An "Around the World" party is wasted on dorm students who see it only as a drinking party. Rather, this theme highlights the diversity in food, drink and cultures around the world and can be infused into virtually any kind of party. It's different and fun, and is perfect for the Retiree who intends on traveling, the College Graduate who's going to spend the summer abroad, the potluck with guests hailing from many different cultures, the creative Progressive… Even a simple dinner party can have different courses from different areas of the world. Depending on the size of your party and the venue, select as many regions/cultures as are appropriate and coordinate your décor, refreshments and entertainment accordingly. If your party is large you can have entire rooms allotted to each culture, if it's small you can have vignettes with tapas and beverages. Provide an itinerary or passport to each guest explaining what each item is - and time allowing, you can put together a brief history of the refreshments and even a recipe book!
What is your "Party Picture"?
- This theme is perfect for "guest participation" - ie potlucks and Progressives. Organization will be the key to your party's success. If you have a circle of friends or neighbors with a variety of ethnic backgrounds, embrace your respective heritages and make an event of it!
- Select your region/country/cultures of choice and determine what element of the meal will hail from that ethnicity.
- Include your plan in your invitation, inviting each guest to your event and asking that they bring a dish and beverage representing their own, or their favorite ethnic cuisine. Have each guest give you their specifics when they RSVP so that you can put together an "itinerary" of each guests world travels (it also helps you ensure that not everyone is bringing something that is meat based or vegetable based, etc.)
- As the host you can do one of two things:
- Fill in the gaps - if you see a certain element of tapas or dish that is not adequately represented you can fill the gap.
- If you are planning tapas and cocktails, you can plan the desert menu, selecting two or three deserts that are a varietal of cultures. For example, baklava, flan and key lime pie!
- It's harder to do a multi-course dinner option with Around the World unless you are very selective in what each course will be. It may be too much for the palate to handle the extreme swings in seasonings and flavors your ethnicities may offer. The exception would be a Progressive party where you break your party into tapas/appetizers, entrée, desert. Each section is divided in time and location, allowing the taste buds to reset and prepare for the new tastes and flavors.
- A better fit is a tapas cocktail party. Have vignettes set up throughout your party venue for each highlighted ethnicity. Select one or two tapas and a complimenting beverage at each station.
- If you are fitting this with a Retirement party or a Graduation party - try to have it coordinate with the places your Guest of Honor will travel to. You can add an element of personalization by including a small notebook at each station where guests who have traveled to the area highlighted can jot down notes on their experiences; the must visits, the over-rated, the unexpected surprises. Each notebook ends up being a very personal travel guide for your Guest of Honor.
- If you are requesting guest participation, be specific! Let each guest know exactly what you are looking for (an appetizer that will provide 2 to 3 tastes for XX amount of guests and a beverage that will provide a small (1/2 size portion) for XX amount of guests). Ask guests to provide specifics when they RSVP and that you will provide final numbers approximately one week before the event. Also, be sure to ask for recipes in advance of your event for use during your party.
- This theme is ideal for all of the senses. The flavors and smells of the regional food, the textures and colors of the decorations that invoke the feel of the region, and toss in a montage of music reflecting each of the cultures.
- For each region do a little research to get some history, some recipes and some inspiration for your décor. Provide each guest with a small binder covered to look like a passport and provide the recipes for each of the tapas and beverages on note cards at each station that can be placed into sleeves in the binder. Your guests leave with an instant party favor reflecting the favorites of their fellow guests.
- This theme doesn’t fit well with a restaurant venue as you will be hard pressed to find a restaurant that offers the variety of flavors and cuisines necessary. However, caterers can typically accomplish this theme for a venue that you can bring your caterer to.
Communicating with your Guests
The invitation to an Around the World Party should immediately let your guests know that this is a party celebrating a variety of cultures and geographic regions - and if you are looking for guest participation (potluck, progressive, or simply planning assistance from the guest's personal culture or heritage) make sure you let them know early so that your guests can plan accordingly! If you are looking for guest participation be sure to let your guests know that you will send out a party reminder a week before so that they can properly estimate the amount of their contribution to bring.
Passport to a Party!
An invitation that looks like a passport on the outside - get a digital image of a passport and print onto standard cardstock.
Have the front of the invitation look like a checklist with many regions, countries, and cultures listed and "checked" on it. Open to ask your guest if they will come celebrate food and drink from around the world with you!
|Thanks for your Participation!||Dee||Ga|
|I did a potluck with everyone bringing foods from other countries (and the receipes). As a thank you for this party I created a digital version of the "recipe" book. It was so much fun, we are talking about it being an annual party.|
Dress It Up
This Around the Word party has the potential for anything you could possibly imagine! You can do something simple, and let the food and music speak for your party, or you can do a little research on the various regions you are highlighting and bring in elements of that culture in your décor. You can have a little of everything everywhere, or you can create vignettes in areas or rooms of your party venue. Imagine an International Conference of countries and imagine how each culture and region would be highlighted. Use the internet for inspiration - or take a tour of your local ethnic areas in your city or restaurants highlighting a particular culture. Consider what will go on your walls, tables, ceiling, chairs - and even how your guests will enter your event.
- Decorate Your Party Space:
- Maps, Maps, Maps - Nothing speaks to this party quite like maps! You can have maps as your tablecloth, maps on the wall. Consider placing a large map of the world in a prominent location and have guests place small dots in all of the places they have been. You'll end up with a group of people around the map talking about where each guest is placing their dot and asking questions about their travels!
This party is all about the food and the drinks, and maybe a little bit of music and dancing too! But mostly, your food and beverages are critical to the success of this event because it's purpose is to highlight the cuisine from around the world. If you are doing it yourself, do your research! Select excellent cookbooks that give detailed instructions and take a trip to your local international farmer's market. However, if your circle of friends is varied ethnically, consider calling on everyone to either submit a recipe, or bring a dish! Have specialty cocktails that represent each culture highlighted to make your bar a little easier. Note, you can also combine this party with a beer tasting or wine tasting with an international twist! Don't forget to give each guest a passport to stamp at each vignette.
Cakes and Desserts
This party is open to a lot of interesting entertainment, music and activities. It's probably one of your easier parties for keeping guests occupied. Each region or culture is going to have unique music, unique traditions and entertainment. A mariachi band or Salsa instructor represents the Latin culture, an Irish tenor and beer tasting brings us to Ireland, Japanese Drums and a Oragami table (yes, you will find that adults will love the opportunity to try a craft!) reflect Asia… You are limited only by your imagination. Consider entertainers that would reflect the cultures you are highlighting, vignettes that have interesting materials and information your guests will discuss, and music and activities that represent a country you've included.
- Cooking School! Have a professional chef specializing in one of your regions (or, if your guests are excellent in their culinary skills) show everyone the elements of cooking that style of food - what sort of spices are used? How is it prepared? What is it traditionally served in and with?
- Specialty Music and Dance: Most ethnicities have a unique type or style of music and song, and often even dance. Look at the vendors in your area to see if you can incorporate that music into your event.
- Home Made Travel Guides: Next to each vignette representing a region or country, have a notebook for guests to write stories or information from their travels to that area. It will give your guests a reason to interact and chat, and result in a fun "Thank You" memento that your guests will all appreciate! Simply take the information and either make copies or, if you are ambitious, transcribe, and create a PDF that is forwarded via CD to each of your guests with a Thank You note!
- Where am I from? A good ice breaker would be a deviation of the "Who am I?" game. Simply have labels with countries and major cities (you can toss in a continent or two for the geographically challenged) and place a sticker on each guests back as they enter your event. They can ask other guests yes or no questions to narrow down where they are from. For example - am I from Asia? Am I a City in the United States? As guests guess correctly, they can get a new sticker and the guest who has correctly guessed the most will receive a prize at the end of the evening.
- Birthday's Around the World: If this party celebrates a birthday, do a little research on line and discover birthday traditions from other countries. Select a few and then implement them, with an explanation for the other guests - it's fun and you learn something new!
- What Flag is This? Have flags represented throughout your party space (you can make them with poster board) and have a list illustrating each flag. Have guests guess what country each flag represents throughout the event and have a party for the guests who have the most correct. You can have a little fun with this by tossing in a few of your own creations and see where people think they are from!
Prizes and Favors
With this theme, you can go in virtually any direction for prizes and party favors. You can create travel bags with traveling essentials to emphasize the actual going to and from a place, or you can celebrate the specific cultures by having items representative of those regions and cultures reflected in your prizes and party favors! Get creative and you can have a lot of fun with this theme!