Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tea Party Behind The Scenes - Yard Trash Outdoor Pavilion

One last party project before the actual party post.
The raw materials this time were yard trash.

I'd wanted to make an outdoor pavilion tent for a long time and of course by the time I finally did it, summer was over. I experimented unsuccessfully with other materials for the frame earlier in the summer and finally the husband suggested I use the old edging we'd dug up around from our tree, that was lying around our backyard encrusted with dried dirt, housing spiders and looking completely decrepit.

Why not use a hula hoop like those indoor sheer, pretty above-the-daughter's bed canopy versions?

Well, because I wanted it huge. This one was about 5.5 feet in diameter.

Very easy to construct, really. I did it in about an hour, just before guests arrived at the party. Not kidding!
Nothing like living dangerously.

What we used:

  • Old Edging
  • Disposable plastic tablecloths (54" x 108", cut into half lengthwise) - how many you need will depend on the size of your frame. We used 4 cut into 8 panels.
  • Tarp - 6' x 6'
  • Random garden stakes
  • Nylon rope/gardening twine/whatever was in the garage
  • Duck Tape

Ideally, you'd use whatever is already lying around rotting in your garage or garden shed (translation = free). But you could also buy everything in the above list from Home Depot or Lowe's or any hardware store. The edging we had is similar to this edging. We bought these disposable tablecloths from the party store but you could easily substitute those with tarps or old sheets and suchlike.

What we did:

1 Tape the ends of the edging together to make a circle the size you want. Our old edging was in three pieces, so I taped them together in three places.

2 Tie rope at six or eight regular intervals around the circumference, and tie the ends together in the middle so they suspend the frame from a single central point. The shorter the support cords are, the greater the tension in each cord, so make sure your rope is strong enough. Simple Physics, but also common sense.

3 Wrap the short end of each panel of tablecloth around the frame, between two adjacent ropes, and duck tape the ends down.

4 Climb a ladder and suspend the whole contraption from a suitable tree branch.

5 Lay the tarp underneath.

6 (If it is a blustery day like our party day), tuck the ends of the suspended tablecloth panels under the tarp and stake everything down. Hanging the tablecloth walls in individual panels cuts down on all that wind resistance but even then, the whole thing was at times catching the wind every which way like a sail.

See - easy!

We used ours mostly for decoration and as the Gift Unwrapping Tent. We had minimal outdoor decoration, since we were unsure of the weather until about 3 hours before the event.

And as long as the wind wasn't whipping it about,

it behaved itself nicely and turned out to be a decent focal point.

I didn't do this, because I knew I was going to tear it all down hours after the party, but you could really deck something like this out. Add flower garlands, birthday banners (which we sorta did) or streamers to camouflage the hideous support twine - loads of fun.


  1. that is just enchanting! I would make something like that for an adult party too.
    I like your bias towards the free stuff in the garage and yard :) We always joke that before we throw something away, we run it by the kids first to see if they want to play with it. They usually do.

  2. I love it, and I'm sure all those kids did too! I bet that foam stuff they sell to go along the bottom of a garage door (which we need to buy before this winter, thanks to Mr. Chipmunk chewing away our current one) would work well, too...

    Just got back from Lowes, but didn't buy anything because I took a gamble and assumed Lily would fall asleep for her nap on the way there. She stayed awake, and was both grumpy and destructive. And Johnny was, well, Johnny... We spent an hour there trying to be productive, then left with plans for me to go back tonight, ALONE, once the kids are in bed...

  3. I am doing this today! I am using fabric, however, because I am giving it to one of my daughters for her 7th birthday, and intend to leave it up all summer long. I think it will be the focal point of not just the yard, but the whole neighborhood! Thank you for the great inspiration!

  4. This inspired the rainbow tent I did for my daughter's rainbow party! I just love your blog! =)


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