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Tuesday, November 9, 2021


Every year our church holds a special banquet for our widows and widowers.  Each of our deacons is matched up with one to watch over and care for, and this is always a special night where we all come together to honor them.  The program, menu, and decor change each year, ranging from more formal to more lighthearted themes.  Since we weren't able to hold this event last year, we were especially looking forward to it this year.  I generally don't have a role with helping with this event, but one of my friends did this year and asked me to join in and help her decorate for it.  We quickly settled on a casual theme and today I'm sharing what we came up with for our "Oklahoma"/Western theme banquet stage and table decorations.

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If you're a newer reader, I often help decorate for events at our church, and when I started doing that years ago it was hard to find good ideas online for large events decorations when working with a set budget.  So, as we have events or banquets I've been sharing stage and table decorating ideas here over the years.  We are usually pretty frugal with our budget, which means the team has to get creative!  And that's when things often turn out the best, right?  Almost any event that I help decorate for starts like this... me pulling everything from my house (or my Mom's house) that might work and loading it up to take and use! 

Upon arrival, this registration table with nametags on each side was the first stop.  My friend had some old chaps and we mixed in some small cowboy boots, the OK cutting board that my son made, hats, lanterns, and a cute bucket for the door prize tickets. 

Several years ago I bought a good number of black and white gingham tablecloths for my parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary party.  Soon after, our church also purchased a lot of them to use for various events... they're a nice change from the usual solid black or white tablecloths and can honestly be used for lots of different occasions depending on what you put with them.  So, between what belongs to the church and what belongs to me we usually have plenty of gingham tablecloths for larger events.  

We used a red bandana at each place for napkins, then one in the middle for the centerpiece.  Each table had a lantern with candle, bunch of wheat, Oklahoma chocolates, and a large Ball jar with a few sunflowers.  We tucked the program and menu cards under the napkins, and more necessities were added to the center (bread basket, s&p, coffee mugs, creamers, etc.) when the time for the meal was drawing near.  

To decorate the stage, we used 2 sets of curtain lights (clipped with binder clips across the top) hanging in front of the black curtain that is always on the stage.  I envisioned it looking like a dark, starry sky and it sure did!  This was the first time I've used curtain lights and I'm a fan!  They have several different modes you can set them on and were so pretty for the backdrop.  

We brought in some straw bales from the local feed store, then my friend and I raided our houses for all things Oklahoma and western related!  You probably recognize just a few things here-ha!  

The shining star of the stage was the darling cow!  I had a pretty good idea of how I would set things up before I started.  The night before the event were were getting things prepped and pulling things from the church storage room to use, and I spotted that random cow cutout... I just about shrieked with delight!  I knew she was just what we needed for the finishing touch.  Our events coordinator said "I almost threw that thing away several times but I never did..."  :)  it was waiting just for me! (I just had to remove the "EAT MOR CHIKIN" sign that was around its neck!  #IYKYK)

My friend had an old side saddle that's been passed down through the family and we gathered up as many boots, hats, and other rustic things as we could find.  

We also prepared gift bags for each person to take home.  Everything we included was from an Oklahoma company!  The Bedre Chocolate factory is in OK and they make these adorable OK molded chocolates that we included.  Each bag also held one of a variety of cowbells, rustic crosses, or stars (all from the Christmas ornaments section) from Hobby Lobby, and we sent them home with their bandana napkin (also from HL). We got a variety of Shawnee Milling Company cornbread and biscuit mixes and added one per bag, and finished it off with a custom OK postcard made by a local graphic designer. 

Here is a look at the tables right before the event was beginning with the salads and desserts in place. Our menu included BBQ beef and chicken, roasted red potatoes, green beans, salad, texas toast, and dessert- all crowd pleasers!  And just an idea if you ever do a similar event- our youth choir students prepare for a mission trip each Summer.  At events like these we often ask them to serve the food, refill drinks, etc. and then leave a tip jar on the tables.  Any tips go towards their mission trip, it's a win/win for everyone!

We encouraged those attending to dress in their favorite western attire if they would like to.  I normally don't think about what I'm going to wear to things like this until right before, but several weeks out my friend mentioned picking up this darling sundress on clearance (cheaper in store if you can find it!) that she was going to try to layer up and make work for a fun outfit for the evening.  I had seen that dress and loved it but knew it would be too short for me.  But I knew I would love it if I could make it work as a longer skirt!  I rounded up two of them, cut the top off of one, sewed up the pockets on what would be the bottom tier and pieced the two together to make one maxi skirt!  I was totally figuring it out as I went and it's far from perfect, so there is absolutely no tutorial, but I think it turned out pretty cute!  

I shared the project in my Instagram stories as I went, and several mentioned that they had picked up that dress to use as their Christmas tree skirt this year.... so smart!  Now I might be on the hunt for another one, ha! 

It's SO cute on her as a dress but as I said I have a few inches on her so I was afraid it would be too short for me.  

The deacons always provide a group of restaurant gift cards to give away as door prizes.  Our traditional music pastor led everyone in singing some old "cowboy" favorites, concluding with "Oklahoma" of course!  Then, we had a group trivia game with some Oklahoma related questions.  The program concluded with our contemporary worship pastor leading some old hymn favorites on his guitar.  It was a sweet time! 

We were so pleased with how everything turned out and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening and our guests had fun and felt special, so that's a win!  (My husband and I are on a quick little getaway this week with absolutely no cell service, so if you have any questions in the comments that I can help with I'll get back to them as soon as we return!)

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Would you like to comment?

  1. I love your creativity on a minimal budget - only shows what CAN be done and with a team working together too! I love reading these so please continue sharing. Always shows what you think is not possible, truly is when putting your mind to it! Another great job Jen!

  2. So many pretty colors thru out the room and on the participants.

  3. As a young widow of 10 years, it warms my heart to see how you care for your widows and widowers: a population who are often underserved.

  4. Love the concept of the program! What a great idea, I think I will suggest it at our church! Love the decor, you always amaze me! Love the fun colors but especially the Oklahoma theme! Blessing to you and your family!

  5. What a GREAT concept for a get together. Just love that and the decor was just right! GREAT job!

  6. You all did a GREAT job! Everything looks so adorable. Thanks for sharing.


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