You've been to those parties. You know -- the ones where you're greeted at the door, handed a cocktail and then ushered into a room full of unfamiliar people. You make awkward small talk, recall that you can't shake hands with a martini in one hand and hors d'oeuvres in the other, and pretty much forget peoples' names from one introduction to the next. You and everyone else exhale a sigh of relief at the ring of the dinner bell.
Well, now you're the one hosting the party. Throw a boring event where everyone prefers they were on their own couches dressed in sweats, snacking on chips and watching sitcom reruns? Not you! You're going to hold an event so memorable your guests will be talking about it for months.
On the following pages are five event ideas that will so delight your guests they'll be dying to come to your next party.
Bored with the typical potluck? Instead, give your guests an international challenge!
Assign each guest or couple a country. Their diplomatic mission? To bring food and drink representing that country, and wear native dress. A couple whose assignment is Mexico, for example, might bring tamales, homemade salsa and chips, and chicken with mole sauce, and arrive in serapes, ponchos or silly sombreros. Someone whose assignment is India might present a palak paneer, nan, or chicken curry and masala chai tea. A traditional Indian woman's sari or man's kurta shirt sets an exotic fashion tone.
To decorate, you may want to set up country stations with tables for the food and drink and backdrops around the party area. Embellish the backdrops with flags, photos and other culturally-relevant items, such as a piñata for Mexico or incense holders for India. (Just don't light the incense lest it take away from the delicious aroma of the Indian food.)
Guests to your Global Gala will enjoy sharing their experiences of learning about different countries' foods, beverages and costumes.
Let your friends' inner flower children blossom at a Woodstock-themed party, where guests can don hip-hugger bell-bottom jeans, floppy hats, large round sunglasses and tie-dyed anything. You can throw a Woodstock party for no occasion whatsoever, but it might make a fun birthday for someone old enough to have been at the original event.
Start with peace sign invitations, then decorate your pad with bright yellows, oranges, pinks and neon greens. Buy large construction paper and cut out huge peace signs and "flower power" flowers. Hang them on the walls and dangle smaller ones from the ceiling. To fill in corners, buy brightly-colored helium balloons. For additional authenticity, hang beaded curtains at entryways. To go all out, install some black lights and hang black light posters from the '60s (Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin will do nicely!). And don't forget the lava lamps!
Tie-dye your own tablecloths and napkins. Almost any entrees and side dishes for this event will do, but for dessert, it's a no-brainer. Before Woodstock, granola was basically unheard of and became quite popular after, so bake some yummy peanut butter granola bars. And the music? Woodstock recordings, of course!
Who Am I?
The ultimate icebreaker, "Who Am I?" offers guests a fun way to get to know each other and costs you next to nothing!
Before your event, buy name tags, but instead of writing the actual names of your guests on them, you'll write the names of famous people. As guests arrive, place the name tags on their backs. No one will know "who they are" and as they mix and mingle, they ask questions of each other attempting to determine the identity on their name tags: "Am I female?" "Am I notorious?" "Am I famous in the present, or was I famous in the past?"
"Who Am I?" enlivens any event, but you can also incorporate it into another theme. At an election year party, make all the name tags names of politicians from past and present and decorate your party space with campaign posters. On or close to Oscar night, the names can be famous actors, with a décor of movie posters. Add to the theme by naming your dishes accordingly. The election party can feature "Barack Obeef," "Clinton Chicken" or "Bushetta"; for the Oscar theme, dish up "French Depp Sandwich," "Fonda Fondue," and a "Jack Lemmon Meringue Pie."
Here's a chance to let your guests relive (or remake!) their teen years: Invite them to a night at the prom.
Prom night is best done big, so you'll want to find a venue that can accommodate half a dozen round tables (or more, depending on the size of the guest list) and affords a large dance floor. Decorate with lots of strung lights, balloons and flowers, and to do it right, you'll want to hire a band, so a real stage will add to the event. An outdoor nighttime setting is ideal.
In your invitations, make it clear the prom is formal attire. Include a message asking each guest to send you photos of them at their original proms in advance of the event. You can hang these on walls or place them in stand-up frames on tables around the periphery. Guests can get to know each other while sharing their original prom stories.
Whether buffet or sit-down, you may want to hire a caterer; or if you decide to cook the meal yourself, you'll still likely need wait staff to cater to the evening's happy prom kings and queens.
Honoring Our Troops
No need for a special occasion to host this party! Just gather family and friends for a chance to socialize and wrap presents for troops overseas.
The U.S. Pentagon no longer lets you wrap a care package and mail it to "Any Service Member," so you'll want to coordinate with designated nonprofits like the Billy Blanks Foundation or Adopt a Platoon to help you select and send appropriate items. And there are plenty of options! You can send books to individual soldiers who have requested specific titles, or adopt an entire platoon and send snacks, toiletries, games, clothes and more.
First, buy wrapping paper, scotch tape, ribbon, a greeting card for each present, shipping boxes and packing tape. With your party invitation, identify the specific item you want that guest to bring, but don't tell them why! As guests arrive, they'll be delighted to learn where their present is going. Have enough tables so that everyone can sit, wrap and write their notes. It's a good mixer for guests who don't know each other well, since the shared activity promotes unity.
You might serve an Americana meal like meatloaf and mashed potatoes on military-inspired plates. Decorate your home with military posters and inspirational photos you find on the Internet.
Hosting a trivia night can spice up a slow bar night or be a great fundraiser. Learn how to host a trivia night to get started.
- AdoptAPlatoon.com. (Feb. 28, 2012) http://adoptaplatoon.org/
- Amazon.com. "Music from the Original Soundtrack and More: Woodstock." (Feb. 28, 2012) http://www.amazon.com/Music-Original-Soundtrack-More-Woodstock/dp/B00274SHKM/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1330733387&sr=1-1
- Books for Soldiers. (Feb. 28, 2012) http://booksforsoldiers.com/
- Food Network. "Peanut Butter Granola Bars." (March 1, 2012) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/peanut-butter-granola-bars-recipe/index.html
- InvitationBox.com. "Peace sign invitations and fill-in thank you notes." (March 1, 2012) http://www.invitationbox.com/psp-fi102.html?gclid=CLGHz_Gvya4CFQ7DtgodAGH1BA
- Military.com. "Support Our Troops." (Feb. 27, 2012) http://www.military.com/spouse/content/military-life/military-resources/how-to-support-our-troops.html
- Party Supplies Hut. "Daisy Bead Curtain." (March 2, 2012) http://partysupplieshut.makesparties.com/Catalog.aspx?intDisplayableCategoryID=1119&intDisplayableProductID=81413
- The Camo Shop. "Camo Party Supplies, Invitations, Decorations." (Feb. 28, 2012) http://www.thecamoshop.com/camo-party-supplies.html