Each year, this week in November is a busy one for my little family! Yesterday (November 10th) marked the 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, today is Veteran’s Day, and tomorrow is Greg and I’s 10 year wedding anniversary! This is the one week out of the year that we are seemingly dressed up and eating cake all week long. It’s busy and fun; and today, I’m excited to share a little more about why! In last month’s Thriving and Surviving Military Life post, I conducted a quick little survey (you can still take it here!) in which many of you indicated you’d like to know more about some of our military customs and traditions. I figured there was no better day than today to share more about one of our biggest time-honored traditions: the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. And while I’m at it, I thought I would show off my latest craft project: simple military table centerpieces!
Across all services, but especially in the Marine Corps, celebrating the birth of that service is a special tradition. I honestly can’t speak for the other services here (and if you are part of our sister services, please share your customs in the comments below!), but the Marine Corps Birthday is a really big deal to Marines and their families…one that we celebrate each and every year with a big, formal Birthday Ball. The Marine Corps’ birthday is November 10th, 1775. So every year around this time, Greg dons his fancy uniform and I a fancy dress, and we go off to celebrate the Corps…its traditions, its heroes, its families and its legacy. Each unit hosts a birthday ball (sometimes you even
have to get to go to several!) no matter if the unit is home or deployed. Whether it’s in a downtown hotel ballroom or a dusty tent in the Middle East, it is often an occasion filled with pom and circumstance, reflection, motivation, camaraderie…and cake…there is always birthday cake! And in the former, it’s also a night of dinner, drinks, dancing and a really good time!
The Marine Corps Birthday Ball is quite often a big, fancy event that takes a lot of hands and coordination to pull off. In the ten years Greg has been a Marine, I’ve never been involved in ball planning before. But somehow the word got out that I’m a crafty one, and I was recruited to make the table centerpieces for our ball here in Kansas (like I said, Marines always have a ball, no matter how far from a Marine Corps base they are!) Considering our tight budget and relatively quick timeline, I made a few samples and sent them off to the Commanding Officer for approval. After some tweaks, we landed on the final arrangement; and last week Greg and I together hustled and knocked out 25 of them for our ball (which was this past weekend!)
I realize many of you are not military folk and will likely never need a military-themed centerpiece. However, the concept I used here can be applied to a variety of party themes…all you need to do is swap out the colors, images and wording! These centerpieces are essentially really large votives. The large 6×8″ glass vases are wrapped in red wrapping paper, trimmed out with gold ribbon, and then brought to life with vinyl images and wording. Once everything was trimmed down and cut, each one came together pretty easily!
In addition to the Marine Corps birthday, this year also marks the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima; one of the biggest battles of World War II, and the iconic symbol of Marine Corps strength and perseverance. Also, our Guest of Honor was an Iwo Jima veteran, so when selecting the images and phrases for the centerpiece, these were obvious choices. I designed the words and images in the Cricut Design Space. I played with the spacing to fit the glass vases perfectly, and specifically designed it so that the words and images would be cut and applied in a single iteration. Once cut and weeded, the vinyl was applied right to the vase in one step using transfer paper!
The gold striped version was my first attempt, but the CO really wanted red so we switched the wrapping paper and added the ribbon. While I personally preferred the gold, the red stood out much more on the large white tables!
I chose not to include the year on the vases so they can be used year after year, if desired!
They looked striking on their own, but each vase was large enough to hold three large candles…
…and when lit, the glow from the candles really highlighted the images and words even more, creating a nice ambiance in the ballroom!
I don’t really consider table centerpieces and decor one of my crafting fortes, but I am really proud of how these turned out, and am glad I was able to contribute my time and talents to our small unit here in Kansas!
Happy 240th Birthday, Marines! and Happy Veteran’s Day to all the vets today! Hope you all have a great day off, and I’ll see you back here on Friday!