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

DIY: Witch Hat Cupcake Stand

Party With Style

Add a bit of whimsy to your Halloween tabletop design with a Witch Hat cupcake holder.

This project is stylish and easy as ONE-BOO-THREE!

SUPPLIES:

2016-10-05-11-45-40

  • Paper Mache Witch Hat
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge Brush
  • Glitter
  • Paper Plates or Foil Pans

 

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cover work surface with paper or use a foil pan or paper plate.
  2. Use sponge brush to apply glue to hat.
  3. Cover paper mache hat completely with glue.
  4. Sprinkle glitter over hat.
  5. Let dry a little and repeat until you get desired look.
  6. Place mini-cupcakes on brim of hat and display.

Entertaining with Style: 4th of July

Red, White & Ooooo!

Row of patriotic cupcakes with sprinkles and American flagsThe 4th of July is one of my favorite summer celebrations and it's easy to design. You already know color scheme, all you have to do is add a lotta style!.  And there is no such thing as over-kill!   It's all about love and freedom! 

We surfed the internet and found a few tabletop designs we thought represented Independence Day with style!  Check out a few of our internet favorites:

Place Setting by Party Elements
Place Setting by Party Elements

 

Hostess With The Mostess
Hostess With The Mostess

 

Anders Ruff
Anders Ruff

 

Between Naps On The Porch
Between Naps On The Porch

 

Party City
Party City

 

Kara's Party Ideas
Kara's Party Ideas

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.

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............?