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A tablescape perfectly set. You give a happy sigh. You pin it. You repeat this several more times as you enter the Pin Zone. Before you know it, it’s past midnight and the dog is pacing by the backdoor, waiting to be let out.

The Pin Zone. A dangerous time drain yet incredibly helpful. I’ve found ideas to pinpoint – no pun intended – a vision for an event. It’s also amazing when a client tells me, “I was hoping for something like this” and shows me a picture on a Pinterest board.

Of course, sometimes, I have to go through a client’s board and, like a game of Jenga, carefully pull out pieces hoping the idea doesn’t collapse. Every picture is important; it’s just a matter of fine tuning the board to better understand the creative vision. To share the event’s story.

For other clients, they want a creative jumping point. After discussing the event with them, I’ll create a board to help start the creative process, hoping a few ideas will spark the inspiration to build the event upon.

Recently I was asked to help with a creative concept for an 80th birthday party. The family wanted a blueprint to go about the planning, decorating and executing the party itself. After talking with them, I created a Pinterest board for the party, offering a jumping point with some simple how-to’s. The family was able to view the board and tailor the ideas to best fit their event. Here’s one that helped spark the creative process:

With this in mind, we focused on a burlap runner, battery-operated candles and large mason jars filled with fresh flowers from the farmers’ market. The party was also very family focused, so instead of dividing the tables up, they were placed end-to-end to create one long, communal-style table. I was quite pleased with their final outcome:

A few pointers when taking a Pinterest image to reality:

1) Make a budget and stick to it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a few friends coming over for casual brunch or a dinner reception for 400 guests, keep track of your expenses so you don’t bust your budget on decor, leaving nothing for another element, like food and beverages. Also, scour your cabinets and closets for items that could be repurposed, but in doing so… (read on)

2) Know your time constraints. This might be the most important part of any event DIY element. At times repurposing items can also be more costly in time and/or materials than starting from scratch with new materials. It’s also important to remember what you see in the picture might have taken a team many, nay, several hours prepping in a work space before arriving on-site to set-up. Once on-site, there’s a good chance a team followed a specific task list, finely orchestrated by the planner, so it was completed with plenty of time for pictures before guests arrived (or it might have been styled for a photo-shoot). And speaking of time…

3) Take the time to test it out. Take more than a moment to look at your inspiration. Study it, draw your plan out, and test it before attempting it on-site. It’s important to know how long it will take to assemble one decor element, especially if there are 50 more needing to go through the same process. Also, know your power sources and check in advance to make sure they work (and bring extra long extension cords).

4) Tailor it to suit your event. Don’t be discouraged if you see a picture of a table beautifully set under a flowering arbor next to a serene pond and your party is taking place in the middle of noisy neighborhood with no arbor in sight. Be realistic – yet optimistic – about the elements you love in the image and make it your own. (It also helps if you make notes in the image’s comment box when you pin so you don’t end up wondering what you liked about it later on.) If you like the paper lanterns hanging from the arbor and the use of colors on the table, get creative in how to accomplish it at your event.

Take a deep breath and remember that happy sigh when you first pinned the image. Just remember to stick to the budget, respect your time constraints, test the ideas in advance, and tailor it to your needs. And a little elbow grease never hurts.

Have a Pinterest image you want to bring to reality at your next event? Trying to figure out how to accomplish it? Maybe you found inspiration in a pattern and want to translate it to your tablescape? Please share it in the comment section below – just be sure to include your event’s date and a link to the image on your Pinterest board. I might just use it for a future Pin Zone post and you could end up with the final product at your event!

{all post images can be found on the 80th Birthday Celebration board with links to: Martha Stewart, Verve Photo Co. on Wedding Chics, Sparrow Soirées}