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Diner en Blanc Dallas and Southwest Airlines Sweepstakes

Diner en Blanc Dallas and Southwest Airlines Sweepstakes

Diner en Blanc Dallas Recap and travel tips from shannonqualls.com

(Just really quick, if you want to see pictures from Diner en Blanc ABQ 2015, click here. There are also some additional tips in this post. Event photos and tips and tricks from 2014 can be found here.  But if you want everything in one place, make sure to check out my book. I’ve also complied a list of Amazon.com links for everything you might need for Diner en Blanc for those that don’t like to spend all day shopping.).

Oh my gosh you guys. If you follow me on any of my social media channels, then you already know this. But if you don’t, then a. please do! We have tons of pictures and tips we share (especially on IG) and b. then you are in for a surprise!

This year I got to attend not one, but two (yes, you read that right, TWO) Diner en Blanc’s! Southwest Airlines was a diamond level sponsor of this years Diner en Blanc Dallas and as such, hosted a sweepstakes for one lucky winner and guest. I’ll give you one guess for who the winner was…

That’s right friends! I was the lucky recipient of an overnight stay in Dallas including airfare, hotel and tickets to DEB Dalles. Whoop! It was a GOOD day when I saw the tweet. I may or may not have busted out some incredibly dorky dance moves…you know, like you do. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same thing…we all know you would.

Southwest HQ from shannonqualls.com

Anyway, after replying to the tweet and verifying that I was, in fact, who I said I was, I had to fill out a 1099 (yup, be sure and pay your taxes people!) and some other forms that also confirmed I am who I say I am. Once that was done, the fabulous team at Southwest worked on getting my flights set up and my hotel secured. It was a relatively painless process. The only thing that made it even remotely bananas was I found out the day before DEB Albuquerque, which meant I was trying to reply to emails, take care of my families needs AND finish pulling together last minute things for DEB ABQ. It was INSANE. The Southwest team was fantastic though and SO patient with me. Thank you Derek H., Tena G., Kelsey B. and Alyssa E.! I appreciate everything you did to make our experience awesome.

SWA headquarters from shannonqualls.com

Since there wasn’t much turn around time between DEB ABQ and DEB Dallas, we had to figure out stuff quickly. Typically for DEB you have to bring EVERYTHING with you. Your table, chairs, decor, food (if you don’t order catering), etc. You can read more about what you need to pack and tips and tricks for Diner en Blanc in my ebook and on these blog posts (DEB 2014, DEB2015, DEB2016). But since we won the trip we didn’t know if we were going to need to bring everything and order food/etc. or if Southwest was covering all of that. One quick email later, we had our answer. We would be sitting as guests at the Southwest table and wouldn’t need to bring anything besides any extra drinks we might want (non-alcoholic), our white outfits, and of course, a great attitude (they didn’t tell me I needed to bring that, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt ;).)

DEB bag for Dallas from shannonqualls.com

With the weight of not needing to bring extra things off our shoulders, we were able to plan accordingly. (Don’t worry! I still have tips for traveling for DEB! I’m just letting you know we didn’t actually have to bring anything so while we technically didn’t have a table to set up, I still thought about this a lot.) I’ve mentioned before in previous blog posts, but I think it bears repeating. I’m a little crazy and sometimes go a little nuts when it comes to table decor. I like to do it and it’s a way to stand out a little and a GREAT conversation starter. Since we didn’t have that for DEB Dallas, we decided to find other ways to stand out.

Awesome Hotel Room Southwest set us up in from shannonqualls.com

Ways to stand out at DEB (if you aren’t doing a crazy table):

  1. Your outfit- You guys, there was amazing fashion in Dallas! I’ve included a few photos below for you to enjoy.
  2. Find something uniquely YOU and add it as an aside
  3. After dark wear/gifts
    Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com
I loved this mask and this gal had such a beautiful smile I had to put her on the blog.

Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com
Of course there was an obligatory cowboy hat. Surprisingly it was only one of two we saw that evening!

Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas fashion from shannonqualls.com
Can you guess where she got her inspiration? SO fab.

So this year in Albuquerque, we had a few people come by our table and give us small gifts. I was utterly confounded by this, until I realized (after thinking on it, since they didn’t give us any information besides an, “I like your table”) that it was a way for them to offer something to people to say they appreciated what they did (at least that’s what I assume they were doing). We were given some lifesaver candies and some of those mini wedding bubble tubes.

It was cool. Like, “here’s a little swag.” Well, since we didn’t have to lug anything around for Dallas, we thought it would be cool to get some swag of our own for the event. I ordered white glow sticks (we actually gave these to the Southwest table to say, “thank you”), light up rings (that were supposed to be white but ended up being color changing…I wasn’t happy but nothing could be done and I honestly hate returning stuff to Amazon), and light up bracelets. I also picked up a pair of LED glasses for Greg and as a way to mix things up a bit (inspired by our ABQ bus leader) and had some fairy lights added to my skirt, because, why not?

After Dark wear at Diner en Blanc Dallas from shannonqualls.com

After Dark wear at Diner en Blanc Dallas from shannonqualls.com

After Dark wear at Diner en Blanc Dallas from shannonqualls.com
She was a contortionist and her outfit glowed!
DEB bag for Dallas from shannonqualls.com
We put all of our goodies in here to hand out. Rep-ing the 505.

In addition to that, we also picked up a light box and created a signature piece that we added to our table (that wouldn’t take away from what was already on the table or get in peoples way).

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com
Pro Tip: If you use a light box, use a USB charger and not batteries. It will last longer.

During the Night

There are a few aspects of Diner en Blanc that are virtually universal. 1. Everyone wears white (and everything they bring is white). 2. The napkin wave to signify the beginning of dinner. 3. Sparklers to end the dinner portion (sometimes this is prohibited depending on where you are). and 4. Dancing. Of course there is eating and drinking and meeting new people, and having a ton of fun as well.

Our dinner didn’t vary much from the formula above. The biggest difference was that since we didn’t have to set up our table and trek things in, we had a little more free time to go look at the tables around the event space, interact with more people then usual, and hand out our swag.

Swag Bag from Southwest for the Diner en Blanc Dallas SW bus from shannonqualls.com
Swag Bag from Southwest for the Diner en Blanc Dallas SW bus from shannonqualls.com

I was really impressed with the showing in Dallas in both their fashion and their table designs. It was so fun to see what people from another city came up with. I saw headdresses, beautiful dresses, top notch hats, and lots of smiles. Arbors and high centerpieces were fairly common and I saw some pretty incredible programming on one piece that had- I kid you not- flashes of lightning programmed into a cloud. It was pretty sick and gave me some new inspiration for next year (muh-ha-ha…on a side note, I think Greg might kill me if I make him complete these plans…but you know…lol).

Apothic wine for Diner en Blanc Dallas from shannonqualls.com Dinner started with the napkin wave. That was really fun because Southwest provided custom napkins for every guest. The dinner that was catered was really good and served in these adorable bento boxes. The hummus might have been the best hummus I’ve ever had in my life. My only complaint might have been that I wish there had been more to eat. 😉
We drank Apothic wine that we opened with the wine opener supplied to every attendee by Mercedes Benz.

Diner en Blanc Dallas food and bento boxes from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas food and bento boxes from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas food and bento boxes from shannonqualls.com

After dinner we walked through the crowd of tables meeting people, talking with them and offering swag to tables/people along the way. That was also super fun. I had my cards with me that we also handed out.

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com
Hot air balloons. I figured it was a little bit of Albuquerque love.

 

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com
The cloud had lightning that flashed!!! So stinking cool.

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com
This was a sponsor table.

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com

Diner en Blanc Dallas table decor from shannonqualls.com

One thing I really liked that Dallas did was have contests for things like, “best dressed table”, “Beau and Belle”, things like that. The winners went home with gift baskets from the sponsors. I thought it was a pretty fun way to acknowledge some of the people who really worked to stand out in a sea of white (and honestly, who doesn’t love winning stuff?)

Best Dressed Table from Diner en Blanc Dallas from shannonqualls.com

Best Dressed Table from Diner en Blanc Dallas from shannonqualls.com

Once we were virtually out of swag we made our way to the dance floor before heading out to meet Cheyse (ig @chaysendreams) to get a photo and say hi. Seriously though, this girl was the coolest. I’m pretty sure if we lived in the same city we would be friends. We hugged, laughed, talked for a bit and got a few photos together before we went back to the dance floor. Time flew and we finished the night with a fireworks show before meeting the rest of our bus back at the table and following the amazing glowing sign out to the bus. (You can see my photo with her above in the outfit inspired by the Never-ending Story.

I also want to note, our tablemates (and all of the Southwest people really) were SO sweet and super fun to talk to. Matt and Sheli, thanks for making the evening memorable and for the ride back to the hotel! It was more fun then waiting for the shuttle. You guys are aces.

Southwest table for Diner en Blanc Dallas from shannonqualls.com

Southwest table for Diner en Blanc Dallas from shannonqualls.com

Southwest table for Diner en Blanc Dallas from shannonqualls.com

Tips for traveling for Diner en Blanc

  1. Travel on Southwest. No joke. And not just because I won a trip from them. Unless you are heading to a city where you can buy/mail/ship or rent your table and chairs for the event (and want to pay extra for something you may already have), then the two free checked bags can make things beautiful for you. Greg and I were able to fit everything we needed into one bag since it was a short trip, but if we had needed to take everything with us you better believe we were going to cash in on the free checked baggage.
  2. Only take the essentials. You really don’t want to have to deal with lugging all kinds of accessories with you. Just go and enjoy yourself. Save the fancy set-ups for when you are on your home turf.
  3. Order your food from the caterer. Unless you want to pick something up, it will just make things easier for you to order from the caterer beforehand.
  4. Pack a collapsible (soft sided) insulated bag and pack extra water. I can’t stress this enough. That’s one thing I wish we had planned better for. Southwest was gracious enough to provide water for us in our complimentary snack bags, but I’m a camel and should have known better to pack more for myself. I was dying by the end of the night). Our bus leader did have water for us to drink before leaving, but I still needed more… 😉
  5. Pack an outfit that won’t crease easily. You can still pack something stylish, but if you don’t want to worry about having to iron something, it’s better to take something that will travel well.

Anyway, if you end up traveling or heading to Dallas for en Blanc, I’d love to know about your experience or any tips I may have forgotten!

Don’t forget to check out the shop where we list tons of things you might want/need for DEB!