Parties were always a large part of my childhood when I was growing up in Michigan. My mother would throw birthday parties for my three sisters, brother and myself. We had at least seven birthday parties every year for our family. We also had Christmas and New Years parties, family picnics and other special occasions. Our guests reciprocated, and invited us to their parties. Needless to say, we had or attended at least a dozen parties every year.
I remember that I couldn't wait for the next party, especially my own. My mother would invite my aunts and uncles and I had an opportunity to see my grandparents and my cousins. My mother would cook some of my favorite dishes that she served to our guests. She also baked a birthday cake and served it with ice cream and coffee for the adults and soda for the kids.
The food was always wonderful. It was great seeing my aunts and uncles and playing with my cousins. Most importantly, I couldn't wait to open up my birthday presents. It was exciting to open my birthday cards and to open my presents. I loved getting gifts, new clothes and toys. The parties were always greatly anticipated and were always a lot of fun. However, they were always the same. I can still remember removing the candles and pink hard sugar H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y letters from the top of my cake, removing the icing, and saving them for the next party. We never considered or thought about changing the party format. But, why not step out of the ordinary and raise your parties up to another level of fun and excitement.
It wasn't until much later in my adult married life that I evolved to accept the concept of themed parties. I remember eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant during the Chinese New Year. The wait staff celebrated by dressing in red Chinese robes, and the owners put on a show with a colorful Chinese dragon and firecrackers. I was very excited and decided to have my own Chinese New Years party the following year.
The subsequent party was simple and fun. I prepared a menu of sample items including chop suey, fried rice, egg drop soup, sweet and sour chicken, noodles, egg rolls and tea. I distributed it to my guests and asked each to bring one of the items. I also asked them to wear Chinese clothing. I decorated with a red table cloth and Chinese restaurant place mats. I put up some paper lamps, parasols, and fans. I played Chinese music, and the guests all tried to eat with chop sticks. Everyone, enjoyed sampling the variety of foods, listening to the music, eating fortune cookies and having their pictures taken in their costumes. I was on my way. I would never have an ordinary party again.
My sister lives on the water front. She enjoyed having Tropical Hawaiian Luau Parties. She decorated with flowers and banners. She purchased Hawaiian print dinner and desert plates, cups and napkins. Food consisted of bar BQ hamburgers, hot dogs, salad and potato salad. She played Hawaiian music and had the guests participating in limbo rock games. Guests wore Hawaiian style clothing, brought Hawaiian style dishes and refreshments. Moreover, the guests were expecting to have fun and were willing to role play to make the theme work.
I also had a Hawaiian tropical pool party. One of my friends once lived in Hawaii and studied Hula dancing. She added another dimension to the party by teaching the women and the men various Hula moves. We live in Florida so there are plenty of flowers and palm trees. My sisters gathered flowers and palm fronds. They made beautiful decorations and centerpieces. They also greeted guests by creating a tunnel of palms when they walked through the front door.
Our French party maintained a French theme. However, we took it to the next level by building our own Eifel tower decorated with white Christmas lights. We took night photos of our guests with the lighted tower in the background. Another friend is an artist. She drew personal caricatures of the guests on large drawing pads. Again the guests left with something special, a souvenir, to help them remember your theme party for a long long time.
The choice is yours. You can have a ho-hum party. Or, with little more planning, you can have an involving theme party that excites your guests and makes them want to have fun and participate in your party. Here is the formula: Select a theme. Find decorations, music and table ware that support the theme, decide the entrees and deserts that are theme related, invite guests that will excitedly take part and share in the success of the party with food, decorations, costumes etc. Add a surprise. This could include a photographer, a caricaturist, party games, karaoke, a singer, door prizes. Let your imagination run free.