Plan to set up your Caribbean party outdoors: the deck, patio or back yard. The purpose of this party is to enjoy the sunshine, so if you're afraid it will rain schedule a rain date.
A Caribbean-themed party can go two ways: stylishly classic or kitschy-tacky. With any tropical theme, it's very easy to go overboard at the dollar store. Stick to one theme and/or a tight budget to avoid tropical overload.
For a pretty, classy Caribbean party look:
- Use natural-fabric white linens -tablecloths and overlays. Accent with linen napkins in brilliant colours: fuchsia, turquoise, orange or yellow.
- Set your best silver alongside spotless water and wine glasses.
- Find fresh orchids, Heliconia, hibiscus or birds of paradise for centrepieces.
- Add hurricane candle shades with floating candles - or filled with coloured sand, shells and a pillar candle onto each table.
- Use silver trays for fruit displays, serving drinks or under wooden snack bowls.
- Palm foliage is a must. Purchase as much as you can and use creatively with flowers, fruit, tied around napkins, attached to the bar.
- Fruit is also a decorating must. Pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, papayas and grapes can be found at most grocery stores. Don't forget to use pineapple tops to add tropical foliage anywhere it's needed.
Adding Caribbean character
- Parrots, toucans and other tropical songbirds can be nestled among centrepieces or around the socializing area -- a motion-sensor songbird would make a fun touch. Birds can decorate melamine plates, glasses and paper napkins, too.
- Add tropical fish accents: a string of fish around each table or fish patio lights. Find fish-decorated plates, napkins, candles, or wooden fishes to scatter around the food table.
- Brilliant butterflies should also grace the scene somewhere. Tuck a few butterflies around flowers, on walls, attached to chairs or wine glasses.
- Take flowers to the next level and purchase fake tropical flowers in all shapes and sizes. Put them everywhere for a lush, tropical look. Just don't forget a few real flowers for authenticity.
- Shells: scatter random shells around tables or pile them in vases or natural baskets. Glue shells to napkin holders and wine glasses. Get a couple of large conch shells for centrepieces.
- Inflatable palm trees are over 5 feet tall and would give fun, tropical flare to your space.
- Bamboo torches are always a nice touch when the sun starts to set and the rum's 'a flowin'.
- Kiddie table: Pirates of the Caribbean paper plates, napkins, glasses, favours -- this is a golden no-brainer for the Caribbean theme party.
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"Junkanoo" is an authentic sound of the Caribbean if you can find it. Alternatively, steel drums, calypso or reggae music will also do. Often music stores have Caribbean compilation CDs as well, or check out what Caribbean themes iTunes has online.
Caribbean cuisine is an eclectic fusion of African, Amerindian, French, Indian, and Spanish influences. Can you believe a few decades ago, the Caribbean people considered their local dishes too native and uninteresting for the annual hoards of vacationing tourists. Instead they offered French food at hotels and resorts until enough tourists convinced them to share their local cuisine. Imagine!
Your guests will love any of these Caribbean-inspired Canadian Living recipes.
- Easy Island Chicken and Rice
- Roasted Jerk Tofu
- Caribbean Pork Burgers with Mango Salsa
- Coconut Curry Fish
- Jamaican Jerked Chicken
- Roasted Chicken on a bed of Plantains and Onions
- Rum Runner
- Rum Punch
- The Dark 'n' Stormy: Dark rum mixed with ginger beer - a traditional Caribbean elixir!
For a fun twist, create Caribbean-bound airplane tickets. Or use tropical bird, tropical fish, seashell, flip-flop, butterfly or ocean motifs.
Caribbean style should be laid back, so don't force activities onto unwilling guests. That said, with a bit of rum you could start a Congo line or begin a limbo contest. Alternatively, hair stylists can be hired to braid hair.
For the kids
Kids love to join the Congo line or beat everyone at limbo. You can also continue the Pirates of the Caribbean theme and design a treasure hunt to keep them busy. Hair braiding would also be madly popular with little girls.
Give your guests bright little bags filled with a miniature rum bottle, seashell chocolates, sunscreen, hot sauce, a homemade jar of 'Jerk' seasoning, or flip-flops. You could also leave chocolate cigars at everyone's place setting.
Read more: Cuban cuisine: A Cuban menu for 12
Cultural cuisine of the month dinner party ideas
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