We originally agreed to join a friend for Orange County's inaugural Diner en Blanc. Annually held in over 70 cities in 25 countries, this sort of flash mob dining club had made its way to OC. But after stressing about bringing our own furniture, linens, and food, we were whining to her, "What exactly are we paying for again?" (The simple answer is transportation). Well, we went through with it, even with a chance of rain looming over the event. Here are a few random things we learned along the way, in case you want to join the other 900+ party people next year.
At least one item wasn't required to be white.
Yeah, we had to buy an entire white outfit (Including shoes— more on that later). And while thankfully, our food didn't have to include sliced bread or milk, pretty much everything else had to be this bright white— except for our basket. After nitpicking final confirmation emails, we didn't spot any mention of a specific white cooler/bag/vessel to hold all our stuff, despite the website mentioning otherwise. They also didn't give anyone grief over their method of transporting items. In our case, it was a borrowed folding luggage cart with bungees we bought the night before. Although next year, they'll likely start to crack down on the basket.
The key to packing is to not pack this.
Between the two of us, yours truly offered to take care of the actual dinner. While participants are invited to shell out more for pre-paid meals, our Pieology, control freak selves weren't about to allow that. Since there were limitations on boozing, we went the bubbly water route. As much as we wanted to pull a fancy glass bottle from our stash, it wasn't logical. Glass anything is freaking heavy to tote around. We opted instead for a couple of cans of LaCroix and some plastic bottles of tea we recycled.
Our designated check-in was 4:15 p.m. at a local hotel. The buses didn't plan on bringing folks back to the hotel until at least 10:30 p.m. Although the event ended up at SeaLegs at the Beach, having drinking water kept us sane. Remember: we had to load and unload our gear from our car to the bus and back. There was also the schlepping of this gear from the bus to the beach and back. Oh, and we still had to set it all up (and eventually break it down) in the sand. If all that manual labor doesn't get you the least bit thirsty, then more power to you. Nobody told us, but we found water stations at both the hotel and the venue. Pack a reusable bottle and hydrate. You won't pass out nearly as quickly on the dance floor. We're talking to you, rando gal.
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When in doubt, pack this.
Decorating your table is apparently a big deal at these events. The more elaborate, the better. Go big or go home, and all that jazz. Our neighbors to the right realized real quick that balloons weren't the way to go. On the left, we had seasoned pros (having attended both LA and SD events) erecting framework and other fancy get up. Us? A vase with flowers and glimmer lights that we enjoyed, but were relatively basic. One common denominator all around us were flameless votives. Lots and lots of them. Even in fake candlelight, everything looked better. Invest in a multi-pack of these faux tealights, and you'll coast by fine.
From the start, we figured the secret spot would be beachfront property. However, there was no guarantee until we got there. Ladies in heels and those in fancy outfits were in for a surprise when our dining room turned out to be sandy. Next time you're walking by Old Navy, spend the few bucks and grab a pair of white slippers. Pack them with the rest of your gear, and use them when you're carrying stuff. Worst case scenario, you've got extra beach gear for later. Best case scenario, temporary relief and less chance of seriously trashing your good shoes.
Would we participate again? Our gut says no. Yet we know how the program works, so it'll be less of a stress next time. And now that we have the shoes (and a clearance white tote purchased from H&M yesterday) and access to everything else, the answer is as clear as next year's disposable forks we'll be eating with.
For more information about Le Diner en Blanc Orange County, head over here.