Last Saturday (while decorating my moms for Christmas), my client (and friend) Vero had called to ask if I'd be interested in making a centerpiece for her sister's company holiday dinner party. It was another opportunity to be creative, so I quickly said YES! and started asking questions about the event: time, place, amount of people, location, and style. It was to be for one long banquet table, seating twenty-five people, at a steakhouse down south in Coral Gables, for the following Saturday night. She mentioned that her sister (aka Ronnie) REALLY had liked the red nosegay arrangements she had watched me make for Vero's bedroom makeover, so I used that style for the design concept. The only change would be the color from red to white.To keep the table style simple and elegant, I kept the other elements to be used with the thought of using wintry whites as well.

Inspiration: Colin Cowie tablestyling

Almost immediately, thoughts of snow, candlelight and Colin Cowie came to mind. To me, Colin is the master at creating simple, elegant, low profile banquet style tablescapes. However, to create a bit more height and drama, I was wanting to utilize additional branch arrangements dressed with simple silver or glass ornaments. I drew up a concept, listed what I would need, came up with a price, and confirmed everything with Vero's sister Ronnie.

My version with a little height for drama.

Thursday afternoon - I sourced and purchased all but the flowers. I did stop at a local flower depot to ensure they would have six dozen white roses that I would pick up the following day. Because they are in higher demand for the holidays, the price had increased from $13 for 2 dozen to $20 for 2 dozen (I think this is otherwise known as price gouging). Be that as it may, I knew she really liked the look of the rose nosegays, so I bit the bullet.

Saturday morning, I unloaded my supplies and set up an assembly line in the kitchen. I was most concerned with the flowers staying fresh, so I made space out in the garage refrigerator to store the arrangements after they were made. I used our bar counter to simulate the arrangement to be set on the table and help a one dimensional drawing come to life. This is also where I did troubleshooting and problem solving. For example: although I bought bags of snow and really wanted to use it on the table, I was leery of it flying up into peoples food or wine. To solve the problem, and still be able to use the snow, I added another smaller cylinder inside a cylinder. The small cylinder would hold the water for the flowers. In between the two cylinders, I spooned in snow, as well as added some acrylic snowflakes I was going to be hanging from the branches. To help secure the small cylinder inside (and avoid it shifting during transit) - I added a dab of hot glue to connect them both.

Every rose has it's thorn: and t least 5 out of six dozen stuck me in the thumb - not too bad lol. I pulled off leaves & guard petals, snipped off thorns, and lastly, gave the roses a fresh cut and placed them into water in the sink - to hold until it was time to make arrangements.

Clear hair ties are great for holding together stems.

The assembly line.
Smaller cylinders I later secured inside larger cylinders with a dab of hot glue.
After roses expire, the set can be used as a candle holder.

I feel like I really lucked out when I found the three taller vases to hold the branches in. Originally, I thought I would have used a more cone style with a pedestal base from Micheal's. But I found these tall and heavier weight etched glass vases at HomeGoods that to me - looked like ICE. I really didn't want to fill the vases with rocks, so to save on expenses for the budget, I planned to utilized what I knew I would have unlimited access to at the restaurant: ICE. To keep with an ice & wintry theme, I planned on utilizing two sizes of mirror squares as the runner in the center of the table. In between would be the glow of  2 dozen votive candles, mixed with some snowy white pine cones.

I confirmed the time to install with Ronnie. I planned on getting to the restaurant at 4pm and dinner was at 7pm. Since this was my first solo installation for a dinner party, I had wanted to give myself enough time - "just in case any snags " were to arrive. I cleaned up my kitchen, pre-loaded my car, got ready, loaded the flowers and I was on my way. I called Ronnie again to confirm car parking, entrance and ensure the restaurant would have a cart available for me to unload.... And then the "snag" came.

While driving on I-95 en route to the restaurant, Ronnie called and said those dreaded words a designer does not want to hear: "There's been a change." As my heart sank momentarily, I said, "Ok - give it to me." Ronnie went on to say, "The room is all set however, instead of ONE table, the restaurant had to do two because the one wouldn't fit - so can you work your magic and just split the arrangement into two?" (sigh - not the vision - but what are you going to do?) "Sure. I'll see what I can do when I get there."

Room restaurant "ready" when I arrived.

Room after the split.

The restaurant had also told Ronnie the room would be decorated and be included in the price of the meal. I couldn't wait to see what they did - and just as I suspected, one lonely wreath was in the room, but it was squashed on the wall unit wine display, along with two silver reindeer. I took a look around, and a deep breath and started to do what I do best - move it move it. What I really wanted to move were the tables into another arrangement to capture the drama and impact of my concept... but it wasn't going to happen. It looked like maybe some extra guests were added because there was more than twenty five place settings - and that was fine - I worked with it and made it happen with what I had on hand.

So - I got my things set up in the corner of the room, split my arrangement, used a few of the "extra" items I brought "just in case", and started to reconfigure the original thought process. Somehow, I even actually finished ahead of time. Many of the restaurant managers and employees stopped in and complimented that they loved the look of the room. And most importantly, Ronnie - and her sister Vero too were thrilled with the way the room turned out.

If there is ONE thing I've learned as a result of my work experiences is to have ADAPTABILITY. Adaptability is the ability to respond willingly (and quickly) to the demands of the moment ~ even if they pull you away from your plans ;-)

Have a GREAT day!



  1. Thanks so much for the pictures and sharing how it was all pulled together. Gives me some ideas for next year.

  2. It looks so elegant and beautiful, Lynda. Great job!

  3. Great job! Way to think on your feet.

  4. I decorate peoples homes for Christmas so know JUST what you mean about adaptability!!!!! It happened to me just this week! Your tables looked gorgeous! XO, Pinky

  5. You did a great job...even with a "snag"

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  6. Beautiful arrangements! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  7. Wow! I really enjoyed all the details you shared in this post. Thanks so much for the minute-by-minute strategy! I'm planning decor for my son's rehearsal dinner in two weeks, so I really loved the clear hair elastic tip! Just gorgeous tables -- and to cope with last-minute "surprises" is the mark of a real professional!

  8. Oh your tablescape makes me feel merry and bright!

    Seasons greetings to you and yours.

  9. You did that so beautifully. I never saw the thought process before and really learned a lot from it.

  10. Lynda, you did an amazing job of doing those beautiful centerpieces.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  11. Thanks Marigene, Donnie, Laura, Tricia, Pat, Rashon, Pinky, Jill, Sindy and BarbD!!! Your comments meant a lot... This was definately a learning experience!

    :D Lynda



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