A few months ago, I was asked if we would sponsor a “fantasy” table for a Scholarship Dinner fundraiser at our golf club in the White Mountains. All monies raised are given to the staff and their families for educational purposes. It is a very nice event but I have never been asked to sponsor a table with a theme. Since the primary reason of this event is scholarship, learning, education, why not do a book themed tablescape, or better yet, Dinner in the Library? The table will be located indoors by the stone fireplace, so immediately I am thinking elegant, yet cozy book-focused theme.
I cannot take full credit for the design of this as I consult my dear friend, Chloe from Celebrate and Decorate for help and ideas. Chloe is a master at creating beautiful tables and having her as a sounding board boosts my confidence as a new participant to this event. This is quite a long post, but I am excited to share all the details.
Guests are invited weeks in advance because this is one event where you don’t want someone to cancel at the last minute. If someone does cancel, we get charged for the event anyway since this is a fundraiser.
I find these Bee Dictionary Art cards from Hester & Cook that become the invitation.
Since I do not do calligraphy, I print out the event details in Lucinda Calligraphy and then use Zots to attach the printed page to the inside of the card. Zots are clear adhesive dots that form an instant bond with paper and do not leave a bump or glue evidence.
I can use my own dishes, linens, china, crystal and flatware, or the club will provide those items. The table dimensions (as I am told) are 7 feet by 42 inches and will sit 8 guests. Since I cannot envision a commercial tablecloth, I find this beautiful weighty fabric at Boca Bargoons in Scottsdale. I add a decorative trim (from Fabric Depot) in order to make sure the drop is 8″ on all sides.
The Place Setting
If you have been following my blog for a while, you know how much I love these dishes. Harvest Windsor Ware by Johnson Bros. of England are a perfect match with the tablecloth. The brushed gold chargers give the place setting a glamour and brightness. Not shown in this photo, is a clear salad plate with a brushed gold rim by Leslie Roy.
The club provides the water and wine glasses and the flatware.
There are many examples of a book page runner on the internet. Instead of doing a willy nilly pattern, mine is very linear. Unfortunately I did not take any pictures while I was assembling this. Finding an old book at a goodwill store, I separate the pages and assemble them using a glue stick, 3 pages wide. Since the pages are old and a bit brittle, I assemble this onsite the day of the dinner.
Using a lace border punch, I edge both sides of the paper runner. Unfortunately the punch does not have a debris collector, so all those little bits of paper end up on the tablecloth and floor. Nothing a vacuum can’t handle but messy nonetheless. Here’s a link to several lace border punches.
When I think of a library, I envision library lamps casting a glow on a polished table. Knowing that I did not have access to any electrical outlets, I search for battery operated lamps that have that “library” look.
These lamps are a brushed gold and go PERFECTLY with my chargers. They are not inexpensive, but I cannot tell you how happy I am with the style and the 2 levels of brightness. These lamps create such a lovely ambiance and some height to the centerpiece. For the 7 foot table, I order 3 lamps. You can find them here in either gold or black at $59.99 each.
I am guilty of having too many book sets and boy, they did come in handy for this table! Since I will be transporting all the elements of this table up to mountains, I set up a prototype table in our dining room. This helps me lay everything out and determine what I need and where it will go on the table.
What is a centerpiece without flowers? My husband is instrumental in creating the “vase” for the three flower arrangements that will settle in between the book stacks. Taking old books from the local good will, he cuts out a center core from 3 stacked paperbacks. The hole is just large enough for me to put a small glass.
At some point in the future, I will write a more detailed post on how he achieved this.
Using floral foam, I cut a piece large enough to fit in the glass and soak it.
I mentioned on Saturday this gorgeous bouquet of roses I received from The Bouqs. Supplemented with peonies, spider mums, purple limonium and greens from Safeway, the bouquets come together.
For those of us old enough to remember library cards, I find a talented person on Etsy who creates these as custom place cards.
If you are looking for someone to make you a custom invitation, check out Jennifer from the Bird and the Beard. She is creative, very easy to work with, promptly responds to emails and I received these in record time. When a couple cancelled in less than 48 hours to the event, Jennifer shared the font and font size so I was able to recreate new ones for our new guests.
The place cards are affixed to small vintage books and are set next to the place setting.
Chloe makes amazing custom napkin rings using plastic shower curtain rings. After two attempts to find plastic shower curtain rings in triple digit heat, I give up and use inexpensive rattan ones. I wrap them in brown ribbon and then hot glue miniature books (dollhouse size) to the front.
Having a printed menu is just a nice touch, especially if you are trying to determine what is on your plate. Easy to make using a colored cardboard stock, decorative edged scissors and a grosgrain ribbon.
Challenges Setting Up
We are able to arrive the day of the event and set up our table. The good news is that our table is next to my dear friend, Kathy, who is an old hand at this. Her table is a Mahjong theme (she’s done this before!) and it is fun and colorful. Kathy knows the ropes and is very helpful during set-up.
First disappointment, is the table is NOT 7 feet by 42 inches, but 9 feet by 36 inches. Being 2 feet shorter, my tablecloth is too small! Oh great. Fortunately, the club manager comes to the rescue with two black tablecloths to cover the ends. Looks a bit odd, but what can I do at this point?
The fragile book pages runner needs lacing and I do it onsite. However, the air conditioner is nearby and keeps blowing the pages, which creates some tears in the brittle paper. Fortunately, most of the runner will be covered by other items.
Now I need to deal with the additional 2 feet in the table length, which leaves a few holes in my planned centerpiece. If I knew about the additional length, I would have purchased another lamp and made a 4th floral arrangement. So what to do? Fortunately I have extra books and lay open a few of them and curl up the pages.
The Finished Table
In spite of some of the obstacles, the table clearly portrays a Dinner in the Library theme. It is elegant, easy on the eyes and fun too. Our guests notice and appreciate all the little details. The meal is delicious and the event raises quite of bit of money for the wonderful and dedicated staff.
The lamps provide a nice glow of light to the table, as well as the small votive candles.
All in all, the table exceeds my expectations. As a thank you for joining us, each couple was given a bottle of our favorite 18 year old balsamic vinegar from Pinetop Olive Oil.
Our dinner guests are so fun and we hope to get the opportunity to do this again next year.
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This post shared with Fabulous Friday Link Party 6.24.22
Shared with Between Naps on the Porch 720th Tablescape Thursday