Friday, January 20, 2012

Relief Society Valentine's Dinner

This event happened last February. I had blogged about it on my personal blog but kept putting it off for this one. So here are some ideas of how to feed 80-100 people for around $350 if you do all of it yourself and pull resources from people around you.

In my church I have the opportunity to plan our monthly activities for the women (called the Relief Society). I LOVE this assignment. And I have an awesome committee full of talented and willing ladies. We've done some wonderful things together as a committee to unite the women in our area and I feel we've been achieving our goals each month we have a meeting. But in February, we had our biggest meeting yet and for the year. We pumped it up for months ahead to get the greatest turn out possible. As is common in each activity, there were a few hiccups along the way and the night of, otherwise it was nearly flawless. We worked well together and from the comments from those in attendance, we know it was a success.

The theme: Enhancing Personal Relationships. We used an Italian theme with the food and for decor we kept it to the month of love with a red, white and pink color palate. Here are some photos and some descriptions. In a budget under $350 we served an elegant dinner to 100 people (including youth servers and children's class helpers), took a love language quiz and listened to professional counselor (who happens to be in the RS Presidency) teach us about enhancing our marriages. I thought we did a pretty nice job!

Here is the gym. We only used half of it to make it more intimate. We fit 10 round tables with 8 people at each, on this half.

The entrance.

Carnations from Costco, handed out to each sister (after I remembered) at the end. We had them each wear a nametag. Flower ball on clearance at Michael's after Valentine's Day sales.

Here is Nina and her daughter Sarita. Nina, on our committee, lovingly made all the paper good items including these nametags, with her many papercrafting supplies. Here she is greeting the sisters as they came in.

The buffet table. Rhonda, who has catering experience, suggested we put Christmas lights underneath the tablecloth. I liked the softened look and then the lights don't get in the way or dirty when serving the food.

I made a little fabric garland with fabric donated by my friend Raylynn a while ago. You never know when you'll use your fabric scraps so keep them anyway!

I made these silk topiaries with fabric I had in my stash. I'll share a tutorial sometime. I made the topiaries and garlands myself with my own materials to save money and so that I could keep them, which helped with the budget as well.

One our committee members, Michelle, suggested that we ask for volunteers to decorate individual tables. Each was unique and brought a nice personal touch. I gave them a 12" x12" piece of glittery cardstock as a guideline for how much space they could use. Here are a few examples.

Here is the speaker's table.

Nina made an "events" card with results form the quiz on the back. Notice the goblets? She also donated use of these that she had previously used in her daughter's wedding. When the women first entered this was one of the first things they noticed, these beautiful goblets. It added an elegant touch. Nina found them on clearance for $3 a box and was happy to be able to use them again. We didn't break one! She also had battery operated tea lights

We had menu's printed on a tri-fold with a quiz printed on the inside. As the women were seated and waiting to start the evening we had them take a version of the 5 Love Language quiz, which unbeknown to me, was part of Marlene's talk. The little red heart was supposed to act as a little cupid's heart. I had specially ordered red golf pencils on ebay but they did not ship on time (grrrrr) so we had to gather regular pencils (including my children's attractive printed holiday ones they get from school and other places) and didn't have time to punch holes in them to make the cupid affect. Minor detail. I used an 8 1/2" x 11" glittery piece of cardstock as a placemat.

One of the highlights of the evening was having a live quartet playing classical music. Nina's son-in-law created a group of his musical friends and they willingly volunteered their time (only in exchange for a free meal) to play background music. They were so good that when my husband walked through to pick up the kids, he thought it was a cd!

After they took the quiz we welcomed them and invited them to start on their salads (which were placed on the tables beforehand) and warm bread.

Here is the serving line with the food.

Here are some of the committee members slaving away. I stayed out of the kitchen as I was working on decorating and making sure everything was in order. Some of us ran around like chicken's with our heads cut off, especially right at the last minute when everything comes together. I think we all managed to be able to sit down for a few minutes to at least eat a little.

Here I am sharpening pencils beforehand after my ebay glitch. And I am thinner there too. What the?!!?!

Here are some of our cute servers. They really took their job to heart and were so willing and helpful. They kept our water filled and assisted the many elderly sisters in our ward by serving them their food directly so they didn't have to wait in line for their food.

The Menu. Rhonda came up with a delicious and fairly simple menu. We had a tight budget but wanted it to be delicious. She cooked most of it, hours before, herself. Alicia and Michelle helped in the kitchen as she instructed them.
We had two pastas. Regular spaghetti, with a nice meat marinara sauce. The second was a garlic cheese white sauce that she pre-mixed with pasta.
The salad was a copycat version of Olive Garden's.
She roasted garlic slices and mixed them with olive oil and herbs. We dipped our warm bread (from Costco, the Italian version) in this herbed oil spread.

We simplified our dessert by purchasing fresh mixed berry Gelato from our Costco cafe with a piece of biscotti. Simple, elegant, rich, unique, easy.

Marlene, our upbeat and funny speaker. Sadly, I couldn't listen to all of it but what I did gather was helpful.

It was a wonderful evening with few and simple decorations that made a strong impact, music to add to the ambiance, dimmed lights, delicious yet inexpensive food, a slow pace and the little details all added to a wonderful evening together. I know that each person was enriched by coming! Several said it was the best Church activity they had been to! That's the greatest compliment!

Thanks again to my committee and to Marianne for lending me your camera and taking some candid shots! 
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1 comment:

  1. Could there be a more perfect calling for you or a more perfect person for this calling?! I think not. Great work.