Sunday was a week ago marked Miss Manners' largest undertaking to date - A Very Merry Un-Birthday Party for the ladies in our congregation who are age 75 or over. It was a big deal, not only because there were over 40 people in attendance, but because we hosted it at church. True - this meant none of the last minute cleaning and prep work at our own homes, but it did mean packing, transporting and unloading all our decorations and supplies before we could even begin to set up for the party - which happened to take place a mere three hours after our morning services were over! Add to that the fact that we had to clean up and get everything out before church Sunday night, and it was quite a busy afternoon.
Today I'm going to share with you the preparation and setup for the party. Later this week, I'll show you what happened once the party began!
Our end of the year party last year was a kitchen shower for our church. We had the girls come early one Wednesday night before church and we cleaned out and organized the church's kitchen and made a "registry" of what was needed. The girls then planned, decorated and hosted a shower where the ladies of the congregation attended and helped to re-stock the kitchen. It was a lot of fun and a great success. You can read about that here.
We began planning for this party by contacting the church office to find out who qualified for invitations. Ages were not listed for each and every member, and we wanted to make sure that no one was left out, so we ran an advertisement in the church bulletin about the party and requested those ladies 75 and older who would be interested in attending to contact us. We also knew due to the potential size of the party that we needed to host it at church. Nancy and I brainstormed one afternoon and came up with the eclectic theme of "A Very Merry Un-Birthday Party". This allowed us to mix and match our decorations and have a fun birthday theme, versus a more formal tea party.
Here's a close up of the invitation. As you can see, we used the "Un-Birthday Song" from Disney's classic movie, Alice in Wonderland, as a springboard for the invitation, decorations, and more, as you'll soon see!
A little over half of our twenty-six Miss Manners girls were able to attend and help with set up and hosting. We had them meet us in the fellowship hall after morning services where we had a quick meal of pizza, chips and cookies.
Here they are saying a prayer before lunch. We had girls as young as 1st grade (Little Miss Manners) and several 6th graders (Miss Manners) along with everything in between. This was the last party for those in 6th grade, as they have aged out of the group now. I would love to have them continue in the program, but with twenty-six girls, and adding new girls each year, we just can't handle the number.
After lunch, we began to set the tables. We chose to use several eight foot tables, which we arranged in a horse-shoe shape. (We had a few daddies stay and help us set up the tables and chairs immediately after worship.) Nancy, my mother and I pulled out all of our white and pastel tablecloths and cloth napkins. We used the white cloths as a base and then layered a few pastel ones for color and dimension. Remember - this was a very eclectic tablescape.
Here you can see the splashes of pink on the white base tablecloths, as we begin setting up.
Here's a wider view. Once Nancy and Julia, one of the moms who stayed to help us, had the tablecloths in place, we got the girls to help us set and decorate the table. We put them to work in teams, each team completing a different task, like putting out plates, folding napkins, adding cups and silverware, etc.
Nancy collects old and unusual clocks, as well as large vintage-styled keys. These fit perfectly with our theme. You'll see them scattered throughout the tablescape.
Here's my daughter, Jewell, and Nancy's husband, Dennis, fluffing some tissue-paper flowers that Jewell and I made a while back for a Miss Manners Pancakes and Pajamas Party where we talked about sleepover etiquette. Besides these two parties, the pretty pastel paper flowers have also been used by a friend for a baby shower she hosted. I store them in a trash bag in my guest bedroom closet. They just need a little fluffing and they're good to go! I have already stored them to use again one day. They weren't expensive, or difficult, but they did take some time to make, so why throw them out?
I'm surprised these two were able to get anything done for all their silliness!
The tissue paper flowers were scattered down the tables, along with Chinese paper lanterns that Nancy had purchased for past parties. These are less than a dollar each at stores like Michael's and Dollar Tree. She carefully disassembles them (removes the wire boning and flattens the lanterns) and stores them in a large gift bag. You can also see another clock face without hands in the picture above.
Pretty cake plates were scattered down the tables and filled with enough food to serve three or four people. The party guests served themselves, tea-style. Nancy printed cute "Eat Me" labels which were attached with ribbon to each cake plate. We had a simple menu of strawberries, cheese, sausage balls, nuts and cupcakes, served with lemonade. The girls were each assigned something to bring like a jar of nuts or a bag of cheese, etc.
The young ladies were very eager to help, and with thirteen present, it was a job in itself to find tasks for each one to do, but they did whatever we asked of them, and when they weren't working, they enjoyed their time to play and laugh together.
Since the table was set in layers, we had the older girls constantly going behind to make sure that each place setting was complete.
Here you can see some of the girls preparing the punch cups with "Drink Me" tags.
Teapots were scattered along the table as well.
Even though we didn't serve tea, it added to the tea party feel.
Here's a closeup look at the individual table settings. We used glass plates that Nancy has been buying from Dollar Tree. I think she has about three dozen now, so we supplemented with a few of my glass plates that my aunt gave me. She, too, had been collecting them over the years and found most of hers at yard sales. The pretty cut glass plate would be perfect on any well-dressed table, and at $1 each, you can afford to add these to your collection.
Here's a quick tip for storing special dishes that perhaps you don't use all that often. After washing them, Nancy divides them into sets of 6 and 12 and wraps them in plastic wrap before storing them away. This keeps them clean and dust free and ready to go when you need them - no re-washing required! She also does this with glass pitchers. She learned this from Mrs. Alice Moore, the former cafeteria director at Faulkner. I have started doing this with my special plates as well after I use them. Since I have things stashed all over my house, it really helps to keep them together and clean.
We used glass punch cups for the lemonade. There were probably four different patterns of punch cups sprinkled down the the table. Each cup had a "Drink Me" tag tied to it. (Remember Alice in Wonderland?)
Nancy has a large collection of pretty stainless forks, so we decided to use them as well. Under the forks were various colors of pastel cloth napkins. Over 20 years ago, a local Pepperrel Mills store went out of business and my mother picked up literally dozens of pretty napkins for next to nothing. Pink, peach, blue, green and yellow napkins dotted the table adding splashes of color.
Baby food jars with a pair of grocery store blooms added color and softness to the setting.
A cupcake was pre-placed on each plate, as well as a cupcake refrigerator magnet that I made which served as a party favor for each guest. The guests also took home their flowers and jar.
Another picture of the girls working together to set the table.
Nancy used the larger Chinese lanterns to decorate the entrance from the foyer into the Fireplace Room where we held the party.
A small table and topiary that belong to the church was used in front of the door leading to the party. Signage made by Nancy as well as copies of Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass give the party goers an idea of what's to come!
A view of the decorations at the head table. Who sat at the head table, you ask? Well, you'll just have to check back in later this week to see! But I promise, you won't want to miss this reveal!
Here's the pretty clock again that I showed you at the beginning. It added some height and its darker color was a nice break from all the pastel.
Here you can see that an elegant tea pot and a more casual cake plate can play nicely together when you have an eclectic, whimsical theme!
Large silk Gerbera daisies temporarily removed from their stems (they pop on and off easily) are a pretty accent to a white cake plate, decorated with pastel ribbon.
Mama, Nancy, and I scoured our homes for anything pastel or having to do with tea parties, and if you ask me, it all worked beautifully together! I am proud to report that aside from the flowers, we didn't buy anything for this party! The girls brought the party food and we spent less that $20 for the fresh flowers. We just bought whatever Publix had that day in their floral shop.
The table decorations were sweet and very feminine and gave you lots to look at during the party. Nancy and I were amazed at how well it all came together!
I hope you've enjoyed seeing how we planned and set up for this party. Later this week, I'll introduce you to our special celebrity guests, as well as show you the fun that was had by all! See you soon!
I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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