Spreadsheets, and budgets, and color schemes, and costumes, and games, and tasty treats, and rearranging furniture, and perfect playlists, and PUNS galore: I am a party planner. More often than not I get overzealous about gathering my friends together because I need everything to be perfect. Though I am accustomed to just ‘hanging out,’ I find the idea of having an event that is lackluster and un-themed heinous. It’s practically a waste of time if some sort of dress code isn’t required (See: Merry X-Messick Annual Ugly Sweater Party). So, for me, I’ve been writing this blog post mentally for the last 10 years. I am constantly thinking about the next party I’m gonna throw and crafting the perfect elements to bring the event together. So, naturally, your preferred literary darlings are an obvious pairing for thematic parties. The only question is, which Picasso do you borrow from to complete your very own masterpiece? Here are my top 5 Literary Event ideas that are on deck for the future.
5. Harry Potter Themed Anything:
Now. You may think this has been played out, but I assure it is timeless. There are so many different events that can be magically transformed by adding elements of Hogwarts & The Wizarding World! The top events I think this would play well for are:
- Baby Showers (A Wizarding World Nursery!)
- Adult Birthday Party (Leave your muggle life behind and throw back some Fire Whiskey!)
- Child Birthday Party (Get them lit with Butterbeer EVERYTHING!)
- Christmas/Winter (Host a feast in the Great Hall, do a sorting ceremony, and more!)
Depending on the occasion, the essentials of a HP inspired bash are the props, the costumes, and the food. JK Rowling gives you a lot to work with in the Snack department, so make use of it!
- The Props: It’s time to hit the thrift store and gather up goblets, candle sticks, pastry tiers (to hold all your goodies), Tarnished serving platters, and left over Halloween decor (spider webs, lace, etc.). You need to give your space a tarnished ‘castle’ feel. Lots of candles (could be battery operated if you’re cautious!), lots of tarnished silver ware, and make it a little dreary/bordering on Halloween-feel. If you’re up to it, a nice touch would be to create a night sky above the dining area/open party area (a la The Great Hall). This could be accomplished with some fabric/fabric paint and pinning to the ceiling. Also feel free to make your living room Platform 9 3/4 or your kitchen into the Hogwarts Express! Next, you need to display the Hogwarts crest, and House colors around. This can be accomplished again with fabric (make some flags/banners to hang around) or by making posters/cut outs with poster board and construction paper. Get crafty with it! Lastly, you need to find some representation of the Horcruxes. Check at the thrift store again and get an old journal, ring, cheap tiara and more!
- The Costumes: While you’re at the Thrift Store, see if they have a surplus of witch’s hats and black robes (bathrobes could be re-purposed). You want to make sure that at least you look on fleek. If you can grab some extras, great! Then you can convince others to join in too! Now. House colors need to be in full representation too. If you are a knitter, go ahead and make some scarves in each house color! You can also print and laminate some Hogwarts crests to apply to everyone’s clothes. Alternately, get on Amazon and make some purchases!
- The Food: There are so many great ideas seeping out of the books, so take your cues from there. Have a large dessert section and label your food: Pumpkin Pastilles, Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, Hagrids Rock Cakes, etc. You can also set up a cart, like on the Hogwarts Express! Tiny sandwiches and the like can be bewitching. And don’t forget the drink section! The internet is teeming with versions of every HP beverage around, so get some recipes from there for Fire Whiskey, Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice and more!
There are too many choices to list here: Scour Pinterest to find more ideas, and make your next Bash Magical.
4. Game of Thrones – Winter is Coming Bash:
This story has already set you up to throw the perfect Holiday or Winter Solstice bash! Much like Harry Potter the decor needs to be very dark and castle-centric. Lots of candles, lanterns, furs/pelts (get the fake stuff by the yard at the fabric store!), feast type food, and ale for days. This is arguably a much lower-key party to throw, though there are some important aspects to keep in mind.
- Decor: represent the Houses of Westeros! Maybe print a large map and have it out on the wall, make/print House Banners, and keep in mind the castle atmosphere. You could also purchase lots of steins from the thrift store, and other metal/wooden features to make the experience seem a bit more authentic. If you can, utilize your craft skills and transform any old chair into The Iron throne. (Did someone say photo op?!?!) Buy small dragons, eggs to decorate & more!
- Dress: have your guests come prepared for a Renaissance Faire!
- Events: If the weather is nice or you’re going to be partially outdoors, set up Renaissance Faire-style games.
- Food: Feast style with platters of meats and cheeses and breads to soak up the ale. I repeat: ale. And wine. For DAYS.
Add in lots of ‘Winter is Coming’ greetings throughout the night, and you got yourself a feast at Winterfell.
3. Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland – general theme:
Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland is tailor-made for a colorful, fantastical, trippy party of grandeur. This theme is such that it could be re-purposed for almost any occasion, though I particularly enjoy it for a “Just Because” theme (you don’t always have to be celebrating something to get everyone together!)
- Snack Bar: set up a nice table with all the Tea Time servings: biscuits, cookies, tea, coffee, cakes, finger sandwiches and the like. Spend some time at thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales to piece together inexpensive multi-colored tea sets (the more mismatched, the better!). Make sure there are little plates for all the tea cups! Also: let’s not forget little name tags on all the platters, reminding your guests to ‘eat me’ or ‘drink me’.
- Decor: Red and white roses in vases with greenery – all over. You can also use cards and clocks as centerpieces, and scatter them around the house for effect. Get lots of little medicine bottles, and tag those with ‘drink me’ as well.
- Costumes/props: If you can get your hands on lots of hats, this would be beneficial to have available for all! As far as costuming goes, it wouldn’t take much to piece together a mad hatter (crazy, colorful, eccentric wear!), a white rabbit (vest, pocket watch, etc.), or an Alice (Blue Dress, white apron, black shoes, head band). Your guests have the whole Carrol zeitgeist at their disposal! Come as a talking flower, be a caterpillar, be a CAT! The possibilities are endless.
Your guests will definitely not be late, for this very important date.
2. Great Gatsby/Roaring 20’s party:
Fill your glasses with giggle water and clink to celebrate! Your friends will thank you for throwing a Gatsby-inspired bash that brings all the glitz and glam of elitist 20’s culture (those guys knew how to party). This theme makes for an excellent 30th birthday party (celebrate your roaring 20’s!), but can also be adapted for many occasions. Decor and costumes will rule the night, but don’t forget to utilize 20’s slang!
- Decor: Lots of gold, glitter, feathers and Art deco galore! Utilize Pinterest to make your occasion a DIY dream come true.
- Costumes: Amazon is stacked to the brim with affordable flapper dresses, gangster outfits, and everything in between. If you don’t want to splurge on a new costume, simply re-purpose something you already own! Add lots of pearls, head pieces, and fur throws to mask a modern dress! Make it your own!
- Food: Keep it simply and classy on this one, but don’t forget the Campaign!!
- Don’t forget to learn some fun slang you can all use! See: “applesauce” (an expletive), “giggle water”, “all wet”, “baloney”, “beeswax”, “hooch”, “juice joint”, “rag-a-muffin” & more!
Gatsby makes for a glamorous, roaring bash, and I totally recommend it. Look fabulous, and feel like a star.
Shakespeare weaves magic and love and nature, so eloquently. His words roll off the tongue with a certain grace and are mirrored by the delicate environment he masterfully creates for his muses. A Midsummer Nights Dream is one of his most beloved works, and it illustrates the ways in which one may throw a BALLER-ASS GARDEN PARTY. One doesn’t have to be marrying Dukes and Queens to have a magical party, full of mystery, intrigue, misunderstanding, and drinking far too much. Here’s how you should do it!
- Decor: you need many strings of light (or lanterns, or both, or whatever you can get your hands on that glows). They will wrap around and drape between every object in your back yard imaginable (trees, potted plants, your children, etc.). Once you have your fairy lights in place, feel free to add flowers/garlands (real or fake), and greenery everywhere. If you’re space is feeling a little sparse, hit the thrift store and get vases/silver platters/such to make DIY centerpieces. Swaths of fabric (lace would be lovely!) can also be draped for effect.
- Food: the food can be very basic for this event: platters of fruit, crackers, cheese, meats, and WINE. I repeat, wine.
- Costumes: let your guests know the dress code options are togas and fairy costumes (both are easy to pull together).
- Events: a flower crown station would be perfect for this party! Set up a table with loose flowers + supplies and let your guests make their own halo. Also, if you have some friends with guitar/ukulele skills, have a bit of live music happening all around!
Whether you’re feeling wizards or flowers, furs or flappers, get your gang together for a ball! Let your literary libations guide you to the party of the year, and feel that creative spark that gives you fire. Your friends will thank you, and you’ll continue living life as the legend that you know you are.
Shine on Party People, and watch out for that Giggle Water!
By the way: