What's Cooking in Carolina?

Mainly creative menus and recipes (usually healthy) and always from scratch with tips for party planning, theme parties, weddings and decorating tips so you can give swank parties or dinners to delight your guests from a part time caterer, owner/operator of a coming soon Entree Vous, but mainly a cook and eater who grows much of her own food and loves to laugh.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

How to Throw a Cruise Ship Theme Party

We frequently get asked about our hugely successful Cruise Theme Parties, so we are going to describe the best one so far.

When we decided to design a cruise ship theme party, our first consideration was the number of people attending and the location of the party. We expected 150 guests. We wanted to have the party on two of the three levels of the spectacular home where the party was to be held, one of the party givers. Our next consideration was maximize the space, keep people moving and not bottleneck the guests at any one spot, like one buffet table. Since cruise ships normally have a large buffet, we decided that would be the focal point; however cruise ships also offer their guests other eating options. We did this as well. The buffet would be in tent outside at the upper level, between the portacache and the garage. The garage would be carless, with one bay opened to the tent and set up for the band. The other bays would be closed off, hidden from view and used as set-up area for some of the party staff. The kitchen on the same level and would serve as the coffee shop. The study, also on that level, was designated Susan's Sweet Shop, named for one of the party-givers and housing a huge array of desserts for the guest to choose from. On the lower level, the bar (already there) served as the bar. Outside, we had a hot dog stand with hot-dogs and french fries under a tent. Off the bar in the in-house theater, we had South Pacific playing (and not only did people watch it, we had to replay it!). When the guests arrived, they received a map of the ship decks along with their lea's: it was the actual floor plan of the two stories of the house we were using, labeling the rooms so people would know what was available. This is the lower deck map:

The invitations were in the shape of a ship and gave the boarding times (party start time) as well as the seating times for dinner and boarding passes for a certain number of guests. It also instructed the guests to wear cruise ship casual clothing.

The decor: we ordered a large arch which had to be assembled for the entry onto the ship (or into the tent). It was cute, however, it was a pain to set up and the "party" company we ordered it from did not send enough material (like tape) to actually put it together. In the future, we would do it ourselves and make it a bit sturdier and possibly reusable. This thing was great as a picture venue but fell apart almost the second the party ended.

The linens in the main tent were white, covered with hues of blue. The centerpieces were original: we took bamboo pieces about 2 1/2" and put in in styrofoam in small clay pots and stuffed fern leaves out of the top of the bamboo. They looked just like mini palm trees.

We rented fish net, crab pots, and other nautical items from the rental company. The food tables were spread with palm and banana leaves and had huge vases filled with lemons and limes which held large flowers.

The party givers wore captains hats and the other staff wore navy style GOB hats, also ordered over the net. When the guests arrived, the library lounge near the entry served as a lounge with a pianist was playing lounge music. After everyone arrived, the band played 60's beach music in the main tent area.

We had an organized game, like they do on cruise ships. We got two teams to volunteer. Each was given an equal length of soft rope. At the sound of the starter, each person had to lace the rope in some item of their clothing (like down a sleeve) until the rope went thru everyone on the team. First team to win, won champaign for each member.

The entire menu can be seen on our web-site: Cruise Ship Theme Party Menu

The party was a huge success. Everything came together, people went everywhere and enjoyed the house, the food and the netertainment, everyone's favorite was something different (the sushi bar, the hot dogs and fresh french fry bar, the venison (a first for some), the desserts, etc.

Be creative and have your own theme party. It's fun, it engages the guests and everyone goes away happy. On the other hand, if you live in Carolina, we could plan it for you.

Now, back to work!



  • At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for such great ideas. I am creating a Cruise Theme Party for an Independent Living (55 Plus; that's what I'm requried to say, more like 75+). Many residents have traveled alot so I'm hoping it will be a big attraction. Thanks, again.


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