Jan 16, 2007

Too Pooped to Party?

This time of year, most of us are just "partied out" and the last thing we want to do is to attend yet another party or much less host a party! However, all because we just finished with the holidays, that does not mean birthdays, anniversaries, or special events do not happen in January.

So, if you are like me, you are now paying for your holiday bills, glad that the tree is put away, and cookies don't even tempt me right now. But, what if you must host a dinner party? It needs to be inexpensive, quick, easy, and special.
I did this "paper" table theme for less than $40 and it took about 45 minutes from scratch to finish - really! Old books, paper, clear vases, and burlap and you have one festive gathering. I use old books as plate chargers - in this case, my friend who is a lawyer, made partner, so I am using old law books.
If the guest of honor were to be an artist - then art books. A chef? Cookbooks. A teacher? Dictionaries. The possibilities are endless. Just make sure the books lie very flat. Your plates should not "rock" while cutting food on them.

I used burlap as runners (about $2.99 per yard) and lined the edges with torn pages from the books. I rolled a page out of the book for the napkin ring and tore a page and taped to wire for the place settings.

The center pieces are just crushed up paper pages that are shoved into clear vessels. I made some paper flowers out of pages by simply taking a page, and twisting the center until it flares out to make a flower and tie wire to the end and just shove the wire into the vases. When guests arrive, just remove the tall center piece and place it on the dessert table (yes, you should always have a dessert table). I use old books with the covers torn off in the center to give height and interest. Move the candles to the center when you remove the tall center piece.

Votive candles with paper and fire? Are you crazy? Well, maybe a little. But really, just use common sense. The "votive" holders are just glasses I took out of my cabinet and I took a page and smashed it inside all around the edges. I then burned down the little candle half way before I used it inside the glass. Light the candle while it is OUTSIDE the glass. Once lit, then carefully place inside the glass. If this makes you nervous, then just simply tape the old paper around the outside of the glass and trim the edges. But I prefer to live on the "edge." :-)

I have many more photos, but they didn't load up for some reasons. I did this in my dining room and will be creating an artist guest of honor table top design next. I will use the same venue so you can really see that the same place can really be designed differently.

I hope your new year is off to a great start and may the next dinner party you host be a party that the guests will be talking about for weeks to come. I live by one main rule when entertaining: I NEVER set out to impress my guests...I set out to make them feel super special. I want them to know that I think they are worth the effort. Making a guest feel special, rather than impressed is the only way to truly make your guests feel welcomed.

I hope you feel welcomed to my blog - because I find you very special.

From my house to your house,



Anonymous said...

divine Elizabeth, and how important that you point out the goal is to make the guest feel special, not to impress them...friends are treasures and deserve the extra attention with flourish and style...thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

You MUST be my long lost sister...we come from the same design gene. I do a lot with burlap and vintage books myself - but I'm sure that doesn't surprise you since we share the same odd passion for cracked & vintage doll heads too!

Very cool setting.

Brandon Woline said...

Take My Breath Away!!!
Elizabeth you always amaze me. Your pictures, words, and style, all Extraordinary. Im so jealous of you and your friends, I want to have dinner at a place as soothing and unique as your place. Even though its cheesy it has to be said...You go girl!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Brandon - you can be cheesy all you want - I am thrilled to know that my design inspires you. How lucky am I to have so many special people who take the time to let me know how my designs inspire them - you know what that does, don't you? Inspire ME even more to come up with ideas...thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth..... YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!
I love the simplicity, the layering, the tone on tone with amazing textures...
YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!! and your photos look super professional, do you use a digital camera?

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Thank you Chiara! Yes I use only digital and only natural light. Every photo you see (in magazines, website or on the blog) take by me was taken using only natural light.

Thank you for being so sweet with your words!

savvycityfarmer said...

If I should happen to get invited, I'd gladly attend just one more gala.

Did you get my email?
I cannot find the new RH

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful setting. It is warm and inviting.

Anonymous said...

Simple, Vintage, Elegance... wow...

I have long admired your phtography as well.


Michelle Legler said...

Although I've been a big fan of yours for some time, I just recently found your blog.
Being a former boutique owner, I love your vendor advice! I actually was laughing out loud reading it, as there were many times that I just wanted to scream "GET OUT!" "Can't you see I'm swamped here?" Your boutique would be a big hit here in Arizona, as everyone here loves the color brown. Good Luck to you Elizabeth and may I say that divorce agrees with you....you look FABULOUS darling!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Thank you Mosiac Queen - how nice of you to write me and tell me such wonderful thoughts. Only a fellow store owner would really understand the struggles of owning a shop - fun - but a struggle. And of course "you may" say that divorce agrees with me - one never, ever tires of compliments! Thank you again so much,

McMaster & Storm said...

I found your blog, ironic because approx. 2 years ago I stopped @ your shop on the way to California, after reading about you in "ME Home Companion". We're getting ready to hang a chandalier I purchased @ your shop in "our creative space" at our store McMaster & Storm in Greenville, Ohio, "a petite department store". I enjoyed reading your advice on running a shop. Darcy & I share the same sentiments, ecspecially the vendor one, ah we can relate. Since we are doing a wholesale line along w/ our store, we definately know how we want to approach retailers!
Best, Kara & Darcy

Anonymous said...

What a neat idea. I love your dining room. Are there any pictures of the rest of your home on the internet?

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Thank you for the compliment! Actually my apartment was featured in a 12-page spread and the cover for Mary Englebreit's Home Companion Feb 2004. I have had several people request some photos of my apartment - I will post some in my next blog. Thank you for asking and taking the time to write.

Anonymous said...

Your sense of display is unbelievably gorgeous. I love your visual merchandising and your photos are incredible! I just blogged about you and I wish I could run over to your Boutique this minute! Thank you for the eye candy!
Dianna Castner

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, you're always so inspiring. As I read this blog entry, I could just imagine it as a segment in a book you had written about entertaining. Hope you will consider it.

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