Tag Archives: Manzanita Centerpieces

Teacher Retirement Centerpieces

6 Jun

After the pots and branches were set (instructions on how-to visit original Manzanita Madness post) it was time to decorate!  I needed something that would add color to my centerpieces, fit into my theme, and be the right scale for the branches and pot.  I happened across some school themed scrapbook paper I found on sale ($9.99 for 100 sheets!).  The sheets had multiple different patterns, sparkles, and colors– just perfect for the party, but I still had to figure out what I would use it for.  Then it hit me!  What screams school and teachers more than paper airplanes!  And, to top it off, the cost would be less than a penny for each plane!

How To

Perfect Paper Airplanes

I first used plain computer paper to figure out the size I wanted on the trees.  I went with about 4 inches by 7 inches.  I got four planes per 12 inch by 12 inch scrapbook paper (I eyeballed the measurement to make them all fit– three in one direction, one on the leftover top part).  Then I took a metal ruler and began folding the planes.  First I folded in half, then folded the sides in once, then again (to get a good point and a slimmer plane), then brought the two sides together and folded down from the middle.  Or click here for a pictorial tutorial.  I had purchased some yarn ($1.29 for a ton of yarn at Wal-mart) and cut lengths of about 5 inches and tied them into loops.  I placed the knotted side into the middle of the planes and then stapled them together.  I then tried to place one of each pattern on each centerpiece to get a lot of color for not a lot of cash!

Gingham Placemat

I thought gingham would be a good compliment to a teacher retirement party.  I purchased 4 yards and cut the squares roughly about 2′-0″ x 2′-0″.  I used a roller cutter on a cutting board.  I noticed I had some frayed edges and decided I needed to finish it off.  I had some wired red ribbon about 2 inches thick.  I used regular Elmer’s white glue to glue on the ribbon to the edges of the fabric along two sides.  If needed, I went through and “hemmed” with the white glue on the other edges.  The ribbon added some weight to the mats and made them see more expensive.  I sprinkled colored buttons around like confetti on the placemat due to our guest of honor being a home economics teacher.  I used the placemats also on the memorabilia table.

Mini Blackboard Table Cards

The table cards were made from black foam core that was cut in order to be able to use wooden tongue depressors.  I cut them about 4″ x 6″ (approximately).  I used hot glue to adhere the wooden sticks to the foam core.  I used scissors to cut blunt edges on the depressors.  Next, I used my Cricut to cut the letters for the mini blackboards.  Then I used a coordinating ribbon from my gingham placement (same ribbon just in a 1/2 inch size).  I used green floral sticks with metal wires attached to wrap around the ribbon and shove into my foam (worked really well and held them even during transport!).  I covered the area with an apple– it didn’t need it since the moss covered everything, but I liked the shiny apple at each table.  My table names went along with my theme and were based on stereotypical school cliques.  The tables were the:

  • Drama Queens
  • Bullies
  • Nerds
  • In-Crowd
  • Cheerleaders
  • Jocks
  • Outcasts
  • Preps
  • Misfits
  • Honor Students
  • Teacher’s Pets

 The guest of honor had a seat saved with a blackboard saying, “Saved for teacher” and had a matching red ribbon bow in the back of the chair that matched the gingham placemats.

Moss & Pencils

As I mentioned in my post Guest Book with a Twist, I instructed the guests to actually engage with the centerpiece by using little yellow golf pencils that were placed in the green moss.  They were to look like they were part of the theme only, but were actually functional for filling out the guest book and also for the surprise pop quiz (as mentioned in  Teacher Retirement Party Activities post) that was given.  We bought the pencils for cheap at an office supply store and sharpened them up a bit before placing them out.

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Manzanita Madness!

17 Apr

Placing a centerpiece on a big table can be daunting– What size?  How tall?  How many??  I took to my google search skills and found Manzanita branch centerpiece.  The branches offered height and a bit of mystique, and still allowed guests to see through the piece to converse.    This was my answer to all my questions…

Manzanita madness, I have it.

After a little research, I ordered from Nettleton Hollow, but also looked at Save-on-Crafts.  Both have great options, different sizes, and color options.  I decided on the 24″ – 36″ sized branches because my tables are approximately 8′ diameter and seat about 8-10 people.  The cost per branch was about $10 after shipping costs and everything added.

Deciding on how large of branch, I decided I needed something that would be substantial enough to fill the space, and not be overpowering.  Blooms and Branches had a handy guide to measuring Manzanita branches that might help in your selection:

After the huge box arrived, I carefully lifted each piece out– they tend to get caught together, so be careful!!  Being a natural product, each branch is unique and has its own quirks.  Best part is that you can trim whatever does not agree with you.

I decided on Terra Cotta pots because the price ($1.47/pot) and the availability of sizes.  I spray painted them white (first with a cheaper spray paint that I used as a primer, and then with a more expensive gloss spray paint) to match the decor of the party.

Now time for the creation!  I bought stones from the store to set in the bottom of the pots to add some leverage against tipping over.  If using the clay pots and painting them, you need to make sure the rocks are dry or the it will make your paint bubble.

Next I put duct tape to plug the hole at the bottom of the pots.  I shoveled in the rocks (a little at first, placed the branch to secure, then added more rocks on top).

Then I had the options of how to set the Manzanita branches in the pots.  One is to use plaster of paris, but after finding out that one little package is about $8, I needed a better option when I was making 12!  Also, the prep and time involved in mixing plaster, pouring, and setting it was a little daunting.  I decided on expanding foam (about $3.50/can).  For all 12 centerpieces, I used only 3 cans (mostly because I over did it– probably could have used only 2 cans if I did not have such a heavy hand).  Also, follow the directions on the can about safety and precautions– this stuff is sticky and most likely only be removed with acetone (nail polish remover).

Example of my bit of over spraying is below.  The can said the foam will double in size, I would say in my conditions in my garage (approximately 80 deg, 80% humidity), I got about 40% expansion.

I sprayed the foam in and around the rocks and around the base of the branch by pushing the spray can straw down into the rock layers.

The product sets up in less than 8 hours, and then we were able to cut away the excess from my heavy handedness.  I trimmed it with a plastic knife and made it slightly below the rim of the pot.  The foam cuts extremely easy, and since I would be covering the foam, I sometimes ripped off what I did not want.

After all the pots were trimmed, I put some store-bought green moss to cover the foam.  I lightly placed some hot glue around on the foam to secure the moss for travel.

And  that is it!  Beautiful (and easy) centerpieces that are ready to be decorated!

After all this, I wanted to see how secure the branches were, so I brazenly picked up the whole thing by only the branch– the branch didn’t move, didn’t wiggle, didn’t budge.  I was suprised at the strength of the hold considering it was holding the weight of the 8″ Terracotta pot,  2-3 pounds of rocks, moss, foam, and the branch itself.  I would not recommend throwing them around the room like that, but good to know that this branch is very secure and can withstand a lot of top heavy decorations.

Here are the Manzanita branches decorated for the school themed retirement party.  I put paper air planes and pencils in the moss with an apple and the table name.