I know what you’re thinking.
How the heck can this girl have MORE to say about Diner en Blanc? She’s already written a handful of blog posts and an e-book. What else is there to say? And to you I would say, there is always more! That’s the beauty of the event. There is always something new, something different, something awesome to share. It’s my joy and privilege to extend that knowledge to you, sweet reader, because I KNOW how overwhelming the event can be. I know what it’s like to try and figure things out, wondering if I’m going to inadvertently break a rule or feel completely out of place in a new and possibly uncomfortable environment (because new things are scary, right?). I get it. And I want to help you (and if I’m being totally honest, I really love sharing the eye candy from the event, because it’s beautiful.)
Now, before I get carried away with the deets for the evening, if you’re looking for a comprehensive list of what to expect, you can check out my ebook here. I also have a shorter (but still long!), blog post here. There are also some tips and ideas here, here and here.
To get started, let me tell you how I did things a little differently this year.
- I was a BUS LEADER!! Yes, my friends, this year I decided to step up and volunteer and learn something new so I would have MORE to share with you all. It was a blast (albeit slightly stressful because I am still a crazy person who likes to go big on my table. For a normal person volunteering to be a bus leader, it won’t be that crazy…and my website was hacked a week before the event so we were dealing with that…joy. Do you hear the sarcasm all the way over there?) Anyway, while I missed my Cool Bus peeps, I found new peeps on the “Q” Bus (see what I did there?).
2. We changed our table design and didn’t use an arbor this year. We still went high (really high!) but I had a harebrained idea like 12 days before the event and jumped on it. Because Pan. Enough said.
3. I tried some new products from a great little company called White Appeal. More about that to come, but let’s just say I’m pretty excited to share some of the items they sent me to try out. They were pretty cool and will definitely be making a reappearance at future en Blanc’s! (Affiliate links are used throughout this post,. In the event you make a purchase after clicking one of my links, I get paid a small commission from the order. It’s no extra cost to you, but rules say I have ta tell you about it, and as you know, I prefer to play by the rules. 😉
So here’s the thing. When you volunteer, things are different, but not SO different. You still have to pack your table, find an awesome outfit, pack or buy your food and do all of the prep work beforehand, there’s just a little more that goes along with it. Keep an eye out for a new blog post on how to be a kickin’ bus/table leader, but for now, know that it was awesome and I totally want to do it again.
Okay, so this years Diner en Blanc Albuquerque (DEB from here on out- get hip with the lingo people!) was AWESOME. I feel like I say that every year, but it’s true. Sorry ya’ll, but it is seriously one of my very favorite events of the year. Ranks up there with Christmas and the Pumpkin Patch. High praise indeed.
This year we had a couple of places in mind where the secret location might be based on some of the clues the hosts were dropping, and while we had the general vicinity correct, we didn’t have the exact location down. This years location was completely out of the box and was pretty amazing.
What’s really interesting to me about this year’s event was that the secret location was pretty unique and different. Unfortunately, there were a few people who didn’t see it for what it was- a beautiful view of the mountains, lost of space for dancing, mingling and a killer sunset. I feel like this year our hosts really embraced the natural beauty of New Mexico, highlighting those features. To the naysayers, please, by all means, volunteer or host if you don’t like how something is done.
So where was Diner en Blanc Albuquerque in 2017?
The 4th floor of the parking garage at Sandia Resort and Casino. It may sound weird you guys, but it was really cool. And the professional pictures REALLY show that. Case in point…
Like, seriously. Gorg. Can I get an amen?!
Here’s the thing about Diner en Blanc. It’s about highlighting the beauty of your city and creating community, the location is a backdrop for the awesomeness, not the main event. And I think our hosts nailed it.
So we started the evening getting to our meet up location super early to make sure we had time to take out everything for our bus peeps and our table stuff. Better safe then sorry right? (Also, just a quick note- I spent most of the day getting my hair and nails done for the first time EVER instead of doing them on my own. I liked that I had one less thing to worry about, but making sure I was good on time was a little tricky. Luckily we had packed everything the night before so that helped with everything! Pack ahead people! That’s the moral of the story).
Okay, so not all bus leaders will do this (and it’s definitely NOT required), but our bus leader in Dallas did (what? did she just say Dallas? Yes my friends, I did. We won a trip from Southwest Airlines last year and it was a BLAST. You can read about it here.) and I loved it so much I adopted it. Because who doesn’t like a little VIP treatment? So after checking in with my Group leader (hi Mika Lou!) and finding out where our bus would be (we actually unloaded in the perfect spot. High five!), we set up our drink stand and waited for our guests to arrive. In true DEB fashion, it was very much a hurry up and wait event. We hurried to get there, waited for people to show up, hurried the last of our guests onto the bus and left for the event. But in the between times, there was this:
Our theme this year was Peter Pan and we pulled it through everything. From the letter board we had guests pose with, to our outfits and our table, we really embraced our theme this year. (And it’s sort of how I convinced Greg to do something new when we had the arbor already. Thanks babe!)
After loading everyone onto the bus and checking them all in, I went through a list of things they needed to know, did a little giveaway from my “leader bag” and we arrived at our venue (more on that in the bus leader post).
They warned us this year that a rolling cart would be helpful and comfortable shoes were a must. So we borrowed my mom’s wagon, and I gotta tell you guys, next season when these are on sale again at Costco, one is coming home with me because it was pretty epic. Really SO helpful. I think Greg liked it a lot too. If you don’t want to wait for Costco, you can find them here.
So we hiked up a hill to the top of the parking structure and were directed by our beautiful hosts to our table line. I cannot TELL you how amazing it was to see their smiling faces as we walked up. There was so much joy in those smiles (and maybe a little bit of exhaustion). Standing at the top of the hill was one of the “wow” factors of the evening, a drum line. Gotta tell you, I loved that. It was a brilliant entrance.
We found our designated line and I had our guests set up. Because our location was more spacious then in previous years, we didn’t have to be tightly packed in and were able to leave a small “pass through” for guests to navigate through a little easier.
Our guests set up their tables and I went to help with mine (do you see a bit how this might be a little difficult if you are crazy like me and have a crazy table plus bus/line leader responsibilities?). I’m super thankful to our tablemates and amazing husband for getting it rolling and setting things up.
After set up, we were able to get some shots of our table and our line while we waited for the next wave of arrivals. The napkin twirl happened at 7 and was lovely (and this year I remembered to get a photo, but it was blurry so we are using the one Greg took for this post). Dinner and some conversation followed before I left to walk around and look at other tables and get some shots. In addition to those shots, I also picked up our tables sparklers and dropped them off to each guest so they would be prepared for that portion of the evening. The band was great and I really enjoyed listening to their music.
Okay, so here I need to add a little note. White Appeal sent me some product to try out at this years event, and you guys, I COULD NOT have been happier. They sent me this amazing bag that we packed all of our food and water in (since we can’t bring outside alcohol in). I didn’t have enough time to freeze their ice packs (my fault entirely, I delayed in communications with them), so I used some of ours. My water was still cold (not icy, but cool) by the end of the night, thank you very much. That’s a BIG deal to me, because I DO NOT like warm water. So yeah…keep an eye out because I will have another post devoted entirely to the other stuff they sent my way, but know I was super pleased. (Bonus points that since it was white I could keep it out and easily access our food! See:below.)
(Also, I just want to note here, that if you make any purchases through my links to their product/site, I get a small percentage of paid to me. While they sent me their product, I wasn’t paid to review it and all opinions are my own. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t tell ya about it.)
To end the dinner portion of the night was another “wow” factor, a contemporary dance from the NM Ballet Company. They did a beautiful job and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them. The end of the dance began the lighting of the sparklers followed by the dance parties!
So I will tell you, one of the tips I gave the guests on my bus was to get Photo Booth pictures EARLY. NO kidding, in the 5 DEB’s I’ve attended, this was the first that I’ve actually gotten my picture done in because we always wait until it’s too late (thinking the line is way too long). This year, we went EARLY and got them done. YES! Score!
The dancing was awesome, but then there was this goodness.
Yes, this was an interactive projection screen which was the third “wow” factor for the night. It was legit. I loved it and had so much fun.
Other things I really liked? There was so much space. In a lot of ways I didn’t feel like I had enough time to do everything and see everyone.
Our hosts outdid themselves again this year and I’m so thankful for their hard work, time and efforts. Thank you to Cat, David, Taylor and the newly minted host Sarah for a truly magical evening.
Don’t forget to come back in a few weeks. I have more posts coming! Between editing pictures, writing posts and life in general I haven’t had time to get them all hammered out, but they will be coming soon! Also, I took lots of pictures of tables and fashion but they will have to wait for the next posts because this one is already out of hand.
I hope you all are having a great day!
PS- I loved being a bus leader for multiple reasons, but it was super fun to have friends on my bus and I could not have asked for a better group leader.
PPS- I forgot to tell you about the after dark light up stuff! A post will be coming about that, but until then, I’ll leave you with this:
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