Our church held a women's brunch on Saturday and I was asked to help with the decorating. This is sort of my dream invitation. Give me a venue/event and I'm there with bells on. As with most decorating, it's the challenge of producing something lovely within the existing limitations that turns something ordinary into something special. Anyone can produce something amazing with unlimited resources. (I certainly could - though am obviously still waiting for that dream client..). So instead, it's in doing something awesome with very little that is where the most fun can be.
Number of women? Aim for 40-60.
Theme: Seasons (from Ecclesiastes, hence seasons of life, rather than weather patterns - otherwise, just a snazzy morning tea..)
Budget? Not really..
So it wasn't going to be a big production. With just $50 for fresh flowers/and some fabric, the challenge factor was high. My friend Kat offered to go the flower markets on the Friday morning, no small feat with a baby and toddler accompanying her. I meanwhile, headed for the fabric store.
I knew what I wanted. Something bright and sophisticated, perhaps with a "high tea" theme. I figured if the fabric roll was around 1.2 mtrs wide, that would give me around 50-60 cm lengths to act as table runners, over the centre width of each table. Hence, with good white table cloths as a base, the coloured fabric would jazz it up.
There was a whole rack of quilting fabric on special the day I ventured to Spotlight. Another lady, accompanied by a toddler was rifling through the same range. We exchanged conspiratorial glances. For a fleeting second I considered admitting to her that I was not actually a sewer. Sort of a shameful confession in this crafty mecca. Just as I was discarding the urge to out myself (why not just pretend to be proficient in this exclusive world?) she burst out with: "I'm not even a sewer! I just love material!" "Ha!" I laughed loudly before checking myself, "I'm not either!" I whispered excitedly. "I just love fabric too!" Turned out she was buying squares with the hope/dream of one day making a quilt. "Good luck!" I whispered as I passed her some rolls of fab autumn coloured rolls.
I was thrilled to find the last of a roll of bright pink ikat fabric that was reduced to $4 a metre. More rifling through the pile produced a cute patterned roll of high tea pictures. Perfect.
Then it was just a matter of returning home to rifle through my cupboards, staring in to the depths for suitable treasures. Rows of teacups was an option, but tricky to transport and too easily broken. Similarly with cut glass and crystal. I liked the idea of single roses in tiny Italian soft drink bottles lining each table, but with 8-10 tables to adorn, I was going to have to drink a lot of soft drink in a week. Each place setting was going to have a gift bags and printed note, so it seemed better to stick with the less is more principle.
Ahh, SILVER! It's gleaming olde-world feel adds instant glamour to a table setting, and is unbreakable. I asked around some of the church women to see who had stashes of family silver to draw on. The answer was not many. Many women I asked seemed amazed (or even a tad disdainful) that a silver teapot could be seen as a necessary household item... Who knew?
After a few productive hours of polishing (I felt I was channelling Downton Abbey very well) my teapots were gleaming. Together with some china versions, we had enough to use as vases for the gorgeous old fashioned large coloured roses Kat got at a great price (they were seconds) from the markets. Placed on silver trays, the effect was simple yet lovely.
I took a bag of my silver pedestal bowls for the buffet table. As soon as women arrived with their (mostly) plain white bowls of fantastic brunch food, I deftly slid it on to a more glamorous platter. Downton Abbey eat your heart out!
Is there anything more enjoyable than a brunch with other women? It wasn't overly glamorous, the hall was too big for us to worry about the ceiling decorations I would have loved to pull off in another life. We heard a wonderful talk on the seasons of life. How God is in every part of our lives, and of how the necessary seasons of sadness and loss can be followed by richness and joy. That God is sovereign and that it's all about trust.
Our hearts were nourished.