Last week was â€œkid overdoseâ€ weekâ€¦ Tuesday we had Parent Teacher Conferences, Wednesday I had to look â€œinstitutionalâ€ and hand out diplomas to a graduating 8th grade class, Thursday my daughter had her own â€œmoving onâ€ ceremony to mark her entry into Middle School, Friday we hosted a luncheon for 80 school faculty and staffâ€¦and the LP8 post on cooking with kids was also due. Good thing I knew about all of this way in advance so I had cleared the decks and was ready to focus on kidâ€™s week 2006. As I have mentioned in posts before, I was involved in the setting up of a small non-profit elementary school that now has over 300 students. I continue to serve on its Board of Trustees and am proud to say that it is without doubt, the finest and most rewarding thing I have ever done in my professional life.
As part of my involvement with this school, my sense of obsessive compulsiveness and Type-A behavior (along with other OC trustees) inevitably emerges at school events though much less so now that the school has gotten quite large. For the graduation ceremonies, I was asked to make two floral arrangements for the stage with the request that it be predominantly blue and green in color. Hmmm, not so easy the blue theme requested. In addition, because my daughter was having a milestone of her own, my wife and I volunteered to take care of the reception following her Thursday eventâ€¦that meant food, drinks and flowers for roughly 150-180 people. It all seemed reasonable until you got to the nitty grittyâ€¦ But what I like about these consecutive events is that a smart planner gets to use and re-use the flowers and get the most out of the expendituresâ€¦
First, there were the flowers. I decided to do two large mixed arrangements that would flank the school trophy that would be displayed stage center. I scoured Manila suppliers and ordered bluish hydrangeas from King Louis Farms, Inc. I also ordered 30 plants of greenish hydrangeas from a suki at FTI. I went to Puentespina flowers and ordered bluish/purple lisianthus and some long stemmed white dendrobium orchids. Then on Tuesday evening I headed to Dimasalang flower market to purchase 20 dozen white roses, lots of tuberoses or azucena, a few stems of white Casablanca lilies, and some spindly long blue flowers that I donâ€™t know the name off. I conditioned all of these in fresh water and placed them in my daughterâ€™s room overnight with low airconditioning. She said it smelled like a wake was in progress. Actually, the hardest part of doing these events is the UNCERTAINTY of supply and thus I tend to seriously overbuy to make up for any shorfalls as I go along.
To match the silver school trophy, I used two silver plated wine buckets as the base. Filled those with oasis or floral foam then added 3 stems of white Casablanca lilies, about 8 stems of tuberoses and 3 large blue hydrangeas. I added one large greenish hydrangea at the front center. Then I added about 15-18 long stemmed white roses, lots of bluish lisianthus for filler and white dendrobiums to balance it all out. It only took 15 minutes to make each arrangement. It was just a pain in the neck to assemble all of the different materials. I also axed some things along the way like these large Martian looking balls that are green and hairy and bunched on long stemsâ€¦ Frankly, the arrangements came out far better than I expected. Just the right height, size and pizzazz for the event at hand. From a distance, they looked sufficiently regal and impressive, up close they screamed serious flower content. After the graduation event, several families took their photos with the arrangements in the backdropâ€¦super sulit is all I can say!
The next morning my daughter had her ceremony on the same stage. We freshened up the arrangements by changing some of the hydrangeas but surprisingly they held up really well. To complement these arrangements I put 16 potted green hydrangeas wrapped with dark blue crepe paper on the tables. I also put several arrangements still following the blue, green and white color scheme for the reception on buffet tables with blue linen tablecloths. These included clear glass vases with huge clumps of white orchids, blue hydrangeas, green hydrangeas, blue lisianthus and lots of white roses. For food we prepared 400 mini-pan de sals with different palamansâ€¦inspired by an earlier post and all of my readersâ€™ responsesâ€¦corned beef, crispy adobo, cheese pimiento, egg salad, tuna salad, ham, butter and guava jelly, etc. We also had a sweets table with butter cake, fruit cake, carrot cake, banana cake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and mini gala apples, green Macintosh apples and some really sweet seedless red grapes. Butter cake was from Vargas, carrot and banana cakes from Blue Kitchen.
A special table for the kids had a chocolate fondue set up with fresh strawberries from Edwin at Fresh Fields, bananas and bulk marshmallows (purchased at Cookâ€™s Exchange). These were already on bamboo barbecue sticks and all lined up for the kids. Instead of a really pricey chocolate mixture I decided to go cheap but was incredibly surprised with the results. Because there was no heating element nearby, I brought a large ceramic bowl, emptied the contents of two hersheyâ€™s chocolate sauce containers into it. Added 3 chopped up large bars of hersheyâ€™s milk chocolate and microwaved it in the teacherâ€™s lounge until melted. Stir it all up to make it smooth and voila, fondue dip that is delicious but doesnâ€™t solidify when it gets cool. Along with the fondue table was another hit, plastic champagne flutes dragged back from the States by a dedicated friend who had to hand-carry the things lest they crack in her maletas. Each kid who â€œgraduatedâ€ got a glass with their name on it and in my copper fish pot I put 10 bottles of Welchâ€™s sparkling white grape juice (champagne) which was on sale at Rustanâ€™s at PHP149 a bottle. The kids LOVED it and consumed so much â€œchampagneâ€ we were worried they couldnâ€™t drive homeâ€¦
I also had specially made cupcakes with the school crest on it and those turned out really, really niceâ€¦from Artcakes in Glorietta. Each kid was supposed to have one together with their â€œchampagneâ€ but I noticed some kids taking a few â€œextrasâ€â€¦ For drinks we set up a mini-bar and had orange juice, grapefruit juice, sparkling water and some sodas. Paper plates and napkinsâ€¦it was a school event in an auditorium lobby, after all. And just in case I am about to get slammed with more â€œoh isnâ€™t that extravagantâ€ barbs, the whole reception excluding flowers (which I donated) came out to just PHP800 per kid and they were allowed to bring up to five guests each. Including kids, teachers, guests, etc., the total expenses were just roughly PHP150 per person. I recently attended another graduation where they had very reasonably priced caterers and they paid about PHP350 per person for an evening cocktail that only had pica-pica and iced tea and lemonadeâ€¦ so it does make sense to do it on your own if you can manage to mobilize, mobilize, mobilizeâ€¦
Finally, it is important to point out that the flowers can and should be re-used. Following the second use at my daughterâ€™s ceremony, the flowers were used at the staff luncheon the next day. I also took some of the arrangements home and re-arranged them in the silver bucket, group them by type of flower in crystal vases and finally, on their last day or two, cut them back severely and floated them in glass bowls filled with water. All in all, the flowers lasted about 6 days and were used in several iterations! Phew. What a week. No wonder my LP8 entry was late! Oh, the first photo above is just an altered picture of the lisianthus in the crystal vase… And wait till you read what was in store for me on April Foolâ€™s Day! Congratulations to all those kids that graduated recently!!!