How To Plan, Prep and Pack For Diner En Blanc

Diner en Blanc: The Ultimate Dining Experience in the Most Unusual Spaces

What is Diner en Blanc?  Dîner en Blanc was born in Paris. This all-white chic picnic is no ordinary picnic.  You must get invited by someone who is already a member or you can join the Houston Waiting List to receive an invitation. Guests must wear white, bring a table, chairs, decor and food.  Ç'est Magnifique!

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.  

Diner en Blanc Houston 2016 - Minute Maid Park

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.

Must-bring items?

  • 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.

Dress Code

  • 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 & CATERINGDiner 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.

Feel free to visit my Pinterest board, All White Dinner Party Inspirations ,for more recipes. Here are a few delectable and easy suggestions to help you create the perfect menu:

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:

TOTES & BASKETS:

COOLERS & CARTS:

TABLE LINEN:

 

The Essentials

  • 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
  • Cutlery/Service-ware
  • 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

Decor & Miscellaneous:

  • Décor (white)
  • Votive candles (battery operated)
  • Food Containers
  • Water/Beverage
  • Trash Bags (for trash and dirty dishes) 
  • 1 Sharp Knife (if needed for your food)
  • Paper Towels (for clean up)
  • Wet Wipes/Antibacterial Wash
  • Bottle Opener
  • Ice Packs
  • Rolling Cart

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.

Bon Jour!

 

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

Planning a Picnic with Style

Summertime is Picnic Season!

Who doesn't love a fabulous picnic! It's a great way to spend time with friends and a reason to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors.  

What is a picnic?  As if you didn't know,  a picnic is just a portable party in the park, the backyard, the country-side, camp-grounds or on the beach with a basket of tasty delights, cold thirst quenchers and a lil' something sweet.

What’s not to love about dining al fresco?  Whether your outing is for two or 20, we have rustled up a few tips to get you started.  So check your calendar and start planning a picnic with style!

STEP 1 - Choose a location

Miller Outdoor Theater - Hermann Park - Houston, Tex

The park is the most common place for a picnic.  Try and schedule your picnic when there is something going on like a concert in the park or theater under the stars.  Make sure your location has the amenities you need to accommodate your picnickers, such as, where are the restroom facilities located, and how far is it to the picnic area from the car. These are just a few things to keep in mind when planning.

STEP 2 - Get the Word Out

picnic
This design was created for FREE on Evite.com

Send a festive invitation to get your guests in the mood for a night under the stars.  Our friends at Evite have an array of fun and festive ideas.  You can create your own for free, like the one above, or check out some of Evite's Premium designs to get your party started. 

STEP 3 - Create Menu

fotolia_60358398For dining in a dash, choose a menu that does not require heat, keep your menu cold or room temperature and fresh.

Try to avoid foods with mayonnaise. Pasta salads with veggies, chicken or shrimp with a savory creamy dressing or a vinaigrette are great choices.  These can be made ahead of time. Fruit salads are refreshing and a great palate cleanser. 

STEP 4 - Shop & Prep

Image1Create a checklist of everything you will need to create the perfect picnic experience.  Fresh food is always a winner.  Seek fun ways to serve your menu, for instance use clear cups with lids for serving individual salads.  Use wax or parchment paper for wrapping sandwiches tied with bakers twine.  Make watermelon pops by by slicing melon into triangle and insert Popsicle stick.  Voila! Dining with style!

STEP 5 - Dinnerware

fotolia_78387748

Service with style and flare.  Consider using plastic, colorful dinnerware instead of boring old paper plates.  It is also an eco-friendly way to cut down on waste and they are reusable.  Make sure you pack something to contain your dirty dishes.  Choose dinnerware according to your menu.

STEP 6 - The Other Stuff

Bring extra zipper bags, foil or take-out boxes for leftovers for guest to take and enjoy later.  Baby wipes are an easy way to keep hands clean and it's compact.  Don't forget the garbage bags to keep trash under control and the picnic area clean.  Remember to take insect repellent, hand sanitizer and salt & pepper condiments, whatever you need to make your picnic experience a hassle free experience. 

STEP 7 - Enjoy!

Find a great spot on the grass to set-up your picnic and enjoy the concert!


Evite

Check out some of Evite's Premium designs or create an online invite for FREE.

 

This post was a partnership with Evite. I was compensated by Evite for my time in developing this post. All opinions are my own.

It’s time for tea!

fotolia_93619820In the world of takeout coffee, being invited to a tea party is a special occasion. Although most people associate tea parties with Great Britain, the roots of the tea tradition date back to ancient China and the 2nd century BC. Other cultures in which rituals starring this herbal beverage occupy a prominent place include Korea, Japan, Russia, India, Thailand, and Turkey.

Despite popular belief, tea rituals are not exclusively an aristocratic habit: in fact, tea parties offer an excellent alternative to formal dinners and fancy banquets. To throw a tea party, you will need basic knowledge of tea table arrangements and the necessary supplies including a teapot/kettle, tea cozy, cups and saucers, tea strainer, pitchers, silverware, and napkins.

Classic Tea Set and Fabric Design

Setting the table
Depending on the number of guests, set the table either as a full-scale buffet or place the tea set in the center of the table. For a sophisticated tablescape, use quality home decor fabric, such as stylish tablecloths and elegant napkins to create a perfect party backdrop.

The tea set (kettle, trays with sugar, lemon, honey, and water and milk pitchers) should be placed toward the head of the table where you will serve tea. The rest of the table can be laid with dessert plates laden customary food, such as tea sandwiches, cakes, cupcakes, scones, and fruit.

Picking the right tea set
There is no shortage of refined tea utensils on the market: you can use all-white ceramics, mismatched cups and chipped saucers, cast iron teapots, delftware, gilded sets, or modernist tea infusers and designer sets.

Think of your tea table as the canvas onto which you will paint the colors of bonhomie: you can place a carnation or rose at every seat, or you can pare the look down to a vase with a tasteful bouquet or a single flower at the center.

Classy tea sets make an excellent conversation starter, and an elaborately decorated teapot can also double as a table centerpiece instead of candles or flower arrangements.

Alessi Tea Set

As for the tea service, you can find fine examples of contemporary tea craft at renowned Italian design brand Alessi. The brand’s latest kettle design draws on the blueprints of the best-selling 9093 kettle, but it replaces the iconic bird-shaped whistle perched atop the kettle spout with a dragon created by late designer Michael Graves in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Alessi teakettle.

HORNE tea set

Another noteworthy tea service that will make a lasting impression on your guests, HORNE tea sets boast a range of hybrid, minimalist and lavish gold-streaked designs executed in stainless steel, brass, and porcelain, blending recognizable Scandinavian, French and Asian elements.

Emmo Home Tea Set

Or, if you prefer a modernist look to conventional tea sets, try Emmo Home: a combination of minimalist elegance and unexpected visual twists (think stainless steel tea sticks, holey citrus baskets and tea bag-shaped infusers), this brand is a go-to for creative spirits and postmodern tea lovers.

Tea gadgetry galore
A carefully selected tea gadget can turn around the party mood and add visual interest to a plain tablescape. Over the past few years, we have seen many imaginative takes on the tea infuser design, tiered glass cake platters, asymmetric saucer and teacup renditions and designer tea sets.

Tiered platters are a must-have for tea lovers, and they are an extremely useful extra to have in your cupboard for family gatherings, birthday parties and festive get-togethers.

Whichever tea party accessory you opt for, make sure you strike a balance between appeal and function: after all, a tea party is a social gathering, not an extravaganza show.

Afternoon tea is an excellent excuse to invite your friends over for chit-chat, and the quaint feel of a proper tea party will make you fall in love with the ritual. Polish your silverware, bring out your finest table linens and platters with dainty bites, and put the kettle to boil – it is time for tea!

------written by Sophie Andersen, Contributing Writer

Using Clear Vases and Containers for Simple Centerpiece Designs

85077faf98800b8264cdae737c9bb6a5Decorating with clear containers is a simple, yet elegant way to create a fabulous centerpiece designs.

Using fruit, such as lemons, limes or oranges, in a clear vase helps stabilize tall arrangements and adds color and texture to the mix.  

Select a clear glass vase and add a pillar or floating candle. Choose décor filler, such as sand, rocks or glass pebbles, that will complement your design.

 

 

 

 

Basic Table Setting

A properly set table is a great introduction to a fabulous meal. Stylish place settings are ideal for creating an extraordinary dining experience.

Basic Table Setting
Basic Table Setting

Here are some tips for creating a basic table setting for your next special occasion:

  • When setting the dinner table, place settings should be evenly spaced and flatware should be balanced.
  • Dinner plates should be spaced far enough apart to allow guests adequate elbowroom.
  • Silverware is placed in the order that it will be used, from the outside in. Don't put out utensils that won't be used.
    • Forks are placed on the left side of plate.
    • Knives and Spoons on the right side of plate
  • Napkins should be cloth and are placed left of the forks or on the plate. Get creative and use a decorative napkin fold as an added signature touch.  (simple napkin fold tutorial) 
  • Bread and Butter plate with Spreader is placed above the forks to the left of the plate.
  • If you are serving dessert, the selected silverware is placed above the plate with the fork handle pointing to the left or the spoon or knife handle pointing right.  If you like, you can bring out the dessert silverware when the dessert is being served.
  • Beverage glasses are placed above the knives in a diagonal slant going from biggest to smallest.
  • If coffee is being served, place cup and saucer to the right of the setting, with the coffee spoon on the right side of saucer. You can also bring the coffee out with dessert.

Tips: 

  • Place knives with their cutting edge towards the plate, and make sure all of the utensil handles line up. If possible, remove the used utensils after each course.
  • The napkin goes to the left of the fork, or on the plate.
  • The bread and butter knife are optional
  • Dress up your place settings with napkin rings
  • Make personalized place cards for each guests.

Note: Use the diagram above as your guide when arranging your place settings.