Dining by Design


Dining by Design is a Valley organization that raises cancer awareness and funding for the American Cancer Society. Area talent comes together each November to showcase amazing tablescapes. When you think of setting the table for a special occasion, you’re not quite thinking big enough unless you have attended Dining by Design and have seen these masterpieces for yourself.

Started in 2000, Dining by Design is an opportunity for hosts and hostesses and those with a designer’s eye to display custom themed table designs they craft from the table legs up.  Attendees walk through this museum-like setup of dining tables, cameras in hand, oohing and aahing over the beautiful displays.  Some tables lure your attention with simplistic, clean lines and modest components. Some tables are so over-the-top extravagant you will wonder how they were possibly put together.  All participating designers, both women and men, are volunteers from the community, and each year boasts from 40 to 50 tables to view.

What a small group of women set out to establish, a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society supported by Rio Grande Valley individuals and businesses, has grown into a premiere Valley event each fall.  Back in the beginning, Dining by Design was a daytime event, but it has grown into both a Preview Party and Evening Gala, complete with a fine dining experience like no other around.

The first location to hold Dining by Design was the Treasure Hills Country Club, followed by the Harlingen Country Club. However, Hurricane Dolly changed everything in 2008, and the event took a two-year break.  In 2010, Dining by Design partnered with Texas State Technical College Cultural Arts Center, expanding into their vast location. Guests continue to enjoy the mouthwatering fare prepared and served at both the Preview Party and seated dinner that evening by TSTC Culinary Arts students.

Dining by Design’s dozen committee members are responsible for enlisting local talent to design each table, seeking sponsorships, selling tickets to both of the day’s events, developing and sharing promotional material, and many are designing tables as well.  Since the organization’s start over a decade ago, Dining by Design has raised an astonishing amount: over $650,000, all for the American Cancer Society, which is celebrating its milestone 100th birthday this year.

Dining by Design is set to be held Thursday, November 7th, at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center located on N. Loop 499 in Harlingen. The Preview Party will be held from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, and TSTC’s Culinary Arts Department will be serving a buffet of finger foods.  Tickets are $25 a person and can be purchased in advance at the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, online at www.DiningByDesignHgn.org, or at the door.  The Evening Gala begins at 6:30 pm, and tickets are $100 per person.  Limited seating is available.  If you are interested in being a designer for this year’s event or would like Gala ticket information, please contact Darleen McDonald at (956)873-2424.  All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.

Dining by Design continues setting a magnificent table, all the while showing cancer the door.