DECOR & DIY, DIY

A DIY 60th birthday celebration

If you read my Franschhoek Wine Tram post, you would know that my mom recently celebrated her 60th birthday. To round off the week of celebration, we decided to have a birthday dinner with close friends and family. Since I couldn’t seat all 14 people (and 3 kiddos) in my dining room, my aunt and uncle graciously agreed to let me use their beautiful home instead!

I had so many ideas running around this crazy brain of mine, it’s a miracle that I managed to settle on any of them!

I eventually decided on a black, white and gold theme and then, at the last minute, decided to add just a pop of red (by way of roses) to the scheme. This is so far out of my comfort zone – I usually tend to stick to whites, pinks, blues with a more blended, impressionist look, not the glam high contrast look – but I so enjoyed the challenge! I wanted to (read: needed to due to budget constraints) DIY the whole thing, but I drew the line at the food – there is no-one that wants me to DIY that, since cooking is not my strong suit!

Back to the tables, I really wanted to do black table cloths with black and white striped runners and, with the aim of saving money, I thought that I would use wrapping paper as the table runners. Boy, was I wrong! I couldn’t find any paper that I liked (you would think that finding a simple black and white stripe would be easy), besides the fact that I realised that wrapping paper can get really expensive if you want to use it as a table runner. As a result, I went to a fabric store and bought fabric to make runners for cheaper than the paper would have cost! Woohoo! I mean, cheap fabric that still looked good – how hard can it possibly be to turn these into runners?

I wish that I could say to you that I whipped these runners up in the space of an hour all while making my husband coffee, helping my daughter with her spelling homework and helping my son with his colouring in and puzzle building; and that I was smiling serenely and not letting one curse word pass my lips through this time. I really wish that I could say it! But alas, that would be a lie. Here’s what went down…..

  1. I had to call my mom-in-law and ask her very nicely to please set up her overlocker and sewing machine for me, so that I could ‘quickly’ make some table runners.

    Making table runner 1 - Sawdust and High Heels
    So I can’t cut straight, but it’s good enough, right?
  2. I had to drive (the whole 2 minutes) to my in-laws with kids in tow and take over their kitchen counter so that I could try and cut the fabric to the desired widths – as you can see, I’m not terribly gifted in the cutting straight department! I did however have some help from my precious niece, who was also visiting her grandparents!

    Making table runner 2 - Sawdust and High Heels
    My cute little helper ๐Ÿ™‚
  3. I then had to move myself along to the sewing room, where Ma (my mom-in-law) had to check the tension of the overlocker for me.
  4. I proceeded to start the (for me) painfully slow overlocking process – trying to keep in a straight line is tough for me (if you hadn’t realized that from my point 2 haha)!
    Making table runner 5 - Sawdust and High Heels
    The overlocker thankfully neatened all my skew cutting.

    Making table runner 6 - Sawdust and High Heels
    Selfie time!
  5. When I was eventually done, I had to again call Ma, this time to set up the sewing machine! While she was busy with this, my son and I decided to take some selfies, because I have given up trying to learn to thread a sewing machine hahaha

    Making table runner 8 - Sawdust and High Heels
    Fold and sew; fold and sew…
  6. I then sat my bum back down again and, thinking that I really don’t need to pin it first since I’m sewing down the straight line of a stripe, I proceeded to fold and sew, fold and sew…

    Making table runner 9 - Sawdust and High Heels
    Oops! The white was not supposed to show…
  7. About halfway down the 2.5m runner I remembered that I needed to check my handiwork and lo and behold, I had sewed skew!! So, I had to unpick everything that I had just done!! I will not repeat the thoughts that we going through my head!

    Making table runner 10 - Sawdust and High Heels
    Much better!
  8. When I was done with that tedious task, I started over, this time paying much more attention to my folding and sewing!
  9. At this point darling Ma popped her head in and offered, on top of looking after all the grandkids (9, 3 and 7 months), to finish off all 3 runners for me, so all I needed to do was pick them up on the way to my Aunt the next day! I was so grateful, especially since it was about 9pm and I still needed to go home and make a sign for the party!!

So, as you can see, the theoretically easy task of making some table runners is practically a pain in the *bleep* for me! I can sit here and tell you that I would never attempt it again, but I would be lying. Again. Because even if I hadn’t been lucky enough to have Ma help me, and no matter the fact that it was a tedious task for me to make them, if it came down to it, I would do it again. Why? Because it’s cheap and it just looks so damn good once it’s all done!

Let’s move on to flowers next… I decided to go with cost effective white chrysanthemums, dotted with some red roses in between. Since we were all sitting at one long table, I kept the flower arrangements low on the table so that everyone could see each other; there was no leaning around things to keep conversations going! I was also lucky enough to find these vases for buy 3 get 1 free, which really helped this girl-on-a-budget out! The flower arranging also took a bit longer than anticipated, but I can at least confidently say that there was no *bleeping* during the process. So I count that as a win! Unfortunately I didn’t take step-by-step photos, since I was running out of time and still had a million things to do to get everything done in time for the party! But here is a summary nonetheless:

Flower arrangement 2 - Sawdust and High Heels
The mums and the roses worked so well together and the ribbon added just the right touch to the arrangements! The best part is that over a week later, the flowers still look fantastic!
  1. I bought black and white striped ribbon which we cut to size and stuck to the vase by means of double-sided tape (clever Aunt that I have – I was going to glue it and worry about getting it off later!)
  2. I then proceeded to cut the chrysanthemums down to required size – I measured by putting the vase at the end of the table and then holding the stem next to it to get an idea of how long (or short) it needed to be. I generally had to cut an extra 2 – 3 cm off afterwards again, but my view is rather cut them too long then too short initially!

    Flower arrangement 1 - Sawdust and High Heels
    Coming along nicely ๐Ÿ˜‰
  3. I placed those (with water) in the vases until the vases were packed relatively full.
  4. I then cut the roses (using the same very technical measuring method and point 2) and then gently placed (or more accurately, shoved) them in between the mums.
  5. In total, I used 60 red roses (they were small buds though, you would get away with less if you have bigger flowers) and 4 bunches of white mums to create 5 arrangements for the table.

I think that it worked quite well – it was pretty simple to achieve and I liked the impact that they had on the table.

For the cake, I had ordered a 4 layer chocolate cake, with a black and white stripe and gold drip detail over the top of it. I then took 10 red rose stems and, with the help of my Aunt (again) proceeded to decorate the top of the cake with the roses:

  1. Cut the roses down, so that you have about a 3 cm stem left.
  2. Once you’ve got an idea of where you want the roses on the cake, use a wooden skewer (or chop stick – that’s what we used) to make a hole where the first rose needs to go. This is a very very scary thing to do, because I didn’t want to destroy the beautiful finish by making a mistake!
  3. Once you’ve made the hole, place the rose stem in it.
  4. Proceed to make holes and place roses until you have created the desired pattern.
  5. I finished it off by placing gold candles in the 60 form on top of the cake – better option than putting 60 candles on the cake!

    60th cake gold drip with red rose topper - Sawdust and High Heels
    A view from above.

In between all this I had to run around like a crazy person – go buy the flowers, pack all the decor, flowers, hired gold underplates, helium filled balloons and a whole lot of other stuff into my teeny little Nissan Micra (it did very well) and drive to my aunt, where we needed to rearrange furniture and set up. Then it was off to collect the cake and the food (the most delicious lasagna!), back home to shower make myself presentable, and then back to my aunt’s house to finish the set up. I wasn’t yet done when the first guests arrived (early), so they helped out by making the salad for me!

I was just done by 6 pm, which was when the party was due to start, thanks to the help of aunts, uncle and friends!

Here are a few more snaps of the party:

Flower arrangement 3 - Sawdust and High Heels
I love the way that the flowers turned out.
Black white and gold dinner table 3 - Sawdust and High Heels
The table: we had to flank the big table with 2 smaller ones to be able to fit everyone at the same table. I used cost effective (yeah, ok, cheap!) black plastic table cloths under the runners to get the look that I was going for and added some gold chargers just to break the monochrome of the setting.
Black white and gold dinner party - Sawdust and High Heels
The bar and serving area – I forgot to take photos of the food! Oops!
Black white and gold dinner party 3 - Sawdust and High Heels
Another angle of the party area – I’m glad that I remembered the colour scheme of the room that I would be working in!
60th cake black and white strip with gold drip and red rose topper 2 - Sawdust and High Heels
Another view of the cake – it was delicious!!

We had a fantastic evening of catching up, celebrating my mom and, of course, drinking champagne and eating food! Oh, and that cake was one of the most delicious cakes I have ever eaten! Having the food and cake catered for me was the best decision that I made!

Have you DIYed your parties? How did you do it? Any tips for this newbie?!

4 thoughts on “A DIY 60th birthday celebration

  1. It was such a wow party and looked amazing. What She forgot to add was that her right hand better half was so sick he wasnโ€™t around at all to help.

  2. Thank you to Stacy for the decor, Jill for the loan of her house and the family and friends for celebrating with us. The lasagna was divine and as for the cake, as Stacy said, one of the best cakes I have ever had. I am so blessed to have such a thoughtful and caring daughter and sister. I was thoroughly spoilt for my 60 th, celebrations lasted a whole week.

  3. Stunning my friend! Have any party plans for your birthday soon? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Really love the colour scheme, and like you said different to your usual style but you really pulled it off well!

    1. Nope, but we are going away for the weekend, but some of us will be celebrating sooner than others, won’t they?! Hehe
      It was difficult working out of my comfort zone, but it was fun!

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