Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Feast 2013 — A Feast in the Forest

In my last post, I showed some before pictures of our main conference room, the site for this year's Feast (the annual company Thanksgiving meal).

If you go to the event links on the right sidebar of my blog, you'll find past years' Feasts.
Each one special and themed, all of them with attendance upward of 35 people.

But this year, we're a smaller group.
The number alone called for a different setting, one that wouldn't dwarf our fewer peeps,
AND still capture the special quality that we've always come to associate with this favorite tradtion.
So after years of renting four 8-foot tables to make a single, rather royal length of table, 
The Feast 2013 became a small, intimate gathering,
a cocoon of family and familiarity.

When I knew that the venue was moving to the conference room, I was drawn to the ceiling. When you work in a train roundhouse with vast, two-story ceilings, a room with a traditional, gridded drop-ceiling goes from ho-hum norm to creative inspiration. The idea of hanging something was my starting point.

On my way to and from Gideon's groomer month after month, I'd passed a fallen tree, its branches covered with pinecones. Sheer intrigue. And so, armed with my limb cutters, I filled the back of my SUV with enough branches that I knew would create a forest canopy when hung from the ceiling in the conference room.

The forest theme was cemented.

Suspended from T-bar hardware, fishing line and S-hooks, the branches were a piece of cake to hang.

I used the standard drop cloth table coverings we've used for years.
Office chairs had to be switched out for rentals that fit the theme much, much better.
Tree slices were used for chargers, with bits of reindeer moss or fern fronds as accents.
Live ferns nestled into wooden salad bowls and surrounded in spanish moss 
made the table feel like it was part of the forest floor.
I rallied delicate china from home, perfectly accented by gold utensils borrowed from a co-worker.
Napkins were cut from soft, laundered linen. Then the utensils were tied in vintage ribbon, bias tape and hem tape — in delicious colors — and laid on each napkin.
Water and wine glasses were set at each place.
Tea lights in a variety of jars formed a magical table runner.

[NOTE: In my previous post, I alluded to the hanging jars with tea lights that would hang from the branches. When Jessie and I staged this, we both stood back, viewed it, and agreed that it was too much. This is why we went with the jars on the table.]

The pushpin wall got a complete overhaul with a printed mural. Jessie found the perfect image, doused it with the Sutro IG filter, and output it onto a matte paper. Rather than try to create a single sheet, we opted for printing it out in strips and tearing the vertical edges of every other one. By overlapping every other one (the torn strips always on the top), the look became less contrived-mural and more art installation (Jessie was the genius on this one; you go, girl). The outcome, ethereal — a mash-up of Twilight, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, and my own cheesy connection to every unicorn scene in Legend (with Mia Sara and Tom Cruise). Don't hate me.

Ages ago, Buzz had given me a large canvas that he was planning on dropping off at The Salvation Army (well, actually, I saw the piece in his trunk and begged to take it off his hands). I wound up priming it and stashing it in a corner of my garage, ready for the day when I'd feel inspired to paint a masterpiece. When Jessie and I brainstormed, she brought up the idea of a large chalkboard menu . . . oh lordy, did I have the piece to do the trick. With Josie and Jessie chipping away at the ozone, the large canvas got a couple coats of chalkboard paint, and Jessie went to town chalking in the menu.

What a statement piece.
Garnished with a large branch, a found nest (complete with a broken baby bird egg), and lots of reindeer and spanish mosses . . . well, crafting don't get much better than this.

Desserts on the credenza were showcased on burlap fabric, 
perched on antiqued metal, glass and actual tree stump stands.

Great dinner music filled the space. 
Conversation and laughter filled in the harmony. 
Wine flowed. 
Food . . . we always, always, always do food like no other.

Greeting everyone on Feast morning was this vignette with a handmade, limb easel holding the sign that Jessie created and that had been hung around the office the week prior. Leaves, acorns, a galvanized bucket of ferns, and a wooden palette finish the look. (See the deer head on the door leading to the dinner venue; more about that below.)

The dessert plates on a burlap runner. Toile goes with anything, I'm just sayin'.

The door to the conference room, which remained closed 
for the 8 hours leading up to The Feast, sported this miniature deer head.

Jessie spritzing the ferns. She totally gets it. It's all in the details.
And nothing is lost on this office of creative, conceptual people.
They appreciate the creative process, both on the giving and receiving end.
We are blessed.


Elizabeth said...

BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!! Elegant and oh so dreamy. Nice job :)

Christy said...

I love the name Feast in the Forest. You are soo creative with your beautiful table themes and the different showers and weddings that you do. Plus I think work full time.

Thank you for sharing them with us.


Megan said...

What a beautiful celebration! You all did a great job!

xo Megan,

D Naugle said...

Wow! Just seeing this. You're are too good. Make this magic for more people!

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