A party is a wonderful way to celebrate life with family and friends, and with the holiday season upon us, especially New Year’s Eve, it’s the perfect time to get people together. Instead of a typical fête, why not create a themed lounge or two in your home for your next gathering?
The lounge area should be cozy, have low lighting, plenty of seating, a buffet table, and a bar with a variety of cocktails, wine, beer, and soft drinks. Consider hiring college students to serve drinks and perhaps pass appetizers, or hire a personal chef or caterer with servers to enjoy the company of your guests during the event. If you need new tunes, I’m sure Princeton Record Exchange can supply you. If you’re looking for customized save the dates and invitations, Joy Cards on Nassau Street produces amazing works of art.
I’ve listed some suggestions below, and you can create a party as simple or elaborate as you budget allows. The nice thing about lounges is you can have more than one during your event to suit the interests of you and your guests. Some lounges can be smaller and opened for a short time to offer variety, and get people to mingle more.
All can gather around a couple of flat screens to watch games while munching on pub grub like quesadillas, potato skins, or Buffalo wings from Chuck’s. Wash it all down with a good brew or cocktail. Providing a billiard table, foosball table, and/or dart boards are a bonus, especially for those who aren’t into spectator sports. This can be in addition to other lounges.
Hire a jazz pianist or ask a friend to tickle the ivories. Don’t have a piano? Play traditional or smooth jazz to add to the ambience. Heavy hors d’oeuvres with wine and cocktails are nice in this setting. An alternative is to play New Orleans jazz, and serve up creole appetizers!
Select a room with a door and an opened window. A Little Taste of Cuba has a nice selection of quality cigars for your event. Provide single malt scotch like Glenlivet, cognac, or perhaps the locally imported Double Cross Vodka to enhance the experience. Check here for drink pairings based on the strength of your smoke. Play suave Bossa Nova music or Frank Sinatra for a Rat Pack feeling. This lounge can be in addition to the others mentioned.
JAMES BOND LOUNGE
Can you say Casino Royale? Place Black Jack, craps, roulette and/or poker tables around the room, and make sure you have plenty of clay chips. Hire some dealers for the tables or ask some friends to work them. There’s no permit necessary as long as no money will be exchanged, but the atmosphere can still be electric! This event definitely calls for a martini bar. Up the ante with gadgets to play with, i.e. an iPad with gaming apps like iSlots, Poker for iPad, Texas Hold ’em for iPad, and Black Jack on it, a portable DVD player or laptop with a Bond DVD from Princeton Record Exchange pre-loaded, or tell everyone to check in on Facebook and tag guests with their smartphones. Black tie is optional.
This is perfect if your crowd is into dancing. This could be swing, disco, Top 40, or whatever you listen to. The cocktails, wine and beer will loosen up those who are normally timid to dance. Hire a DJ to motivate everyone to keep moving, or connect your MP3 player or computer to your audio system and select a great playlist. Choose the crossfade option (under preferences>playback) if you’re using iTunes for an uninterrupted flow of music. Pass heavy hors d’oeuvres to those not shaking their groove thing, and dancers can make their way to the buffet. This lounge can also be in addition to the others mentioned.
I’ve saved my favorite for last. If you like to spice things up, have your guest enter a room with ottomans and large cushions on the floor, an optional hookah that you can buy at Cafe 360 in Freehold for $20 – $100, and a belly dancer to entertain guests. If you don’t have a dancer, play music like Moroccan Bellydance to set the mood. If your budget allows, place a party tent in the room with a Persian rug on the floor and ceiling curtains that drape down along the sides for a cozier atmosphere. Add uplighting, potted palm trees, and Persian lanterns as finishing touches. Mezze such as stuffed grape leaves, falafels, hummus and baba ghonuj with flat bread available at Zorba’s Grill, and kefta kabobs can be passed, and entrees like taijine chicken and lamb tanjia with cous cous can be set up buffet-style. Check Ten Thousand Villages or Home Goods for Middle Eastern/North African decor. Want a camel in front of your house to make a statement? Contact Kafka Farms in Watchung.