Category: Costume Parties

Marie Antoinette Party: Inspiration

I’ve been dying to make myself a Marie Antoinette costume since Christmas. Well, really since I saw the Kirsten Dunst movie, but particularly since Christmas. We were invited to an Antoinette/Louis themed party by friends with French ancestry. I had my costume all planned out, down to powdered hair and face, but we were unable to go.

The costume wouldn’t leave me alone, though, so I decided to have an Antoinette theme for my 30th birthday on May 30: “Let Them Eat Cake!” A dessert and drinks fancy dress party.

Of course, now I am 4 months pregnant, so I’ll have to somehow make a maternity dress.

The inspiration for the decor and desserts comes from the scene in the semi-recent movie where Antoinette and her friends are lounging and indulging in cake and champagne.

Tonight I did a quick silhouette of the scene in Acorn (free photo editor). I’ll print this out as a template and cut a bunch out of black paper to use on the invitations.

A friend is coming over tomorrow night to re-watch the movie with me, and we’ll assemble invitations while we watch, plan the party, and conspire about our costumes.

Harry Potter Party Pictures Part 1

I am delighted with the way the details and decorations turned out for the party!

My friend Gwyneth is a wedding photographer in New Hampshire, (how’s that for Google-friendly link text?) and she is also a basically awesome friend. She drove down from NH for the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows party and offered to shoot the party in addition to helping me decorate and clean up. So most of these pictures are from her. (I did bring my good camera, but I didn’t even take it out of the case. I did take a few pics with my cheap-but-durable camera. Any of the crappy pictures in this post are mine.)

Gwyn isn’t big on playing dress-up, but she likes me enough that she has agreed to a rule of “I wear a costume for Becky once each year.” I played that card last year for the Half-Blood Prince opening night, and forced her to accompany me to the theater dressed as Rita Skeeter. (I was Tonks.) She broke out the cat-eye glasses and quill pen again this year for the Deathly Hallows party.

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Harry Potter Party Plan

I kept a running list of ideas for the Harry Potter Party in a text document in the Parties folder on my laptop. When the party finally came together for the Deathly Hallows premiere, I just opened the doc, added new ideas, created to-do lists, and organized it. I was able to send it to the hosts a few days before to keep them in the loop.

Here’s the plan for the party. I had to make some alterations the day of the party–those notes are in green.

Party Order:
Guests arrive on platform (7 pm)
Photos against backdrop
Sorting into houses (teams)
Muggle quidditch relay (back yard)
Feast (dessert – dining room)
OWLs trivia game (dining room)
Reading from Deathly Hallows (library)
Astronomy tower (upstairs balcony) We ended up switching the library and the astronomy tower for flow reasons.
Awarding of prizes – House Cup (dining room)
Movie (Theater – several of us got tickets for the 12:05 showing)

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Harry Potter Party Prep

I’ve been planning this party for three years.

Seriously. (Siriusly?)

Three years ago, in the fall of 2007, I started reading the Harry Potter books. (Finally. I HATE having to wait for books to come out, so I never start a series till they’re all done. Waiting for multi-part movies is bad enough.) So of course, as I read them, I couldn’t help but come up with party ideas. I think Patronus Cookies were my first idea, when I found a reindeer-shaped cookie cutter in a Christmas set. I’ve had a Word doc going on my computer for probably that long, where I’ve jotted recipe, game, and decoration ideas.

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How to Plan a Pirate Party in 7 Easy Steps

Step 1: Drink a bottle of rum.

Step 2: Watch all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Step 3: Duly inspired, sit down to plan your pirate-flavored invitations, menu, decorations, and games.

Step 4: Drink another bottle of rum.

Step 5: Stumble back to your desk to finish planning.

Step 6: Decide you’re too inebriated to plan anything. Peer into the now-empty liquor cabinet.

Step 7: Light a fire in your living room; dance around it asking, “Why is all the rum gone?”

OR, alternately, if you actually want to get a pirate party planned:

Step 1: Occasions. Talk Like A Pirate Day is Sept. 19…now is the opportune moment to plan a party. If you really like to plan ahead, the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie comes out May 20, 2011. And Pirates make a great theme for birthday parties, movie marathons, New Year’s Eve parties, bar mitzvahs…okay, maybe not bar mitzvahs. Choose an occasion – or no occasion – for your pirate party.

Step 2: Venue. Pick a piratey venue. If weather permits, outdoor parties work really well with a pirate theme, especially if you can hold the party near a body of water. Beyond ambiance, an outdoor party has the added benefit of allowing you to actually bury a treasure chest. If you do have an outdoor party, ensure there are adequate restroom facilities. I once did a pirate party in a park without porta potties; having to shuttle guests to the bathroom a couple miles away at my house really slogged up the procession of the party plan. But it was worth it – here’s the party location, the Temple to Music at Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI.

Step 3: Invitations. Make invitations as soon as you’ve picked the date and time. If you’re mailing invites, send them out at least two weeks ahead of time. Whether you mail, email, phone, or Facebook your invitations, use your best piratey language. Lots of “arrrs,” “ayes,”  and “avasts.” Here are the invitations I made for my pirate birthday party 3 years ago. Hint: don’t make the language so piratey that people can’t understand it…with these invites, several people had to call me and ask for translations.

Step 4: Costumes. What good is a pirate party without costumes? Seriously. It’s one of the best costume party ideas. Plus, your guests will be apt to have more fun and take themselves less seriously if they’re sporting eye patches, hook-hands, and parrots. Everyone walks with more of a swagger when they’re wearing sashes and tricorns. Here’s a fantastic list of ideas and links for putting together pirate costumes.

Step 5: Menu. Unless you want to serve hardtack, citrus fruits, and maggoty meat, I suggest going with an inauthentic menu. Eat whatever you like and focus your creative endeavors on the drink menu. If you’re going non-alcoholic, root beer in bottles is a must. If your pirates are NOT tee-totalers, the Talk Like a Pirate mates have an excellent list of pirate drink recipes. You can fall back on the standard grog, but, frankly, it tastes terrible. The cake is the place to shine with creativity. Here’s the treasure chest cake my mom made for my birthday a few years ago.

And the stellar cake my friend Jenn made for a Pirates movie marathon.

Step 6: Decorations. If you’re not lucky enough to have your party onboard a ship, like this amazing couple with their pirate wedding, decorate as best you can with a nautical flair. (Did you click on that link? Go back and do it now. Go on, I’ll wait.) Think treasure chests, strings of pearls, dubloons, sashes, tricorns, maps, model ships… In the cake pictures above, you can see some of the decorations I’ve used at various pirate parties.

You can ask each guest, or team of guests, to design and make their own pirate flag. Provide supplies – black fabric for flags, white and red felt for cutting out their own pirate symbol, and glue guns to attach them all together. This activity then adds to the decor.

Step 7: Games.

I Don’t Have Scurvy - guests compete to eat cut-in-half citrus fruits, racing a clock and each other. The fruits get more sour as the fastest contestants progress through the rounds. No matter who wins, it’s guaranteed that all contestants will be scurvy free.

Plankman – a living game of hangman. When players call a letter that’s not on the board, there’s not drawing of fictional body parts on a hangman’s noose – each team’s plankman must take a step further down the plank. (If you can do this over an actual body of water, this is much more better.)

Captain Says – like Simon Says, but the Captain calls the shots and does pirate-themed actions (i.e. hop on one foot like a peg leg pirate).

Blind Man’s Bluff - use two eye patches for a blindfold.

Pirate ScrabbleSpeed Scrabble with a twist. Contestants may use only pirate-related words (stretch this as far as you want, but you have to give a justification for each one). The fastest finisher must tell a pirate story using all the words on his or her board to claim the win.

Pin the Kiss on Jack Sparrow/Will Turner – This one is for the ladies. Hang a poster of Cap’n Jack or another dashing pirate. Give each guest a cutout of paper red lips labeled with her name. Put tape or sticky tack on both sides of the lips. Blindfold the player, spin ‘er around, and send her wobbling toward to picture to plant a kiss on Jacky’s lips. Closest one wins.

This post was inspired by my friend Joleigh, who threw a pirate 16th birthday party for a friend last weekend. Jo, you’ll have to send pictures and let us know how it went! Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!

Dorm Life and Party Prep

It’s just after midnight here, and the joint is hoppin’. It’s like a dorm…if that dorm were a crowded, co-ed dorm minus the homework. Matthew and Zach are playing Guitar Hero, Gwyn is surfing the internet, Hannah and my mom and I are working on pirate costumes, and Amy and Joanna (my sisters-in-law) are making custom t-shirts that will be the game prizes on Sunday.

I feel the need to, like, order pizza or something.

Avast, Pirate Invitations!

I am really proud of the invitations for my birthday party this Sunday. I had this vision in my head, and they turned out just as well as I had wanted! However, they took HOURS and HOURS to make.

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This is where we’re having the party:

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Yes, I did. I rented the whole Temple to Music for my birthday party! Roger Williams Park is like three minutes from our house…which is a good thing, because there is no public bathroom in the park, so we will be running bathroom shuttles back the house.

Pride and Prejudice Costume Ball Pictures


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Your hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy (yes, Matthew grew out his sideburns for this!).

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West Point cadets formed a welcoming committee.

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Period music provided by the Flynn family, including the lovely Amanda.

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My mom learns how to dance Regency-era country dances.

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A family friend teaches a waltz lesson.

Pride and Prejudice Ball After-Action Report

The Historical Costume Ball was a success! We had (I think) 39 people, including Matthew and me. I invited about 90 and expected about 50, but a few people changed plans or didn’t show at the last minute. That’s actually a good thing – we filled the entire foyer for the dances, and I don’t think we could have fit even one more couple in! Bigger and better next year…hopefully we can rent a dance hall or ballroom at a hotel and invite more people.

I had no idea how much food to plan. Turns out I way over-estimated…we had enough desserts to feed more than twice the number of people who came. We had cranberry punch (delicious!), Lickety Split chocolate cake, Gooey Butter cake, lemon bars, lime bars, and poppy seed bread. Wendy Flynn made her awesome artichoke spinach dip with homemade bread, and the Thomases brought these gigantic grapes that were more like plums!

I am so thankful that my mom came to RI on Friday night. On Saturday, she manned the kitchen and helped me finish my dress. My honorary big sister Kathleen was up from New York and was supposed to be at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire all day before coming to the ball, but the Faire site flooded really badly and was therefore closed. So she came over in the afternoon and helped bake. I would never have gotten everything ready if it hadn’t been for those two wonderful ladies!

When everything was set up at the church, my brother Zach and his fellow West Point firsties Jason Limb and John Barnes set up post at the doors. I gave Zach a costume cane/baton to beat on the floor, and he announced the guests as they arrived. Jason and John arched their sabers for the guests to walk through.

Matthew (aka Mr. Darcy) surprised me with a lovely bouquet of roses! He’s so thoughtful.

The costumes were beautiful! Many people took pictures, so when Xanga finishes phasing in free pictures for those of us who are too cheap to pay for Premium, I can post pictures.

The ladies got their dance cards filled amidst a flurry of activity, and then Melissa and Melanie Thomas taught several English country dances. Some of the guests do this regularly, while others had never even seen this type of dancing done. I was so impressed at how quickly everyone learned! We did Auretti’s Dutch Skipper, Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot (which Lizzy and Darcy dance at the Netherfield Ball in A&E’s P&P), A Hole in the Wall, Barbarini’s Tambourine and Comical Fellow (which Lizzie and Mr. Collins dance in P&P – “Other way, Mr. Collins!”).

One of the highlights of the evening for me was the live music for A Hole in the Wall! My coworker Jeff Flynn and his two eldest daughters played it on violins and guitar. We danced to CDs/iPod the rest of the time.

We interspersed the group dances with a few waltz numbers. Mr. Sorensen taught us some basic waltz steps. It was like bumper cars on the dance floor!

I have to brag on Kath…she kept things running behind the scenes. She kept the punch bowl filled and the dessert trays heavy with snacks! I didn’t even ask her to help – she just saw what needed to be done and did it! Now that’s a friend. That was such a huge help to me.

We danced till 11 or so. What a party! I sat out one of the dances and just watched. It made me so happy to see my friends from all different parts of my life enjoying such fun interaction.

Everyone wants to do it again soon. I’d say that’s the hallmark of a successful party.

The only sad thing was that my college roommate Hannah couldn’t be there. She was at the ball last year, but this year she had just started a Very Important New Job in OKC. Don’t worry, though…when I go to OKC this weekend, she and I are going to wear our Regency dresses about the town! (And I want to teach her family a couple of the dances.)

I’m hoping to have another ball in the spring – April, perhaps? You’re all invited!

P.S. I also have to brag on the West Point guys. They stayed at our house all weekend, which was a lot of fun. I left for work Monday before they left to go back to NY, and they did ALL the dishes before they left!

Pride and Prejudice Costume Ball

Bingley: Come, Darcy, I must have you dance!

Matthew and I are giving a Ball this weekend…a real, honest-to-goodness ball, with ladies dancing and lords a-leaping (or something like that…). It’s a Historical Costume Ball, and Matthew and I are dressing up as Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. We’re going to do English country dancing and waltzing (with lessons for both). We’re even going to have live music for one of the dances! (The rest will be accompanied by everyone’s favorite band, Ye Olde iPod.)

Last year at Christmas time, we had a ball at the Miller Estate in Scituate for about 30 guests, and had a wonderful time. This year it’s bigger and better – 50-60 guests, and the event will take place in the lovely stone-tiled foyer at our church. I hope that each year, the ball will get bigger and more elaborate, until someday when we can throw a proper ball in the ballroom at Rosecliff (biggest ballroom among the mansions in Newport).

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to go to a ball. I constantly dressed up my Barbies so they could go to balls. Now that I’m a grownup, I realized that I can have a ball if I want to! Hooray for little child dreams and the ability to make them come true as an adult.

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