Friday, August 15, 2014

Prepping for My 1001 Nights Party: Tents

Vintage illustration by Virginia Sterrett

Now that I'm not taking care of multiple kids every day, I have time, energy and money to indulge in one of my passions again: Throwing parties! This summer my cousin is helping me throw a massive party we've called "Scheherazade's 1001st Night." It's an Arabian/Persian/Moroccan themed party. Dog and kid/family friendly in the daytime; adults only cocktail party after 7pm.

To keep the party affordable, we're buying many of the foods at Costco, where you can source a decent tzatziki, affordable and tasty-enough hummus, tons of pita, stuffed vegetarian grape leaves, olives and the produce we'll need for the party. We'll make couscous and jeweled rice at home ourselves (in massive quantities!) but we'll splurge on catering for the hard stuff - the Mediterranean style beef and chicken. I wish we could serve platters of beautiful grapes, but since they are deathly poison to dogs, I can't risk any of them falling on the ground in my yard.

We won't do anything cheesy like hire belly dancers, and I won't wear a harem girl costume, but I'll definitely put an Arabian Nights style playlist on the beatbox, and I'll wear a jeweled flowy gauzy caftan. However, I decided it would be fun to have glow in the dark and UV light reactive things at the evening portion of the party. Not to turn it into a rave, but to make it fun and colorful and unique. Our weather here in Seattle is so bad that August is about the only time we're able to throw outdoor parties in the evening - and there's still a chance of rain. It's August 15 and it's raining even as I type this!

To keep the drinks easy, we'll serve beer and wine, and then just two specialty cocktails. (We ended up with a lot of leftover alcohol - good problem to have - after our massive Christmas party, I think because we just tried to have too much selection. I don't want to end up with leftovers and spend fall drinking them up, fun though that sounds!)

The party preparation for this has been pretty time consuming (but in a fun way). I've thrown an Arabian Nights party before, so I already had some silks and fancy pillows saved from that. I started shopping for fake flowers, the sequins and "jewels" I have been gluing on to them, silks and fabric for the tents about a month ago. I've also gotten all the UV reactive colorful plates and some serving trays.

Our colors for the party are purple, orange, gold, teal/turquoise, and fuchsia/hot pink.

I normally don't throw junk around in one of the rooms of my house (that's what my garage is for, muwahaha) but I've had to turn the former playroom into a party goods staging area. This is where I'm temporarily storing the dishes, silks, flowers, LED candles, batteries, lanterns, vases and decorations for the party.

I bought this canopy tent - which I know I will re-use at future parties - for just $130 at Wal-Mart, somewhere I don't normally shop but thought to check for such a thing. I managed to get this tent up all by myself somehow - it's supposed to take two people to pull it apart. I had to climb up on a ladder to get the canopy on. I was so grateful the canopy fit well!

The rug is a fairly inexpensive one (under $180) that I will use in my dining room after the party. This is me practicing setting up the tent - the rug and fabric will have to go back indoors for the next week until it's time to set them up again the night before the party.

Here I'm figuring out how I'm going to get the fabric covering three sides of the tent. I'm seriously tempted to just staple it!

I want each of my two tents to have an air mattress, so I bought a new one for $35 and will use my old one. I'm sure these will both get used again. Especially since I don't currently have any guest rooms or guest beds in my house and guests have been sleeping on the couch. I bought inexpensive gold satin sheets (via Amazon) to cover the mattresses with for the party - I won't care if guests get food on them.

I've strung purple "Christmas" lights up - the other tent will get fuchsia colored ones. These lights will look silly in the daytime but will help add light and look cool at night. I'm also experimenting with my UV lights from Halloweens past - how can I plug them in where people won't trip over the cords, and exactly how much light will shine out from them?

Here's a collection of vases and lanterns I'll use to decorate the party. I'll be bringing lots of my indoor furniture - side tables, coffee tables, and the indoor/outdoor seating set I keep in my kitchen - outside for the party. All those side tables will need lots of lanterns and candles. I've sadly had to invest in a lot of LED candles. I don't usually like to use those, preferring real candles, but I'm afraid to have any sort of flame near the very flammable tent fabrics.

In my next post, I'll show you what I've been playing with regarding festive cookies!

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