A healthy part of marriage is making sure that you spend time with each other, but you also need to spend time with friends. Trae and I have friends who are married, single, dating, and parents. We love having a wide variety of friends and hanging out with all of our friends, but sometimes it is nice to get together with just our married friends. Marriage is a special covenant, and it is nice when we can gather with others who understand how wonderful and yet how hard marriage can be. Last night we hosted a Julia Child themed dinner with two other couples. All of us are close in age, yet at different places in our marriages. One couple has been married around ten years, Trae and I have been married five, and the other couple has been married for three. It was great last night to sit around a meal made mostly of butter and heavy cream, and share marital stories. We talked about everything from what our dream room in a house would be to what the ladies did with their wedding dresses after the big day. Toasts were made, food was consumed, and no one left until after 11 p.m. The best part: the party didn’t break the bank. We were able to re-purpose stuff we already had and then use a few cheap items picked up from craft and thrift stores to decorate.
The whole table setting was simple and elegant, and most importantly inspired by Julia Child. I love decorating and creating tablescapes for parties, but I hate spending a lot of money in order to do so. To ensure I don’t buy too much, I mentally designed the tablescape in my head. If you are artist, I would encourage you to draw it out. I am not artistic, so I just made a mental image. Using Julia Child as an inspiration, I knew I wanted to use the copper pots. My vision was to stack my massive collection of Julia Child books in various heights and then put the pots on top. The shallow pots would hold candles while the round pot acted as a vase for flowers. After visualizing the tablescape, I looked to see what we had that could make my vision a reality and then I made a shopping list: candles, table cloth, napkins, flowers, buttons, and pearls. Not only did I want to create an inviting dinner table, but I also wanted to create a sense of Julia Child’s presence. In order to do that I decided to make buttons of Julia Child’s cooking school emblem and get pearls for the ladies to wear. (Julia frequently wore pearls while cooking.)
I then went out for two days to shop around for my items. The table cloth was a Big Lots clearance item for $7. The green napkins were on clearance for $3 from Kmart. The buttons were clear plastic from Michael’s; just pop off the back and put your image in. They cost $4 total. Having a mental image of the tablescape really helped when I was in Michael’s. The store was full of rustic candle holders that would have gone great with the design, but would have cost me around 20 to 25 dollars. Sometimes sticking with a plan is hard, but it truly helps the budget. The pearls came from a thrift store for $2 apiece: bonus, they are super old antiques! The flowers were the most expensive splurge at $10, but they looked stunning in the copper pot. All of the plates, goblets, and silverware are hardly ever used weddings gifts. I ended up scrapping the idea of the putting the books on the table since it made the table look cluttered, and the other pots were actually used to hold gravy and bread instead of candles. I also swapped out a vintage Japanese paint advertisement that normally hangs in dining room with the caricature of Julia Child I have in the kitchen.
Overall, this Julia Child inspired table setting cost $28: not budget breaking at all. The food cost were low too because we ended up making the meal a pot luck. The only requirement was that whatever dish someone brought over had to be made from a Julia Child recipe. We personally spent around $80 on food, and that amount included four bottles of wine and enough to make four dishes. (The Fresh Market grocery store always has wonderful wine sales on Saturday; two normally expensive bottles are wine are $12.) I would consider that a pretty good deal for a night of good food and good friends. We all had so much fun we are already planning our next themed meal: Asian inspired. I can’t wait to see see what kind of budget friendly tablescape I can make for that dinner party!