Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Table Design for Non-profit Fundraiser - Garden Style

Mission:  Create an elegant tablescape for a new non-profit's fundraising event with no money allocated for the decorations.

 A friend, who is a friend of the founding President, asked me recently to help coordinate a fundraising event for 100-150 people.  After learning about the cause, in spite of the fact that I was coming in at the 11th hour,  I was inspired to help.  

The real challenge was to create something inviting and yet elegant out of  the organization's given theme of  "Summer's Time"  and logo colors of pink, lime green and purple to display donated food and auction items without spending a fortune.   Many prayers and generous people willing to lend their items (white tablecloths, paintings, baskets, platters & accessories)  have helped make these elegant table arrangements  possible for hardly any cost.  

 I  start with the theme -  Summer's Time.  The theme evoked a feel of aliveness and warmth - abloom with colors, sweetness and freshness.  The company's colors of  pink, lime green and purple  set the tone -  that gave me the idea to create something like a summer garden party!

 Normally, I like to do a trial run to save time during set up. I visit the venue for room specifications, measure the tables , get the final count and size of the donated food items (after numerous phone calls), estimate close proximity of table size by laying out appropriate containers (saving space for vendors who want us to use their serving trays),  platters and decorative items (which requires visits to different stores for ideas)  that will best highlight the food and then, take pictures as a reminder.
I wanted the dessert and food tables to be inviting.  I didn't want to use just white tablecloths, so I highlighted the tables and chose pink as the main color and used lime green for embellishments.  Pink is normally used as a universal symbol of hope and awareness but also compassion and love which is apropos for this organization's purpose - providing after care services for abused young women.

As luck should have it, I have just enough  pink tablecloths (used several years ago for my niece's baby shower) to cover the dessert and food table.  Borrowed original paintings (from a friend and fellow coordinator) accentuating some of the theme colors combined with the greeneries and other accessories,  created a feel of an outdoor garden setting brought inside! 

The upside of using borrowed/recycled materials for any event is you hold the cost down low.  The challenge is to take these disparate items and blend them together into a cohesive design.  

As part of an appreciation to the food donors, individual placards, made especially by a committee member,  and business cards were added for guests to recognize and, hopefully, patronize the generous restaurants and bakeries. 

I like using solid white platters to make the donated desserts stand out.  However, since the founding president had this cute lime green cake platter, I used it to add a bit of color to stand out amongst the platters. 

Again,  I made pink the dominant color for the food table with a few touches of purple flowers, greeneries and flower paintings that will be spread around the food table (this will be a longer table since it has to accommodate 12 donated  large garden salad bowls, fruits and  appetizer platters) . 

To save more money, instead of using fresh flowers on the food table, I used silk flowers (from a dollar store) and filled tall vases with water.  I wanted to incorporate the water into the décor to represent something like a summer creek - inviting to watch.  Also, by adding the flowers it looks refreshing and cheery!

Since this is a light buffet luncheon the majority of the donated food are salads and fruits, white wicker  baskets (for utensils, paper plates, napkins and bread)  are used to symbolize the purity of the summer gathering of harvested flowers, fruits or vegetables - hence, mirroring the gathering of people to share and learn what this new company is about.

Based on the configuration of the room, the drink table has to be situated at  the same side as the food table.  So, I used white tablecloth on the utensils table to break the colors between the drinks table and the food table.  As a contrast to the food table, real fig leaves were used and spread around the drinks table to soften the pinkness of the tablecloth.
 Since Purple is the main color of the organization's logo,  I decided to use purple on the auction table and accentuate it with green and pink. 

Purple has influences on our emotions, our actions and how we respond to various people, things and ideas. What a perfect color for the auction table where so many donated items to choose from!  The idea is to entice guests to keep coming back.  

Again, it was fortunate to have these purple and green flower curtains (which I acquired from a friend) to complete the scheme colors.
 To highlight  the  bottom purple tablecloth and break the monotony of the white walls and the white tablecloth,  the auction sheets  and most of the auction items were accessorized  in different shades of purple, green and pink.

 To bring about the feel of a refreshing garden and add color to the white tablecloth, I used real fig leaves, from one of the committee member's tree, and spread them around the table.
These beautiful pens came in a plain box and were transformed by a simple addition of green fillers, ribbons and silk flowers. (See "How to Highlight Auction Table"  Items)

                                                        PODIUM AREA
To extend the garden feel of the room to the podium area, I mixed houseplant greens to accentuate the green part of my silk plant and covered the bottom vases with the borrowed purple cloth (which blended well with the carpet). Thus, saving us the expense of acquiring live bouquet flowers.

For a bit of originality, instead of boxes for the raffled tickets, I borrowed these ice cream recycled tubs from one of the committee members.

One of the raffled baskets we called  based on the theme "Summer's Time" because it's filled with everything that is summer: sun hat, sun tan lotion, beach towels, flip flops, book, ice cream creamery gift certificate, popcorn, sunglasses, cooler bag, summer cups, etc.

These tablescapes once again show how everyday simple items can help keep costs down while adding a touch of elegance to the room.  I was so glad to be a part of this event and met new friends in the process. 

 Mission accomplished!

See also: How to Highlight Auction Tables

Shopper's Corner:
Dollar Store - black frames, canvas flowers, silk flowers inside water vases
Beverly's - green mesh

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