (which left another forty five to fifty tables).   With this start – I decided silver would be our accent color of choice through out.

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CCA’s theme colors are black, white and red and fortunately I had quite a few flowers I’d used for my son’s wedding that would work beautifully.  I laid out what I had all over my driveway and figured out how many more I’d need.  I wanted each table to have a touch of the same look whether it be a large arrangement or a small one.  I had 10 arrangements still made up from the wedding (check ‘em out here) and needed to make another 55 or so!

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I made 12 more large floral arrangements using these slender vases from my own stock (I used these at my son’s rehearsal dinner with different arrangements – you can take a peak here)  By the way all those boxes and bags you see – full of banquet “stuff”!

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I still had these florals and these vases made from the wedding, but this filler wouldn’t work for my new color scheme. However, it was such an ordeal creating this filler I wasn’t up for re-doing them all so I borrowed ten vases from my client, Jane, who used them for her son’s wedding as well. I needed to come up with a new cheap, easy filler for these vases that would work with our theme so after giving it much thought I decided to put my leftover wedding tulle to good use.  I had plenty of it so it was free.  My favorite word! (By the way I had this brown satin fabric so I was just “pretending” it was my tablecloth for experimenting purposes – I actually used white – FYI!)

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For the thinner vases I simply wrapped the stems in tulle and stored them separate from the vases until time for the event.

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For the larger vases I created cylinders with poster board and taped the edges together…..

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Then I wrapped them in tulle thick enough to fill the vase, but leaving the center of the cylinder open so that the floral stems could be stored separately and then slipped down inside the vase at the event.  (This is basically what I did at the wedding only I used PVC pipe instead of poster board.  It was much easier and much cheaper using the poster board.  Live and learn!) 

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Using containers I was able to retrieve and recycle from CCA Resale I made more floral arrangements  – one for each table…

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All the containers were different…

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I filled in a few tables with some of my own clear vases, but the majority of them were CCA resale items like these shown above. In addition to the ten that were already made I made 55 new arrangements- 12 larger vases and 43 varying smaller vases.  (I could never be a full time florist.  I feel like I have arthritis in my hands now!)

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One thing I thought might be fun would be to show people just how versatile the resale items at the CCA Resale stores could be.   The CCA Resale stores sell all the items that are donated to CCA in order to help fund the CCA program to sponsor and help those in need – so their sales are very instrumental in helping to keep the program running.  And, there are a great many things people can do with them at these low prices if they just had the vision to do so

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I wanted to use some of these items on some of the tables to demonstrate to guests the advantages of shopping there and when I ran the idea by the staff they loved it. So I went to two of the local stores and packed up my SUV (twice) with donated items to decorate tables with.  Like these candlesticks, this cross, this urn and this Asian stand shown above.  Don’t be deceived by how ratty tatty this all looks together. Once I was through with them they had an entirely different personality!

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As did this mish mash of stuff (although this platter was already so cool I left it alone)……

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This….

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This….

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And much more….

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All had a serious personality change….

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After playing around with all the accessories and meticulously figuring out what I wanted to put together and how I wanted each tablescape to look I carted everything out to my back yard a table at a time, cleaned them off…. 

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Then started painting, painting, painting!  I used Rust-oleum Silver Hammered Spray Paint and Silver Metallic Spray Paint.  Notice this has the primer in it, too.  Take a look at all the surfaces it works on…..and yes, it even works on glass, too!

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This gold lamp-turned candleholder, this votive….

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This dated pink vase and these gold candlesticks….all transformed into something fresh and updated with silver. As were these:

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Everything got 2 coats of silver paint….

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Since the theme of the banquet is called Season of Hope I wanted to emphasize that by placing a picture frame on each table with the word “HOPE” displayed.  The purpose of CCA after all is to bring hope to the needy. So I recruited my daughter-in-law, Katie, and had her stencil the word “hope” onto several different sizes so we could frame them.  I had collected 70 or so frames – most from the CCA Resale stores by the way – and had Stephanie and some of the charity league members paint all of them (except the ones I had already experimented with) the hammered silver.  The frames were all different sizes and shapes so we had to have enough different sizes and shapes of the stencil to accommodate each frame.

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I had her use the same stencil I used from my son’s wedding (you can see that post here).  When the originals were finished I took them to Office Max and made enough copies of each size and shape to fill the frames I’d gotten.  (They were only .10 cents a copy, by the way) I think they turned out great, don’t you?

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I bought yards and yards of white satin (over 200 yards) with my 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby and had Stephanie and her friend, Genie, cut them all down to a yard and a half pieces in order to create a square topper for each table.  (This gave us toppers that cost around $3.00 apiece!)  Genie voluntarily surged some of them, but didn’t have time to finish before the event. (The edges were turned under so no one knew they weren’t finished off anyway.)

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I was able to round up some actual silver pieces from CCA Resale for some of the tables – continuing our silver accent theme  (Yes, you’d be amazed at what you can find at one of their resale stores).

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Definitely gives truth to the old adage “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!” Don’t you agree?!!

When it was finally time to set up I had seven, yes seven, SUV loads of “stuff” to haul up to the hotel.  Fortunately a number of the charity league members came to help deliver and set up along with a couple of my friends, my husband, my mom and my daughter. 

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I’m not gonna lie….when I walked into the banquet room and saw this massive sea of tables to decorate it was slightly intimidating.  But, I had my helpers and I was confident in the tablescapes I’d meticulously planned…it was just a matter of getting busy and working quickly.   We interspersed the three different types of table designs for symmetry and balance – a floral table, then a table with CCA Resale items and then a table with CCA candlesticks alternated repeatedly in “threesomes” throughout the space. (Does that make any sense?) Then I went table by table to tweak and arrange all the accessories and re-fluff all the flowers.  Stephanie painstakingly followed not far behind adding all the candlesticks.

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And, in the end, with the candles lit and the tables set….it created a magical atmosphere when guests walked into the ballroom.  I’m not sure if it’s totally reflected in the pictures, but the words that were used by others to describe it were – magical, exquisite, breathtaking…..which gave me a great feeling of satisfaction.  I felt very proud and very happy with the outcome.  But, the nicest compliment of all was when local TV personality, Scott Murray, who emceed the event said that he’d been to many, many events over the last twenty years, but when he walked into the CCA banquet he had to stop and say, “Wow!”.   That just confirmed for me – mission accomplished”! 

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The silver made some of the showiest tables at the banquet.  Makes you wonder how people just give this stuff away!  Doesn’t it?!  (Notice the “hope” sign by the way?)

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Any floral in a clear vase got wrapped in the tulle to hide the stems and stay consistent with the larger vases.

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See the transformation in these accessories with a couple coats of paint?  Remember what this vase looked like originally?  It was yellow glass!  Unifying everything with silver gave the tables, and in turn the banquet, an elegant, sophisticated vibe.

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See what I mean about all the different shapes and sizes of frames?  We had all sizes, shapes and styles.

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Seeing these accessories now you’d never know that everything was originally different colors and different textures.  The silver paint gave everything a uniform, cohesive look.

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Remember this square piece?…..It was a bamboo like Kleenex holder.  Now it’s a fun, funky candle stand.

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Remember the green obelisk?  And, this gold glass vase?  New life breathed into them with a couple coats of paint.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….paint is our friend!

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It was a lot of exhausting hard work, a lot of time…..

but,  it was an honor and I must say a lot of satisfaction for both Stephanie and I to be a part of such a great event. 

Then it was time to break it all down!!

And, before we were even finished breaking down the tables and packing up they ask if we’d be interested in doing it again next year…..and, though we took it as quite a compliment, we just had to laugh,  plug our ears and tell them we were too exhausted to even begin to think that far ahead!!

A shout out and many thanks to Susan Joyce of SJDesigns for the gorgeous florals used in the foyer, to Half Price books for their generous donation of books for props and to Lowe’s for giving freely of their time to prepare woodwork for the event.

Happy Decorating!!

7 comments for “Decorating A Banquet For CCA: 700 People and 70 Tables….On A Budget!

  1. Susan
    October 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    You out did yourself!!! Just beautiful:)

  2. Barbie
    October 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Great job Sheri!

  3. Alma Maynard
    November 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    the room was amazing. It did not even remotely look like you were on a tight budget.

  4. January 15, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Sheri,
    This was absolutely the most elegant and beautiful gala CCA has ever had. I should know because I’ve been to all of them. No other even holds a close second in comparision. You are truly gifted!

  5. January 15, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Wow, thanks Jennifer! I can’t tell you how much that means to me – especially from such an experienced “CCA-er”. Thank you so much for sharing that!

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