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Posted by SunnyCottage
Wed, Dec 5, 12 at 9:20
|I'm helping to plan a corporate event (reception, dinner, musical performance) that will be held at a venue that was once home to a brewery's stable of draft horses in the 1800s. It is now used solely for events such as ours, and is a lovely space that still retains many wonderful original features. Here are a few photos found online of other events in this space: |
A bit hard to make out, but the stage backdrop is a replica of Judge Roy Bean's cabin:
Love the old floor tile!
The old horse stalls still remain at the back of the room, and that's where we plan to have the caterer set up buffet stations. We do have the option of having the caterer provide centerpieces, but our little group of planners has always had such fun coming up with unique centerpieces on our own. I'd like to do something with either a draft horse theme (or maybe just a horse theme), or a beer/brewery theme ... or something that would be fun and complementary to the venue. For our last event, held in a restaurant with an outdoorsy theme, we did centerpieces of cattails and duck decoys. Our folks loved the decoys so much that we ended up playing a little game where we drew names, and people were able to take them home if they won. I'd really like to do centerpieces that once again convey a sense of fun and make people go, "Wow - that's kinda different!"
But I'm stumped. I've spent a lot of time online and can't really come up with any good ideas. One issue we have is that whatever we use, must be fairly easy to transport (not too heavy and not too fragile), as this event is out of town and our supplies will either be driven or flown to the destination.
I know you all are such a creative bunch ... Any thoughts for cool centerpieces?
|Arrangements in beer steins are kind of obvious, but will work if you can't come up with something else. You can get a variety of them on etsy. |
We typically used to have a bit of colored paper under one of the dinner plates at each table and that person got to take home the centerpiece.
Can you do something with horse shoes? Or you can get spurs and put them in the arrangement. Use dried grasses that look like hay. If you want a taller arrangement, maybe riding crops. Make arrangements in upside down cowboy hats.
You could get straight sided glass containers and then wrap them in something....maybe leather reins with a buckle or get cowboy buckles on belts.
Or maybe get some toy wagon wheels to add to the theme...
Make use of horse head swizzle sticks
|I did the tables for an informal rehearsal dinner - an oyster roast in a timbered boat club not unlike your gorgeous stable. |
We used galvanized pails from the hardware store for containers, set ornamental grasses and magnolia leaves in each, used big squares of burlap fabric over rented plain dark green tablecloths, and set a ring of votives in narrow glass cylinders around each centerpiece.
I can see something similar using grain stalks and apples to reference horse feed, award ribbons on the containers, toppers resembling horse blankets, and something like harness straps as napkin rings?
|Maybe you could work up something with a beautiful carriage lantern. That's something I'd love to be taking home. |
Here's a link to some lanterns.
Here is a link that might be useful: Lanterns
|Yes -- another vote for arrangements (maybe small rosemary trees?) in galvanized buckets. Then add battery-powered votives scattered on the tables -- in smaller buckets or silver votive cups. |
Yes -- tartan or plaid ribbons would be wonderful! :) Just like old old blankets that were used in buggies or sleighs.
Perhaps you could find small decorative sleighs?? -- to hold bags of candies around the tables?
|Forgot to add items with sleigh bells! :) |
Gorgeous place to have a party! :)
|Ya'll are just wonderful! Thank you so much for giving me so much inspiration - in just 4 responses! I now see that I can go really rustic, or a little bit more "refined", but still definitely keep to a horsey theme. Silly me - I had been searching for horse figurines and I did find a pretty cool Breyer horse: |
and also this group of "Mini Whinnies":
-- but I'm not sure if they'd bring too much of a "toy" look to the tables (although our folks sure did go for those darn duck decoys!). I think I've just about nixed the figurines that are just horse heads though, as they started to give me flashbacks from The Godfather.
I'm searching various websites for everything that you've mentioned, and feeling much more confident about creating really neat tables now! Thank you!
|I was looking for something like that with draft horses pulling a carriage to go along with the carriage lantern. Maybe there's a miniature carriage out there. Then you could decorate them for Christmas. A small decorated rosemary tree next to it would be a great touch.|
|You haven't said what the budget is for this project but my natural inclination is to think frugally. :) |
I've gotten free horseshoes for projects from local farriers as they often have buckets of them out behind the barn. Unfortunately they need to be soaked in a detergent/bleach solution and wirebrushed to clean them but look nicely rustic when clean.
Burlap goes well with a rustic theme and can be cut and frayed to use as runners, placemats, ribbon, or covers for floral containers. Also jute twine, sinamay abaca, and natural raffia is useful.
If there are private gardens with coniferous trees that can provide cuttings they can be used very effectively in containers, tied as swags, or made into wreaths. Fresh grapevine or willow twigs are also useful for wreaths or swags. I've made many twig wreaths from fresh willow cuttings very quickly and easily. One doesn't even need to tie them, just wrap them around each other. Each wreath takes about 3 minutes to make.
Even if your budget is generous you might use some frugal ideas and spend on expensive flowers to add to the decorations. Cedar, pine, and white roses with a horseshoe in a tin bucket with a burlap or abaca ribbon would be quite "rustic and refined", one of my favorite looks.
One of my favorite sources for inexpensive decorative items is Ikea. They have galvanized lanterns for tealights and galvanized buckets.
Here is a link that might be useful: abaca ribbon
|I should have mentioned that the event will actually take place at the end of February, so Christmas decorating is out. But I love the idea of a little carriage and I've been searching. So far all I'm finding are plastic scale models for use with model railroad set-ups. |
I do love the idea of carriage lantern on each table. And a galvanized bucket. And plaid ribbon. And burlap ...
|Luckygal, we have a very generous budget but still pride ourselves on frugal finds! That abaca ribbon is lovely ... thanks so much for the link!|
|Of course you don't have to do this in holiday theme, but this is right up there with duck decoys...|
|These are holiday themed but would be easy to switch out and build upon. They are horsey without looking too juvenile/toy like. Maybe too much $$? |
From Hobby Lobby - this might have potential, but not sure how!
Here is a link that might be useful: wooden horses
|LOVE the articulated horse.. I think I may need one for myself! ;) |
My first thought was a carriage lantern also. I have bought the Breyer horses and while not obviously toys, they aren't really what I'd picture for the room. A lantern with a candle in it on an antiqued mirror would be lovely. You could dress up with ribbon, leather straps with bells or greenery.
|Oops, Annie and I were posting the same thing at the same time. Maybe it's a sign. :)|
|If you were to go with the mini horses above, I would be inclined to paint fur on them so they don't look plastic. You might even be able to glue over the mane, tail, feet with some "horse" hair. |
I like the wooden horse cemterpiece. It feels kind of like a carriage.
|Oh, that articulated horse is just too cute! I may have to get a couple of those and have them displayed around the buffet area. I really like the wooden horse on wheels too. But I think at the moment I'm probably leaning most towards a large black carriage lantern (with candle) on each table, and working in possibly plaid fabric or ribbon, sleigh bells, horseshoes. Simple but sort of a rustic-elegant look.|
|Something with a lantern! Then, at least, most people will want to take it home. Yes, the $179 Parkhill lantern will do quite nicely.|
|What do you think about this style? They're advertised as "Stagecoach Lanterns", for whatever that's worth. I like the size - 7.5" x 6.5" x 16" high - and the price is definitely good ($40.30 for two, not including candle). |
|Per Annie's suggestion about the wagon wheels, I found some that are about 8" diameter ... |
Maybe a pair propped against the lantern? Or one propped up on the lantern, the other arranged lying down next to it? -- Or do these look a bit too "imported"? (Or does it matter? I can completely begin to obsess over the small stuff.)
|Well, horses eat apples and since it is in the dead of winter and everyone is dreaming of spring, a center piece of real grass or red apples and candles could work. Just google apple centerpieces. You can grow the grass yourself.|
|I wonder if you can find any old photographs of the place and its operations. I seem to recall one of the beer companies doing hay rides with their draft horses. You could make copies of them into old prints, tying them to the wheel for some memorabilia about the facility's history.|
|Katy, apples are a great idea! Even if we didn't use them on the tables, we'll have opportunity to decorate elsewhere - like on/around the buffet tables. I can picture galvanized buckets filled with juicy apples! |
Snookums, as a matter of fact, the facility displays a wealth of old photos depicting operations in "the olden days." That's a great idea for making little prints/cards and tying them to the wheels. We actually did trivia cards as part of our table decor for a Roaring 20s event earlier this year, and they were a huge hit.
|I saw some cute little mini apples in the market this year. They're beautiful and probably about 2 1/4" inches around. They are really good! They would fit well on a centerpiece display. Horses and apples go well together too, lol.|
|Jen is this in St. Louis? I remember going to the brewery tour there and the stables were gorgeous.|
|Do you suppose I could take natural colored raffia and kinda fluff it out and around the lanterns to resemble hay? (Well, kinda/sorta - ?)|
|As long as there's no chance of it toppling over. Quake tape?|
|I would rethink overloading the tables with specific figurines like horses or carriages. If whatever is in the middle doesn't have some scale, it will look lost in what I assume will be tables for eight. I also think achieving the feeling of the architecture and equipment of the stable is a more serene and appropriate direction than, as you so wisely said, using things that feel like toys. |
Also keep in mind that there will be glasses and silverware and plates of food and people dressed for the event, and all those things will also be in the visual field of each table. So something simple, designed in the round so that it looks right from every seat is what I would aim for. Fewer elements, and a more generous scale. At an event with large round tables, you don't have to worry about people seeing over it, because they will rarely talk with anyone farther away than the two on either side of them.
|Deee, it's in San Antonio. And isn't it amazing how much work went into buildings for the horses back then? ;-) These stables have the original cupola in what is now the dining area, and it's breathtakingly beautiful. (Of course, its purpose was to air out the horse stink, but the craftsmen who built the place definitely kept aesthetics in mind!) |
I am liking the idea of the larger lantern in the center, surrounded by a "fluff" of natural raffia. Maybe tie a large plaid bow onto the lantern, and just leave it at that. I agree with you, bronwynsmom - less is probably more in this case, although the temptation to overdo has been crowding my thoughts. But yeah - since the tables are round, the centerpiece does need to appeal from all angles. That's why I'm really leaning heavily towards the lantern.
|I'm in the more is more camp, less is more is fine at home when I'm the one who has to clean, but going out, I want to be dazzled. And I don't think most people talk across those big tables anyway.|
|Well, another issue we'll have to consider is that we (the planners) are responsible for cleaning up and clearing out the decor after the event is over with. If we were leaving it up to the caterer, then they would have to take care of it, but since we're DIY'ing, that job falls to us. I'm already getting tired just thinking about how exhausted we all are after one of these evenings, and how all we want to do is go back to our hotel rooms. Sooooo ... just another consideration, and another reason why "less" is slightly more appealing to me than "more." |
|Perhaps, but if you use things that can be thrown away afterwards, like hay, greenery, candles, etc. it doesn't have to be a big clean up effort. Give away the main things and throw the rest out.|
|True! We're still tossing around ideas here. (And I've just been told that we may already have candle lanterns in storage that we can use again.)|
|OK, somebody brought me a couple of the lanterns that we have in storage - see photo below. I believe there are 3 slightly different styles. I love these ... they definitely have a vintage look to them, and I think they'll work beautifully in the venue with all of its old features. They're rustic, but they will probably be the most rustic pieces that we use. We're going to look for small saddle blankets to underscore the centerpieces, small hay bales, and will likely order the 8" wooden wagon wheels pictured above. Thanks again so much for the extremely helpful suggestions. You really got my mind going in the right direction! |
|topiary horses would be beautiful - miniature horse shoes for place cards (can find at your local riding/saddlery shop for around $1 each) - riding helmets - etc. Google equestrian party themes. I have thrown many a horsey-themed party for my daughter who rides ...|
|Oh those are wonderful! I would want to keep them though :-) |
Grapevine is a great unifier, it comes in small "wreaths" at Michael's , Hobby Lobby, and you pull it apart to make a mesh of sorts. It's the rustic version of tulle. Wrap it over and around everything.
|You need some harness collars, lay them down, amd build some arrangements in them. If you can get hames (the metal part that goes on the outside of the collar) paint them brass color for some sparkle. |
You could make place card holders or napkin rings out of little shoes. Or, you could tie napkins with a piece of leather.
Since it was the Pearl brewery, I think you should use Pearls, and waterfalls, too.
|Those lanterns are great and I love that they are old and not all the same! I wish you could find a miniature carriage with some horses that could go on the banquette table as a center arrangement. |
Some great ideas. Maybe you can find a set of old sleigh bells to hang too.
|Those lanterns are awesome.. and love that they are all different. |
I am also looking for the articulated horses and havent found them as yet. They'd be perfect for a few I have to buy gifts for. Anyone have a link to where to buy online?
|Hobby Lobby wood slinky horse.|
Here is a link that might be useful: articulated horse
|I don't suppose your budget is this generous....|
Here is a link that might be useful: Horse Place Card Holders
|oh thank you, Snookums! I don't even think i was on the right site!|
|Thanks for the additional ideas! The caterer tells me that we shouldn't use the "horse stalls" to house the buffet stations (will restrict the line flow too much), so those areas will be open for us to decorate as well. I'm definitely going to keep searching out horse items - harness collars and hames as mentioned above would very cool! Also love the idea to use grapevine in the mix. And those articulated horses ... Yes, I'm definitely going to be ordering several of those guys! |
Annie, I'm unable to open the link (blocked from work computer), but the place card holders sound quite pricey from your description, so maybe it's for the best. ;-D
|Don't forget spurs and riding crops...I was surprised at how affordable they were. I think the riding crops could look neat in a tall arrangement for the buffet table...or can work with horse blankets and such in the stalls.|
|great ideas and love the lanterns. If you need more centerpieces what about feed bags and fill with flowers. |
Here is one link but a Google will give lots of results.
Here is a link that might be useful: Feed Bags
|I was just looking through my September/October issue of Victoria magazine and they had a wonderful spread titled "Equestrian Elan" (pp 20-26). Some of the items that stood out to me was the use of red (Scottish) tartan plaid, which brought in some nice bright red color; large pine cones (and no, this was not done for Christmas); wicker picnic hampers and vintage equestrian prints.|
|I love the vintage lanterns you found. And the little horses are so adorable. I would love to take one home! Who are the guests? I think wagon wheels on the tables may be too rustic in such an elegant setting. |
You could arrange little red apples with "hops" (ornamental wheat grass) to playfully remind the guests of the original tenants as well as suggesting a sophisticated microbrew.
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