Smoke & Mirrors – Sensational at 70

My remarkable friend, Marchita, recently celebrated becoming an official septuagenarian in high spirits and high style. I was asked to create the ambience for the 160-guest celebration. So even with flooding rains plaguing the city (hence the substandard photo quality despite my best editing efforts), my husband and I made every second count of the allotted 2-hour setup time to create a space that represented Marchita: simply, sweetly, sensationally elegant at 70.

This recent 4-minute appearance on KCTV-5’s “Better Kansas City” show summed up my thinking on how to approach the decor without using flowers.

 

My inspiration for the overall room plan was quite unexpectedly stirred by the venue’s house decorator. This luxurious ceiling treatment was going to already be in place for a wedding reception…so I just rolled with that and chose white silk, reflective silver, mirrors, candlelight, and bling for the tables to complement it.

 

 

 

This is the woman of the hour, the sensational Marchita Stanton, standing at the table I created especially for her. I started with a black full-length pinched pinwheel taffeta tablecloth, an upgrade from the venue’s lap-length poly cloths used for the guest tables. A silver 5-arm candelabra to which I added crystal bobeches for extra sparkle graced the center. (These same candelabra were used for “Blue & White Family Picnic” and “Hollywood Fright Night“.)

 

 

 

Satellite lighting included lots of votives and candle lamps created using silver Revere candlesticks topped with white silk shades. (I used a similar technique for the post “Should Have Put A Ring On It“.) I used the same bobeches on the lamps as on the candelabra.

 

I created signs like this for areas throughout the venue. The frames are laden with pearlescent gemstones and rhinestones. (I used these same frames for seating cards in the posts “Fete Noir et Gris“, “Purple & Pastel“, and “Bling Wedding“.)

 

I slipped the chairs at the guest of honor’s table into black Spandex chair covers and added a black sash to which a rhinestone cuff was affixed.

 

 

 

Centerpieces for the guest tables were more subdued than the head table with a single lamp and a few votives. While the lamps complemented the overhead decor and head table, they did not serve to compete. I opted to use the venue’s mirrors to double back the light.

 

 

Marchita requested a special table for the children next to her own table. I wanted it to be special and fun but still work with the rest of the decor. I ordered up a balloon bouquet in black, white and platinum (after all, platinum is the color for celebrating 70 years!) and omitted candles. Marchita put together fun gift/activity bags to be placed in each child’s chair.

 

A quick peek at other details I set up around the venue includes the table in the vestibule for guests to self-check their umbrellas. I admit it could have been nicer, but I didn’t think about it until a few hours before setup when I realized the rain was NOT going to back down. At any rate, it helped avoid confusion after the event as so many umbrellas look alike.

 

 

As guests stepped inside the party room they were greeted by a table reminding them to treat themselves! I dressed the table in a white pinched pinwheel linen and, like the head table, added a silver candelabra. A few scattered LED votives further illuminated the table.

 

I expected a significant amount of cards, so I opted for a silver punch bowl (also used in “Kentucky Derby Buffet” for Mint Julep Punch) to collect them on the gift table.

 

 

 

I forgot the silver trays for the ladies and mens room pampering stations!!! Ugh!!! Oh, well…several guests remarked how appreciative they were to have things like breath mints, floss sticks, and hair spray at their disposal. Notice how the men got FAR less!!! But those shoe mitts came in handy after coming in out of the driving rain.

A few other birthday celebration posts on this site include:
88 Years & 88 Keys
Pretty In Pink
Blue & White 30th Birthday
Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous!
Purple & Pastel
Grazin’ In the Grass
Princess Pink Birthday Dinner
Happy Birthday, Barf!
Black, White & Red All Over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue & White Family Picnic

What better to do on a warm August evening than gather with friends and family for an old-fashioned, fun picnic…with an elegant twist?  

Grandpa Ramon entertains the little ones while Grandma Alycia rushes to finalize details.

 

When the weather is warm, cool colors for the outdoor tablescape are definitely in order! A classic blue & white checkered tablecloth anchors the setting and renders a true “picnic” feel.

 After a few family photos are taken…
…the food is set out, the champagne expertly poured, and it’s time for everyone to sit down, relax, and enjoy!
 Reflective silver chargers, icy clear dishes & stemware (Bed Bath & Beyond), and faux mother of pearl flatware (Target) were perfect for the occasion. White pillar candles, which bring one of three levels of candlelight, are protected from the breeze with standard clear glass hurricanes.
 Silver candelabra brimming with luscious grapes are outfitted with white candles to be lit after the sun leaves the sky. (Table linen and chairs from All Seasons Tent & Party Rental.)
 Silver julep cups are filled with pure white and citrus green carnations along with hosta leaves from the garden. (They were later transferred to faux silver juleps for the guests to take home.) Notice the votive candles in addition to the pillars under the hurricane shades and candelabra. I like the look offered by multiple levels and sources of candlelight that make any tablescape dance!
 Sweet bing cherries and plump, ripe blueberries are set out in beautiful white ceramic vessels from Hobby Lobby for guests to munch on before and after dinner. I love this white jardiniere…wish I had more!
 The dessert table is dressed up with a larger version of the carnation & hosta arrangements on the dining table.
 I like to think of new ways to present old favorites. On this day fresh strawberry lemonade was served from a clear glass apothecary jar (available at Target or Function Junction). A custom engraved silver tag strung with ribbon identifies the contents. (I had several of these tags made up for various beverage and candy displays.)
 
 Guests all dressed in blue & white raise a glass! To family!!!

Happy Mother’s Day, Senator Mom (Ret.)

As some of you may know, my Mom recently retired from the Missouri Senate. After serving five years in the Missouri House of Representatives, she was elected to the Senate in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. She served her district well, but decided late last year to step away from her career to spend more time with my Dad – her husband of 59 years – and our family.

Mom’s retirement was marked with a number of special events and honors, not to mention extensive media coverage. One “big ta-do” in her honor was held on March 25 at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center & State Museum in Kansas City, Mo. I was delighted to add the decorative flourishes to the event in celebration of her long and distinguished service to the Kansas City community and her birthday as she turned a tender 82. (She’s still so young…I don’t think this whole “retirement” thing will last but a hot second! 🙂 )

So, my dear blogger friends, if you will indulge me…as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I’d like to share with you a few photos from Mom’s retirement party.
Congratulations, Senator Mom!

A celebration in honor of Senator Yvonne S. Wilson.

Despite not feeling well at all (101 temp!), this is me clowning around in comfy Mary Janes and anklet socks. 🙂 I reluctantly changed into snazzy heels as guests began to arrive.

I wanted to have a single focal point in the room that would be visible from the entryway. Two of my cousins helped me get up on the buffet table to build this 8-ft. tall floral arrangement before the caterer arrived to add this fabulous food display. As the room grew darker, the hanging votives (LEDs for safety!) throughout the arrangement made a stunning statement.

Assorted bright green butterflies fluttered among the profusion of willow branches, eriostemon and dendrobium orchids.

I created arrangements in faux silver julep cups for the guest tables, surrounded by a trio of votives. (We went with faux silver cups so the volunteer hostesses could take them home later as a token of appreciation.) Smaller similar arrangements were created for the two guest book tables. I love these vintage-looking pink roses with the curly green edges!!! Sprigs of seeded eucalyptus and hypericum berries complete the look.

Our sweet friend, Patrick Snuffer, created the beautiful cakes for the event. Not only does he make deliciously moist cakes, but he is also an accomplished floral designer. The fresh rose and orchid arrangements on the five cakes are his designs.

I iced down bottles of sparkling wine for the toast in two of these oversized silver pedestal bowls. Adding a few orchid blooms to the mix makes it look extra special.

My sister who loves to do crafty projects came up with the idea to have guests sign pieces of photo fabric (something I never heard of!) that she will use to make a commemorative quilt.

Almost showtime! The Three Amigas check the list one last time. L to R: My cousin Virginia Dee Evans who worked patiently and tirelessly to coordinate the event, friend Karen Boyd who selflessly pitched in to help in any and every area possible, and me.

Local celebrity, “Tall” Paul Alexander surprised my Mom when he showed up to greet arriving guests. Tall Paul – a former member of the Harlem Globetrotters – is a doorman who has greeted everyone from presidents to movie stars to rock legends, has been a fixture at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City for 37 years. In the background is famed jazz musician Luqman Hamza (jazz enthusiasts may remember his 1950s hit “When You Surrender”) who wowed guests with his musical stylings throughout the evening. That handsome young fellow on the other side of my Mom is my Daddy, Jim.

Patrick created a beautiful corsage or orchids and seeded eucalyptus for my Mom.

For the piano, I created a compact arrangement of pink and green roses that sat atop one of my 31″H silver candelabra.

Family photo time! L to R: Nicole Wankel (nephew’s longtime girlfriend), nephew Justin Chamberlain-Dupree, Daddy Jim Wilson, Mom, niece Yvonne Chamberlain, Mom’s senatorial successor Kiki Curls, sister Berishia Wilson-Chamberlain, and me.

My feet are killing me and I am so sick I’m pretty sure I’m going to barf at any moment, but that perpetual public smile is still plastered on my face! My parents taught me well! 🙂

Missouri Governor Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon was among the 300+ guests who showed up to wish Mom well in her retirement and sign the commemorative quilt.

Newly elected Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James toasts my Mom. (Mayor James hails from both my high school and college alma maters!)

Once a politician, always a politician :-)…and always a gracious one! Mom thanks the crowd for their years of support. Not too shabby lookin’ for 82 years young!

The fun “thank you for your support” fortune cookie favor was another of my sister’s creations!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!!!

All photos by Sheri L. Grant

Hollywood Fright Night

Who says just because you’ve passed on to “the other side” that you can’t dine in luxury?

Join these legendary ladies of Hollywood’s most spine-tingling, edge-of-your-seat, wet-your-pants movies for a ghoulish yet stylish midnight supper. They’re just dying to have you for dinner…literally!!! Among the once shining stars on the guest list: Carrie White (Carrie, 1976), Regan Macneil (The Exorcist, 1973), Annie Wilkes (Misery, 1990), Kayako Saeki (The Grudge, 2004; The Grudge II, 2006 and The Grudge III, 2009), Baby Jane Hudson and Blanche Hudson (Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, 1962), Peyton Flanders (The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, 1992), Norma Desmond (Sunset Boulevard, 1950), and the elusive Mrs. Bates (Psycho, 1960).

No graveyard soiree for these former stars of stage and screen!

 

Because mystery men from their Hollywood heydays have fresh flowers delivered to their graves each week, there are plenty to decorate the table. Because I learned my lesson from the fiery centerpiece disaster on a windy night last month AND because the ladies get enough real fire in hell (we assume that’s where all these dastardly divas are spending eternity!), I used LED candles all around.

 

 

For each special lady, a black napkin folded into the shape of a clutch bag with a carnation embellishment. Of course, nothing but silver and our best crystal will do!

 

Creepy crawly friends check out the table arrangements.

 

Two gnarled branches of a manzanita tree grace the center of the table with gleaming silver candlesticks, cut crystal votive holders, and an array of cut crystal vases filled with pink carnations and roses.

 

Oh, no! There’s a big bloodsucking bat coming toward you and a snake in the branches!!! A couple of the ladies must have brought their agents along!

 

Ooooh! And there’s a sneaky spider. Another lady must have brought her publicist! The mouse is surely her long-suffering but faithful assistant!

 

 

Carrie is present in the form of a skull, still wearing her prized prom queen tiara. The bloody “brains & spinal tissue” oozing from her neck is fashioned from fresh red cockscomb (celosia argentea, also often referred to as Brain Celosia.)

 

Hey!  How did this guy from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” crash the party???

 

The view from Carrie’s seat of all the candles in pitch darkness.

 

 

The view looking up from hell. 🙂 See the eerie full moon above?

Other creepy tablescapes on this site:
Serpents & Skullduggery
Ravenous Raven Graveyard Feast