Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia invited attendees to participate in a guest blogger series dedicated to all their favorite topics related to DEB. Our fourth blogger, is Marie Fritz. Marie participated in Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia last year as a table leader, and will be leading a group again this year. Her beautiful table setting at the Preview Party captured the essence and spirit of Iconic Philadelphia. In this blog post, Marie will talk about all the details that go into table decorating!
Finally! The summer of 2014 is in full swing and everyone is filling up their calendars with the events of summer – picnics, reunions, vacations…and THE event of them all –Dîner en Blanc! Now that it’s July and the registration process is commencing, we all need to think about our white attire and more importantly, our tables!
Setting the perfect DEB table can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish – and for the past two years, we’ve seen it all! From tables covered in lights and flowers to tables simply adorned with some candles and dishes, how you choose to create your table will set the tone of your evening with your dining partner. Here, I’d like to focus on the basics and the resources to achieve a great table!
First – the rules! Yes, we do have some standards that we all must follow. They are:
* Your table must be 28″ tall and no wider than 32″. Table should be folding or roll-up. No round tables!
* Your table must be covered with a white tablecloth or covering.
* Two white chairs
* Picnic basket and essentials – all non- disposable. Dishes must be white.
Now to the resources. As you plan your table, remember that you have to carry all of your gear – first to your designated meeting place, then to the venue. You may or may not be taking public transportation, so be kind to yourself and take only what you are able to carry! I have found that heavy card tables, massive floral arrangements, and lots of stuff are not conducive to maneuvering on Septa. Or walking up and down stairs. Here are some hints on lightweight gear:
Tables – the best table for moving around would be a fold-up or roll top camptable that fits in a bag. It’s very lightweight and you can strap it to a wheeled cart with your chairs, or sling it over your shoulder. Look for something sturdy and comfortable. I use the Alps Mountaineering 31″ camping table that I found on Amazon.com. This one is a bit pricey – $63.99; however, this is my 3rd DEB so it has already been worth every penny. There are some cheaper models, as well. Last year Aldi’s sold a great table for $19.99. They sold out very quickly, so keep your eyes peeled! You can also try eBay, LL Bean, Cabela’s or any sporting goods store. Don’t forget to try Big Lots, Costco, Sam’s or BJ’s!
Chairs – I use the white Ikea Nisse folding chairs, which sell for $24.99 each. They are very comfortable and sturdy. Ikea also sells a wooden chair called Terje for $17.99 that is very lightweight and does the job. You can also get white folding chairs at places such as Target, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, biz chair.com and office supply stores.
Linens – white linens are a must! You can find white tablecloths and napkins almost anywhere, but my favorites are hotel linens – plain, very white and affordable. You can get basic linens at your supermarket in the general merchandise section. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney, Williams Sonoma, K-Mart – all sell basic white linens. I like to get fancy and I will add a table topper or overlay, on top of my tablecloth, which can enhance your table or help keep your wine glasses upright, as the ridges of a roll top can make things wobbly even with a tablecloth. I like to use sparkly covers, which add glam without a lot of extra fuss. I troll Amazon.com and e-Bay, as well as thrift stores and vintage shops. Specialty boutiques are great too. I have also used white throws and blankets as tablecloths – as long as it doesn’t look like you tossed a blanket on the table straight from your bed!Candles, lanterns, and a great floral arrangement always add something special to your table. Candles should be white, of course! As for florals, I’ve seen simple Mason jars with flowers and huge jaw-dropping arrangements, so create according to your taste and what you can realistically carry! White florals tie in with the theme, but other colors are fine, too. A word about candles – depending on the location, it can be a breezy night and your candles will not stay lit. Battery powered candles or lanterns seem to work best if you prefer candlelight dining. I must have lit my candles 30 times before I gave up! Thankfully, the street lamps allowed me to see what I was eating!
Utensils – don’t forget your eating utensils! Unless you’re eating finger food, having the right tools makes your life cleaner and easier. Your utensils don’t have to be white. Bring flatware, cutting boards and serveware according to your needs, including storage containers for any leftovers.
Picnic Basket – many people use a wicker picnic basket. It does not have to be white, but I’ve seen some creative use of white spray paint in keeping with the theme! Rolling thermal picnic containers are great because they collapse for easy storage under your table and keep your meal at a safe temperature.
Other essentials – the use of a rolling cart is a must if you need assistance with your table and chairs. I use the Magna-Cart hand truck, which you can find on-line or at Wal-Mart for $24.88. It is a life saver for walking long distances or traveling through the subway. Strap on your chairs and table with bungee cords or ratchet straps, found at any hardware store like Lowes, Home Depot, Wal-Mart or even your grocery store. Don’t forget your umbrella! DEB is rain or shine, so having a white or clear umbrella is essential. Check Amazon.com or even wedding outlets online for a choice of white umbrellas. The Container Store is another great place for carts, picnic supplies and containers to haul it all. One of my favorite places for DEB paraphernalia is Ikea. They have wonderful white vases, lanterns, candlesticks, dishes, wine and/or champagne glasses and a myriad of other cool stuff to dress up your space. Plus, it’s affordable! A word of caution – as DEB gets closer, stores will sell out of all things white! Take the time to plan ahead so you won’t be disappointed!
Check out my sample table setting:
Don’t forget – you’re only limited by your imagination! No matter if you become a Francophile for a day or do it Philly-style, your table will be a great reflection of you! Lots of photographs will be taken and there is a table decorating contest, so knock it out of the park! If you have questions or need more help with resources, please check out Philadelphia.dinerenblanc.info, the DEB Facebook page or Twitter. More inspiration photos can also be seen on her Pinterest board! See you at DEB!