Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Life's a Journey" Tablescapes

I was recently asked to decorate for a luncheon at Faulkner University. "Friends for Faulkner" is a volunteer auxiliary organization at the university which undertakes special projects each year to help pay for student scholarships and un-budgeted projects. I was honored to serve as president when I was employed at Faulkner a number of years ago. 

Each year, one of our "sister" universities will host a summer conference for these groups from around the county, and this year it was our turn. FFF (Friends for Faulkner) chose "Life's a Journey" for the theme for this year's conference. 

My mother helped me pull everything together and actually set up the tablescapes. It's always fun to work with her on a project. Espcially when I'm the boss!

We have a number of beautiful buildings on campus (built during my father's administration, I'm proud to say!), but the Bible Building (home of the V.P. Black College of Biblical Studies) is probably my favorite. Big, bright and airy, it has a beautiful atrium foyer that is perfect for receptions and gatherings. This was the setting for the luncheon. 

Six tables were set for dining and tables for the buffet meal and beverages were also prepared before I arrived.

I began my planning by making a run downtown to the Montgomery Visitors' Center and picked up a number of Alabama maps and brochures for tourist attractions from around the state.

I unfolded the maps and "tore out" the state allowing a border around the edges. I discarded the scraps and used the map as a base for my decorations. Cost - $0!

Six dining tables plus two buffet and beverage tables are a lot to decorate! I wanted them to be similar, but I also wanted them to be interesting on their own. I went through my own home then borrowed from my mother and sister-in-law to complete the tablescapes.

I began by using a tray on each table to hold all my items of interest. Most trays were wood, but there were also some made of metal or woven materials. Then we filled the trays with various items from around the world.

"Life is a Journey" was our theme, so in addition to the state map of Alabama, each tray featured a globe. The carved wooden birds are from one of Daddy's missionary trips to Nigeria during the 1960's. 

Enjoying local cuisine is an important part of traveling, and since this was a luncheon, I included cookbooks on each table's tray. I already owned several with international themes. Brack loves dining in Teppanyaki restaurants, so much so, he bought me a Japanese cookbook for my last birthday! You can see it above. While at Dollar Tree, I found a few more cookbooks that I picked up and used.

I bought these simple black frames at Dollar Tree and filled them with sayings about travel. The little Japanese enamel vase was a gift to my mother from Sister Hudson, a Japanese friend at church.

One of my favorites - in honor of Gerald and Jewell, my Tolkien junkies. The "Aladdin's lamp" is from Morocco (in Epcot!).

I once read where every room should contain a touch of black. These black frames were very classic and served as another way to tie the different tables together.

Most of the items I used are souvenirs, ether gathered on our own travels or brought home to us by friends. This owl is probably the only exception. I found him for $1 at a thrift store! I just thought he was pretty and worked well with everything else on the table.

I had a limited budget, so I tried to "shop" either my home or my parents' for everything I used, but I did buy fresh flowers. I spent around $10 and got these pretty Alstroemeria flowers. I used three stems per vase (those are my mocha frappe bottles!). These pretty flowers come in a number of colors, and last forever! They also have a lot of built-in greenery, which really bulks up the appearance of the flowers. I took these home and changed the water every couple of days. They lasted about 10 days!

Above you can see one of my $1 cookbooks from Dollar Tree. These have already made it into my pile of bedside reading. Who knows when you might need a good Austrian recipe? 

These precious little be-jeweled elephants were a present from our dear friends, the Khadangas, after one of their trips home to India.

Each table had a pretty white and gold votive candle holder with a Moroccan print on the inside. They came from Dollar Tree. 

The cookbook under the carved birds is called "Around the World in 80 Bites" and is a tapas cookbook. This one has a lot of fun ideas!

The mini teapot can be used to serve soy sauce and is another gift from Sister Hudson. The engraved gold covered bowl is from Israel. My greatgrandmother brought it back to my mother in the 1960's from her trip to the Holy Lands. 

The furry little moose came from a trip my parents made to Saskatchewan, Canada. The black obelisk is a nod to the Eiffel Tower. It's usually found on top of a bookshelf in my home office. It came from Kirklands years ago. The pretty globe was on loan from a friend.

Another travel quote rests atop Julia Child's classic French cookbook and one from Central Italy, both from my collection.

The arrows were a gift from one of Gerald's co-workers. For years he has worked with African tribes to help them build souvenir businesses. He imports many of their products for sale in the US, as well. He also gave us the Chinese terracotta soldier.

Over the years, we have had scores of international exchange students at Faulkner. Many of them present my parents with gifts, such as the Chinese coin purses above.

The tiny candle holder above was also brought back by my greatgrandmother from Israel.

I scattered vases of flowers along the back of the buffet table.

More travel quotes. Above you can see the back of a carved owl I found at a yard sale years ago. I have a thing for owls!

This quote is a little less serious than the rest!

More Japanese pretties from Sister Hudson and another Chinese coin purse. The gold and white plate in the middle was a gift to my parents from Bro. Leonard Johnson (one of the founders of Montgomery Bible School  - now Faulkner University) after one of his mission trips to Scotland.

Although the ladies from Faulkner's group provided the food, I provided many of the vessels. Over in the left corner, you can see that I used my Arthur Court serving dishes for the buffet. I also used a few more state maps on the table.

Above is one of my favorite eBay finds ever. It is a light-up topographical globe from the early 1960's. It's not accurate anymore - many places have changed names since it was made, but it's beautiful. It sits in our home office, and I love to use it like a night light. I placed it on the buffet table and plugged it in.

These wooden busts came from Daddy's trip to Africa. The vase in the top right was a gift from a Korean student. 

The wider shot shows a little more of the table settings. I made the little passport notebooks and pens and placed one at each place setting.

Here's a close up of the notebooks and pens. Tomorrow I'll show you how I made these.

Here's a wider view taken from the middle of the room.

If you look closely then you can see that I placed stacks of brochures from state tourist attractions between the place settings. It gave the ladies something to look at and discuss during lunch.

I spent about $50 for everything. I used clear plastic glasses for the beverages (my biggest expense at about $10 for 40 from Party City). I found black plastic plates and flatware at Dollar Tree. It went well with the black picture frames, also from Dollar Tree, and the black accents contrasted nicely with the white cloths and lightly colored maps and brochures. The pretty gold votive holders came from Dollar Tree, as did the extra cook books I found. Flowers for about $10 rounded out my purchases. Not bad for a total of eight tables!


One last look...

I really enjoyed pulling these tablesettings together. There was a lot to look at on each table and the eclectic items created an interesting and well-traveled feel for the luncheon.

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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  1. wow - you certainly paid attention to every detail! Love all of the little framed quotes and especially the globes!! Well done!

    1. Thanks Patti! It was a lot of fun. One of my favorites so far!

  2. These themed tables are amazing. I'm sure all the guests loved them.

    1. Thanks Peggy! I had a lot of nice comments. It was a lot of fun to do, especially since my mama helped me!