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

Party On-The-Fly with Style: Jewelry Making Holiday Party

Hello darlings! I hope your holiday season is going well!

Our party partners, Evite.com, has challenged their Brand Influencers, a group of bloggers and designers who know how to party, to share our tips on how to plan a "party on the fly".  The challenge was to host a party that didn't fit the usual holiday party theme, such as Ugly Sweater or White Elephant.  We had to think outside the box, like M. Night Shyamalan, and add a "twist" to it. LOL.  And did I mention, limited time and a budget of $100.

Planning a last minute gathering does not have to be stressful.  You have a lot to do in a short period of time, so keep to your plan simple, easy and use a lot of what you already have at home.  To all my fellow procrastinators, relax.......follow my easy-peasy tips for planning a stylish, stress-free last minute shin-dig.

Cocktails & Crafts: Jewelry Making Party

fotolia_107919629

I decided to host a "Cocktails & Crafts: Jewelry Making Party". I thought this would be a great idea for my guests to make something special for someone special.  Handcrafted items are always a great idea for a Christmas gift.  So I placed a call to my friend, Sherri Singleton, a fabulous jewelry designer, to serve as the instructor.  She agreed and then the planning began.

Get The Word Out

evite-invite-free

This invite was created on Evite.com

Procrastinators REJOICE!  Evite.com is your answer to getting the word out FAST and FREE.  It's the easiest way to invite your fabulous friends over for a little last minute holiday cheer.  They have an awesome collection of invitation designs you can send electronically for FREE.  All you have to do is choose a design, input the party details, add your email addresses and SEND.  You will get notifications when someone Replies and it keeps track of who hasn't responded.  

Before you send the invitation, call each guest to give them a heads up.  When planning a last minute gathering, it's best to contact your guests by phone first.  Some may have plans already and can't attend or some may come by later after a previous engagement.  This is also helpful when it comes to planning the menu, it will give you an approximate number of guests who will be attending so you can plan accordingly. Get as much info you can while you have them on the phone, i.e., email addresses or food allergies, if you don't already know.  Also, make them aware that an Evite invite will follow with all the party details and to please RSVP.

Food & Beverage

fotolia_68655635

Plan a simple and easy menu.  I used my entire budget to purchased items that were already prepared and ready to eat:

  • Veggies with ranch dip & hummus
  • Assorted Cheese & Crackers
  • Antipasto
  • Fresh fruits: strawberries, sliced apples, and grapes
  • Tea sandwiches (I took left over turkey from Thanksgiving and made a turkey salad with cranberries & walnuts.)
  • Signature Drink - Moscato (I had a few bottles leftover from a previous party)

The Scene

If you are anything like me, your Christmas tree and holiday decor has been up since November 1st (smile).  If you don't have an holiday decor up, pull out the old votive candles and place them strategically  throughout the party area. To add a little aroma in the air, I burned my favorite essential oil, Spiced Patchouli.  It's exotic and not overpowering.

Being a creative who loves to design and make beautiful things, I had everything needed for my guests to get inspired to create. I placed everything needed to make jewelry on the dining table, including 2 organza drawstring jewelry pouches for each guest to place their finished designs in, ready for gift giving.

fotolia_50929181

 

Post Party

evite-thankyou
This invite was created on Evite.com

 

Of course, a good host will always send a thank you card.  Evite.com can help you with that as well.  

As you can see planning a party on the fly is possible.  It's not rocket science, just keep it simple, easy and fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

EGG-treme Decorating

Here comes Peter Cottontail....with a basket full of stylish Easter eggs!

fotolia_101195414

Our friends at Evite, where they believe “Life’s Better Together”, has asked their Influencer Network to share our memories and ideas on gathering with family during Easter.

My fondest memories of Easter is dying eggs with my sister, my mom and my grandmother. Going to the drug store to get the decorating kits has been quoted, by me and my sister as "the best day ever", LOL! 

fotolia_77583969

fotolia_105220990

{Click here for classic egg dying recipe}

Why not turn this great family pastime into a party! Invite friends over, serve up some sassy appetizers, pop open your favorite wines and let the decorating commence! 

To get the word out, I created an invitation with Evite's "Design Your Own Invitation" feature.  This feature allows you to insert your own pic to get your guests "egg-cited" about the fun they are about to "egg-perience". Ok, I promise, no more egg puns. 😉

Evite-Card

If you don't think you can eat 3 dozen eggs :), dress up your lovelies in an egg carton wrapped in clear paper or sheets of tissue paper, tie it up with a fancy ribbon, attach a tag and give as gifts to your neighbors and friends.  You can also use baskets stuffed with straw, plastic egg cartons, boxes...whatever lights up your bulb.{smile}

fotolia_21288608fotolia_103548025

fotolia_102574167

Not in the mood to cook eggs because you may not be able to eat them all (lol),  feel free to venture off and use wood or plastic products shaped like eggs.  These items can be reused again for next year or put on display as your own original art collection. 

fotolia_76650669

fotolia_76956315

This Easter, take your eggs one step further with different decorating techniques.  Step outside-the-box and create unique designs using acrylic paint, decoupage, glitter, chalkboard paint, markers, stickers, crayons, pencils, stencils, watercolors and Kool-Aid.  

Decorating eggs are easy and inexpensive to create.  You can get supplies from the supermarket, craft store or your pantry.

Here's a few of our favorites from across the web:

Domestifluff-sparkledotegg
Domestifluff
ED_angrybirdeggs
Angry Birds
HeyJenRenee-koolaideggs
Kool-Eggs (dyed with Kool-Aid
AndPuppyMakesThree-plaidegg
And Puppy Make Three
Claudine Gervais-chalkboard eggs

fotolia_103853445

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

Evite

Ideas for preparing your kid’s birthday

If your child is about to celebrate his or her birthday, a great way to celebrate their love for animals is to plan an animal-themed birthday party.  The bond between children and animals is somewhat difficult to explain. Children seem to react quite instinctively and positively to animals they are introduced to. No matter if those animals are parrots, dogs, cats or even some wild animals in the zoo, kids usually expose a high level of adoration and attraction to animals.  The following ideas are for kids from 3 to 6 years of age.

Fairy tale animals come true

Once you have decided that your child's birthday is going to be a thematic one and that the theme is going to be the animal world, it would be quite handy to engage some fairy tale characters into the whole story. That can be done by dressing up yourself and your spouse as Winnie the Pooh, Bagheera or Baloo from The Jungle Book, or some more up-to-date characters, such as Shrek or Donkey. In addition to that, you can make children dress up as fairy tale animal characters.

Plants and animals hand in hand

photo by Dave Swift

Dressing up as fictional characters can be quite a demanding task for your fellow parents and their children. Maybe it would be wise that you extend the range of fairy tale characters to plants, as well. While girls like to be princesses and boys most often pirates, they can find inspiration in fairy tales. They can also make up their own flower or plant that could be from a fairy tale. It is most probable that girls will be more into making a flower costume. To avoid social differences popping up, you can write on the invitation card that every costume is welcome. That way some kids whose parents cannot afford making a real costume can still dress up as a flower simply by wearing a flower girls' dress and making a flowery crown for the head.

A fairy-tale cake

What would a fairy-tale birthday be without a proper and genuine fairy-tale cake? If you are skillful and like making cakes yourself, there are many recipes for incredible cakes all over the Internet. For instance, some people have already made cakes inspired by the wonderful Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and many other fairy tale-like edifices. Apart from that, children at that age still love when you read them stories, so, why not making a cake in the shape of a fairy-tale book. If the party is the animal-themed one, the cake can also be an character from a fairy tale.

All the above mentioned steps related to the process of organizing your kid's birthday may not be easy, but it will be fun.  Create a budget and sort out your ideas to make the party a roaring success.  If your budget is substantial, you can just hire birthday party animators and professional organizers to prepare everything. Your ultimate goal is to make sure your child feel special and loved on their special day.

 

Written by Sophie Anderson

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.

Planning the Perfect Cocktail Party

When planning the perfect cocktail party, think about incorporating a theme. This will set the mood of the event without adding to your budget and it will aid you with ideas for food, drinks, and décor. Your theme can be discreet, such as a flavor, color or cocktail that is represented throughout the evening. I have created a few guidelines to make your next cocktail party experience easy and stress-free. We will cover everything you need to host a fabulous fête, including planning, selecting a menu, setting up the bar, and setting the scene.

The Planning

Cocktail party planning starts with sending invitations. They may be formal or informal, but what is important is that they convey proper information regarding the time and the place of the party.

Canapés with salami
Canapés with salami

The Menu
The traditional cocktail party fare is hors d'oeuvres—small, savory finger foods that can be eaten in one or two bites. Typically, hors d'oeuvres are served before a meal and are not meant to be a substitute for a meal, however, nowadays I find that it's common for hors d'oeuvres to wind up replacing meals, so if your party takes place during dinner hours, plan to serve enough food to constitute a meal. Since you will be making various types of hors d'oeuvres, you can serve high priced items such as caviar or smoked salmon and still have a little change left over.

You can experiment with a wide variety of food on your menu, since everyone will be eating only little tastes. If they don't like something, you can be confident that there will be plenty of other choices for them to find something they will enjoy. If you are not in the mood to prepare and cook, hiring a caterer or a personal chef will allow you to have fun with planning the theme, menu, drinks and decorations. The beauty of cocktail party food is that it can be a fun, eclectic selection of items. Prepare a cocktail menu and plan out how you will prepare everything ahead of time.

Serve a Signature cocktail
Serve a Signature cocktail

The Bar
Plan to serve wine and beer, as well as supplies for several kinds of cocktails. Have non-alcoholic alternatives on hand as well, and be sure you'll have enough ice. You can also create a Signature drink if you have a theme setting. For instance, a James Bond theme you could feature martinis, shaken not stirred!

Candlelight Ambience
Candlelight Ambience

The Scene
Choose which area of your home to use for your party well in advance, and set it up the day before the party so you have plenty of time to make last-minute changes. Arrange furniture so that guests can move throughout the room easily, clearing out extra furniture if necessary. Although most guests will be mingling, leave some furniture placed against the walls or in small clusters—there should be seating for 10 to 15 percent of your guests.

Set up drinks and hors d'oeuvres a good distance from each other or at opposite ends of the room, to cut down on traffic around them. Decorate with table linens, candles and simple floral arrangements. The complexity of the arrangements and quality of the linens should reflect the formality of the event. Lighting helps establish the mood of a party. Avoid unflattering overhead lights and instead use mood-enhancing candlelight. To get enough light, place candles in clusters. To jazz up your candles, wrap patterned paper around votive or candle holders and fastens with tape. If you don't want to use candles, stick to table and floor lamps.

Music helps your guests relax and gets them in the proper party mood. Choose tunes that match your theme or the atmosphere you want to create. The most hassle-free way to deal with music is to create a playlist for the party so the music is taken care of for the entire evening and you won't have to scramble to change CDs while trying to serve food. Have a few party games up your sleeve to break the ice and encourage your guests to mingle…and there you have it! The key to any great party is for the host to have as much fun as the guests.

Another martini or canapé anyone............?

Pier 1 Imports Tasting Party Collection with Michelle Karam

Professional Chef Michelle Karam of www.DishesByMichelle.com introduces the Pier 1 Imports Tasting Party Collection.

Presented by Pier 1 Imports. To learn more about the Pier 1 Imports Tasting Party Collection visit www.Pier1.com

Pier 1 Imports Tasting Party Collection with Michelle Karam