Diner en Blanc: The Ultimate Dining Experience in the Most Unusual Spaces
I had a MEMORABLE time! The vibe was strong and stimulating. Looking over the crowd, all you see is an ocean of white. The tabletop designs were very stylish and the various menu items prepared looked so enticing against the white place settings.
Being a professional in the party industry made planning for this event fun and exciting. I used the same steps as if I were planning a cocktail party for a client. You may think this is going to be a lot of work having to bring EVERYTHING, but it doesn't have to be if you are organized. I'm going to walk you through the steps on how to plan, prep & pack for a fancy picnic for two.
STEP 1 - REGISTRATION
These tickets go really fast, so don't PROCRASTINATE! 🙂
What are the key rules of the event?
- In order to participate, guests must be a member or be sponsored by a member from the previous year, OR they must sign up on the official website's waiting list.
- Once confirmed, each guests' participation in the event becomes mandatory, regardless of weather conditions, as Dîner en Blanc is a rain or shine event.
- Participants arrive and then depart in unison by chartered bus or organized public transportation.
- They take all of their belongings with them at the end of the night.
- A table and two white chairs.
- A picnic basket including a white tablecloth and napkins, gourmet meal items, cutlery, dishware, and glassware.
- Wine or Champagne must be purchased through Diner en Blanc wine sponsor. Beer and hard alcohol is prohibited.
- Participants must wear white (and white only) and be dressed elegantly.
- Originality is always encouraged as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste.
STEP 2 - MENU PLANNING
When planning your menu, keep in mind this is a picnic for two. You won't need a lot of food, so you can get a little creative with your menu. There is no stove or microwave to warm up your food, plus you'll be outside, so you may want to think about foods that keep well at room temperature, unless you're bringing a cooler to keep food cold. If you live in Houston, a cooler is a great option. Sometimes it 85 degrees at night.
TIP: I used foil pans with lids to keep my food. Clean up is easy and this is something you don't have to repack just toss in the trash, unless you have leftovers.
PREPAID WINE & CATERING - Diner En Blanc offers a prepaid catering service for convenience, check website for details. Outside wine, beer or liquor is prohibited, but you can pre-purchase your wine selections with Diner en Blanc's wine sponsor. You can pick up your dinner & wine at the secret venue. Make sure you observe the assigned deadlines for these services.
STEP 3 - DESIGN & DECOR
DEB encourages participants to get creative with their tabletop design. Every year you can expect to see over-the-top table decorations. REMEMBER, you have to carry these things to and from the picnic site and you won't know how far you have to walk, so less is more. if it's your time, I would suggest keeping it minimal and simple. You don't want to get overwhelmed. Visit my Pinterest board, All White Dinner Party, for a little inspiration.
Dinner is in the evening, so lighting can really set the mood. You can incorporate strings of battery powered white lights, table lanterns or white battery operated candles. When deciding your tabletop design, create a mock-up at home. This will help you to stay organized, plus set-up time at the venue is short, so you must be able to move quickly with confidence. It will save you time and frustration.
Below is a gallery of photos from around the web that demonstrate fabulous tabletop designs created for Diner en Blanc:
TIP: Set up a mock setting to get an idea of what works and what won't work.
STEP 4 - PACK IT UP
TABLE AND CHAIRS - Your table and chairs are your bulkiest items, I suggest using a folding cart. This made my experience and my mood (lol) a whole lot better. I was also able to pack some of the other items I had to bring. Here's the one I used. This portable dollie is great as well, make sure you get the bungee cords to hold your items in place. Whatever you decide, it has to fit underneath your table, so it needs to be compact.
Camping tables in a bag are great, they roll-up, light-weight and easy to carry. The table does not have to be white, as it will be covered with a table cloth.
You can also rent your tables, chairs and linens at your local party rental store. This option works well for those who don't want to purchase tables, chairs and linens.
PICNIC BASKET/INSULATED TOTE
You'll need to put all of your items in something easy to carry around and DEB highly recommends a picnic basket. If you don't bring a rolling cooler, I'd highly suggest a tote bag cooler or a Styrofoam cooler. We were able to put all of our food items in the small cooler and everything else, in the tote bag.
Of course, you can use what you have, but for things you don't have, I've sourced the internet for items I found on Amazon.com, DollarTree.com & Walmart.com:
TABLES & CHAIRS:
- Alextend Fold in Half Square Table, 35 by 35 inch, White
- Coleman Outdoor Compact Table
- Table in a Bag, Aluminum Portable Table With Carrying Bag
- Adams Manufacturing 8590-48-3731 Quik-Fold Cafe Bistro Set, White
- Flash Furniture Hercules Series 800-Pound Premium Plastic Folding Chair, White
TOTES & BASKETS:
- White insulated Picnic Tote Bag for Diner en Blanc & Bonus Carry Bag
- LARGE COOL BAG WHICH FOLDS DOWN FOR EASY CARRYING! FOLDABLE COOLER BAG (White)
- Augbunny Heavy Duty 100% Cotton Canvas Zipper Beach Shoulder Grocery Tote Bag With Outer Pocket 2-pack
- Pack of 3- Eco-friendly Reusable Bag Non woven Grocery Tote bag 15"H x 13"W x 10"gusset with handles In White - Holiday Gift Bag Sale
- Boothbay Two person Picnic basket (White)
- Lifoam™ 24 Can Large Cooler w/Handle
COOLERS & CARTS:
- Sparco Compact Luggage Cart, 150 lbs., Capacity, Open 14-3/4 x 13-3/4 x 35 Inches, CE (SPR01753)
- Igloo Marine Breeze Roller Cooler
- Shopping Folding Cart with Strong Frame and Solid Rubber Tires, Black with Free Black Liner
- HOMDOX Portable Folding Hand Truck Dolly Cart Telescopic Travel Trolley
- 36" Standard Bungee Cord, 2 Pack
- LinenTablecloth 54-Inch Square Polyester Tablecloth White
- 120 x 120 -inch White Square Polyester Tablecloth
- 1 - Table (square 27" to 36")
- 2 - White Chairs (other than white, use white chair cover)
- Picnic Basket / Rolling Cooler
- White Tablecloth
- 2 - Napkins (white, cloth)
- Dinner for Two
- Dinner Plates (glass, porcelain, white or clear, no plastic or paper)
- Wine/Beverage Glasses
- Wine or Champagne. Beer and hard alcohol is prohibited.
- Water/Non-Alcoholic Beverage
STEP 5 - DAY OF
DAY OF - On the day of, bring your confirmation letter and your Photo ID, they will check. Make sure you have on the appropriate apparel. IF IT"S NOT WITHIN THE GUIDELINES, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE. WHITE APPAREL, NO BEIGE, NO TAUPE. These rules are strictly enforced.
You will depart from your designated location and transported by bus to the secret location. After you arrive, your Table Leader will guide you to your designated dining area. You begin to set-up your table and after a certain amount of time, everyone will wave their white napkin in the air signaling Diner en Blanc has begun.
I hope this post was helpful and I look forward to seeing you at Diner En Blanc Houston.
NOTE: This editorial is not affiliated with or sponsored by Diner en Blanc. All opinions are my own from my personal experience with attending Diner en Blanc in Houston