Valentine's Table - in Less than ONE HOUR!

When my cousin and I brainstormed a “surprise” 50th birthday party for her husband this weekend, of course we wanted it to be elegant and beautiful. After all it is Valentine’s weekend!

Last night I made a quick Costco run. Salmon – check! Flowers - check! Chocolate cake – check!

Share the cost
We decided to split the meal since money is tight for everyone! I’d prepare the main course and provide the bread. She would bring the appetizers, salad – and reimburse me for the flowers (her hostess gift to me!) and the chocolate cake. Why should both of us use gas in driving to Costco when one was already going!

This morning I set my table, got my appetizer table ready, prepared the cake and arranged the flowers in less than an hour!

Yep, by 9 am I was finished

Snowy day - perfect for a Valentine's dinner

Mmm … what table cloth is already ironed?

Pulled out standard white plates (and red!) for table setting

Cleared off Duncan Phyfe $200 garage sale table

Put on the table cloth and white dishes

Looked in napkin hutch (white napkins ironed, on the other side)

Basic table setting – 2 forks (one for salad, one for main dish), $1 glasses

Melted candle wax running down the wall from last party (won’t have time today to get it off!)

Grabbed 3 tiny, favorite flower vases

Snipped the flowers from bought arrangement, ones that would match my tablecloth

Ready for the table (the rest of flowers are in a vase, in the corner of my dining room)

Cleared table in living room for appetizers, grabbed a candle from my husband’s office, garage sale forks, leftover Christmas napkins, and borrowed heart plates

Snipped flowers for the delectable cake (we'll add 5-0 candles!)

Put on my favorite white (housewarming gift) Crate n’ Barrel pedestal plate

Put plastic lid back on, until tonight

Yes, in less than ONE HOUR, I’m set for tonight!

Preparing the food
The food process will be easy and something I can do in a couple of hours before the guests arrive. My husband will be in the kitchen helping me – it’s something we enjoy doing together.

Oh, and should I wear this apron that my friend Joy made for me?

Things don’t have to look perfect
And, I forgot to tell you – after I had my table set I found this tablecloth in my ironing pile that would have been way more appropriate for an elegant Valentine’s Day dinner!

Years ago I probably would have taken everything off my table, ironed the “perfect” tablecloth, and started completely over. Because I cared more that things had to look perfect.

2 brand new couples
I’m grown up now. I don’t care that things are perfect. What I care about today, and I’m looking forward to tonight, is that 2 brand new couples who have never been to our house, are coming for dinner! I’m so excited!

I already know that it’s not my tablescape that is going to make the night special. It’s going to be the connection between the 4 couples.

Eight people celebrating
We will be celebrating the 50 years of a very special man's life. The talk will be important; it will be robust, with substance.

I can just feel it.

Do you get caught up in trying to make everything perfect before your guests arrive?

(Does anyone have a tip for me - how to get the wax off of my wall and carpet?)


Betsy said...

Beautiful...and good for you to relax and be real...one hour is plenty and nobody notices the things we fussed over when we were younger and paranoid! ha-ha! What a fun celebration, too! :)

abeachcottage said...

g'day Sandy

well it looks perfect enough to me, funny since I've been tablescaping I am surprised how quickly you can put it together and how *nice things can look without doing much!

the wax I think you can put a brown paper bag on and then iron over on cool iron, the paper sucks up the wax

happy valentines day and happy entertaining (I need a good look around here I'm struggling a bit with entertaining again...*smile)


Ms. Tee said...

It's all sooo pretty. I'd definitely wear that apron. :) Have fun & happy v-day!

The Nester said...

1. That's my favorite chocolate cake, the one from Costco.

2. You hang and iron all of your table cloths.

3. You have tablecloths.

You are so the entertainer.

Heather's Home (aka Chez Hez) said...

That turned out so lovely! Great Job! I'll have to remember some of those tips when my hubby and I have an "after hours" dinner tomorrow nite (aka after the kiddos are off to bed.)

Thanks for sharing!

Barbara said...

Wow, I'm impressed! I really liked the other table cloth though; it would go a lot better with your color scheme... How hard could it be; I'm just sayin'...

And yes, your apron is adorable; it would look great with a pink, red, white or black colored outfit... I'm so color conscious...but it does make a difference if you have the time for that kind of stuff!

Have a great time at your special dinner. With love, Barb

Barbara said...

PS For the wax spill, try to get as much off by hand as you can. I would scrape it off the wall with razor blade and then I would get a bag of ice and freeze the wax on the carpet until it's nice and cold and try to break off as much as possible. After that maybe try combing the rug with a fine-toothed comb to get the smaller stuff. I fear if you try to melt it out, especially with it being red, it may just spread out more...
Good luck!!!

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Sounds like it will be a successful and fun evening.
Sorry, no advice on the wax.

Sandy Toes said...

Okay..my dear bloggy friend,
I have a new Awesome RESPECT for you...those tablecloths..ironed..on hangers..oh mY! You amaze me but you still make it look so easy!

Yes, I can be stressed to make everything perfect...I will let you know..next weekend my house is part of a progressive dinner!
Happy V-Day to You!
-sandy toe

MDiskin said...


I've found that all is forgiven if you offer your guests a beautiful, tasty dessert!

And I also tend to overplan in the appetizer arena. If I have 4 on my list, 3 will get done. I just accept it and move along. And I'm a big believer in easy apps like fun dips for veggies and crackers -- easy to make, easy to store, and good at room temp.

ellen b. said...

Oh what fun to celebrate with a nice crowd. OK but I'm blown away that you bought that Duncan Phyfe table for $200! What a great find!!

An Adventurer in the World said...

Ta-Da! Looks absolutely wonderful.

See how I don't care about perfection tomorrow? My 11yo daughter is hosting her very own party. I have let her take charge of every bit, and she's having a blast.

SANDY...I have exact Navy Polka Dot napkins you do! except...I made mine from a $1 bolt at Walmart. Did you make yours?

deb meyers

Biteofpunkinpie said...

wax: i think you're just going to have to use a butter knife on the wall... for the carpet, get out your iron and some paper towels and get to work... put the paper towels down to absorb the wax and iron on top of them. i would start on not-too-hot a setting just to see how your carpet takes the heat, yo ucan always turn it up hotter if it doesn't seem to be bothering the carpet and and the wax isn't coming up.

btw, i LOVE your collection of tablecloths!!!! hanging them up like that is the PERFECT way to store them! I usually just fold mine and cram them into the drawer where I keep my dishtowels, but now I will certainly find a spot to hang them!

have a fun party!

green gables girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tammy said...

Wow...everything looks so beautiful! And that cake...YUM!
What I couldn't get over, though, is all of your ironed table cloths on hangers! I have just three table cloths right now...Christmas, summery, and Autumn. And I just wash and dry each one and hurry and take it out of the dryer to put directly on my table instead of ever ironing! LOL

But truly, I always get so many ideas from you!
Happy Valentine's Day my friend!

Hopefull said...

I dream of having a closet of tablecloths like that, a napkin hutch and a balcony girls club. You are a great resource and inspiration to me and Im glad it does not have to be perfect! Oh, and we made choc covered pretzels this year too ;)

Kim said...

I love the red plates!! I am sure you have mentioned this before, but I'm wondering about storage issues - especially for napkins, tablecloth, extra dishes, etc.

Sorry, I don't have any ideas about the candle wax - wish I did!

Happy Valentine's Day Sandy!!

Jessica said...

Sandy, I think this is one of your best posts EVER! The way you walked us through each step of the process, and even gave us peeks into your tablecloth/napkin storage (which I am so jealous of, by the way - makes me want yard sale season to come all the quicker!). Amazing job - and THANKS for taking the time to post that for all of us!!!

Kirstin said...

Yummy, everything looks good. I use a brown paper bag and an iron, just like a beach cottage said. Works like a charm.

Laurie said...

One hour! I'm so impressed!!! I hope you have a wonderful time!

Gena said...

Thanks, once again, for the inspiration! I am praying that i can absorb some of your relaxed attitude and open heart. Thanks for sharing.

Wish I had some idea for the wax, but I'm sure there is great info on the internet.


Jen said...

My table is already decorated and I so love yours....my little family is who I'm taking care of though tonight....small and quaint...enjoy your heart day dear friend.

Candice said...

Sandy--I took a quick peek at your blog yesterday afternoon and was inspired to make the table for our company last night a little more special. Thanks for the reminder that a little extra effort makes your guests feel blessed by the thoughtfulness.

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

I agree--one of your best posts!

I need to find a special place to hang tablecloths, but we only have 1 closet for coats/linens.

I also love the tip about taking only the right color flowers from a mixed bouquet. Often, that is so much cheaper than buying a whole bundle of red flowers alone.

You are so good!

Jenn said...

Wow, what a beautiful and elegant setting!!! I'd be interested in hearing how you get that wax up...I have that issue as well. :)

I'd love to see your salmon recipe, I just bought some, too.

duchess said...

No tips for the wax but I do have a question.....
When you're entertaining, how do you actually serve the food. Do you put everything on a buffet or do you just prepare the plates & put them on the table before everyone comes in? I have a hard time with this issue.

Keri said...

Looks lovely! You should share more about how you organize your table linens - that would be helpful to many, I imagine. I'm beginning to entertain a lot more and I'm gleaning all the info I can from more experienced hostesses!

About the candle wax - freezing it helps, but that's not going to do you much good on the wall, eh?

Keri said...

Here's another question - when you find specialty plates, like the red plates you used for salad plates - how many do you buy to have enough on hand for any party? 8? 12? I realize at a garage sale you don't have a choice, but you mentioned dollar stores, etc.

Just wondering...

Donnetta said...

Wonderfully done! And thanks for the tips scattered throughout this post.

I was glad to be reminded that one bunch of flowers can serve multiple purposes.

Clippings for table centerpiece, cake topping and bouquet for the room.

I know people put fresh flowers on cakes but I must admit I had never thought to do it myself!

YEAH! New idea! :-)

Happy Valentines Day friend!!

sweet momma luv u said...

Thank you for coming and visiting my blog! I hope your party was a success last evening. Love all your table linens.

To get the wax out of your carpet and off of the wall try putting ice in a baggie and freezing it off (or you could try one of the frozen block used in a cooler). It should pop off the carpet and the wall. Hold it there until it loosens up.

Have a great Valentine's Day!

DiamondDaisy said...

Oh wow.... I so love to entertain, but I have yet to amass any kind of set up like you have. I am pea green with envy! I love the tablecloths.. I even have the perfect closet to put them in. Personally, I like the tablecloth you already have because it adds a nice contrast. The other would have been too much red.

As for the wax, my favorite is the Undo Wax remover. UNDO makes a great sticker remover for scrapbooking and they also have a candle wax remover! Always gets the job done here! Happy V Day!

Connie said...

Happy Valentine's Day! Gotta go set my table! Connie

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hey, Sandy, what a beautiful table. I think you're right, as we get older we lose a lot of the perfectionism. I know I have! I could care less that things are magazine perfect. Your guests will love your tablescape. So pretty & Valentiny!

And yes, the paper bag & iron method will get a lot of that wax up. I've used that a number of times.

Hugs, friend!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

I love it and I love your closet of tablecloths even more....wow! I have been having problems leaving comments, but wanted to know that I just love connecting now that I can read this and just picture you doing it IRL. :) So special.

Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

You know, if I was to be perfectly honest, I think I do get caught up in trying to make everything perfect. It never works, of course. I have three children under 5 and under. It just isn't going to happen. And I have gotten a lot better about the perfection aspect - I think it was always that I wanted my guests to have such a good time, I wanted it so badly, that I felt if everything was perfect then they surely would enjoy themselves.

Silly, huh.

I have always wondered about place mats - if one HAD to use them. When I saw that you didn't it was a relief! :) I don't have any but I wondered if I was setting the table incorrectly without them.

I hope the meal and fellowship was wonderful!


CandiceM said...

I have major problems with this! It's such a struggle for me- I want things to be PERFECT and for everyone to think that I am martha stewart... I'm trying to remember that that's NOT what counts- it's the hospitality and fellowship that counts.

Betts said...

I love your array of tablecloths. You should give us a pictorial tour of all your hospitality "props" (dishes, vases, etc.).

Melted wax? I would scrape as much off the wall as you can. I know I've heard about ironing to remove wax, but I was thinking the base was wax paper. I'm not sure though.

Wendy said...

I have recently "found" you and I love your blog. I love the way you have your tablecloths hanging. I am going to do just that as soon as I finish typing this comment! You are an inspiration! I don't need things to be perfect anymore...crossing the 40 year mark was liberating in so many ways! I am at peace with myself and I like myself (and I can accept the faults). Thanks for sharing and for inspiring!!!

An Accomplished Woman said...

What a pretty table and how fast are you. Your ideas are lovely as you are.

Chelle said...

At last... my lo-o-ove has come along...
why have I never found your blog before!? I'm in love with it ALL!

robinrane said...

How did I miss this! I love the pictures of the process. It turned out beautiful and you were relaxed! YEA!

Angie said...

I have always wanted to buy that cake at costco and I never have :( It's my dream cake! I'm determined to have it at my birthday this year, even if I have to throw myself a party to get it!

JoDraven03@hotmail.com said...

Happy Mother's Day, Sandy!

Just wanted to say that I had never thought of storing my tablecloths on hangers. Great idea!

And, I just wanted to ask if you remember where you got your napkin hutch.

Thanks so much for a great blog. You and your lovely family and a daily inspiration =0)