You probably have held a Cruise Night, a Cinco de Mayo, an Evening in Paris, Luau, Oktoberfest and other theme parties which were destination based. Those types of parties are all lots of fun and you might have done them time after time, with a twist, I 'm sure, with much success. The next time you sit down to plan such a theme party, stop thinking about them as separate events!
Recently, I started out planning a Cruise Night and then I switched it up to be Cruise Around the World Night. I used the basis of the cruise night theme for my decorations and then enhanced the decorations with items from different world-cruise ports of call. My favorite decoration out of my cruise box are peel an stick port holes that show the ocean outside. I put them around the walls of the lobby so that it looked like we were on-board the ship. I invited the residents to participate in the evening by dressing as if they were tourists, or locals from their favorite port of call. I had a few men dress up like the Captain of the ship, which was fun, and others who were their Hawaiian shirts, their t-shirt that they got for participating in a cruise ship's fitness program, and so on.
Resident participation could have been different if I had asked them to bring a memento from cruise destination to share, or if I had asked them in advance to share their favorite memories for our in-house t.v. station or monthly newsletter, prior to the actual theme party. These are ideas that you can use in your community or that I might use for another activity. I think it is a good, cheap way to start getting people in the proper mindset for the upcoming special event. In the past we have done pictures with the Captain and I dressed my Executive Director up as the Captain. I made a photo wall with the ships wheel, etc. See the Activities Director's store under the resources tab at the top of this page for items that you can use.
The food for my Cruise Around the World Night was in two parts. As some of you might recall, I host a reception prior to dinner in our main lobby first, have a special dinner menu in the dining rooms, followed by a show designed for the theme. The reception food had three banquet tables, with two port-of-call's food and decor each on them. The decorations had to be accents to the tables because of the chaffing dishes and platters that we served from.
One table was Mexico and Italy. It was decorated with a red table skirt, a white table cloth and green sheer fabric for the "fluff." I used red, white, and green flowers and the leaning Tower of Pisa to enhance the Italian side of the table. The food that was served was bruschetta. On the Mexican side, I used a pinata and a multi colored poncho to decorate, and the food was beef empanadas. The second table had Greek and Sweden on it. The table had a white skirt on it and white cloth. I used blue fabric for the "fluff" and some simple decorations. For the Greek side, I used plastic columns that you can find in cake decorating store, along with Greek props I bought from the store.The food was spanakopita. For the Swedish side, I used a fish statue and a brass mariner's telescope, that was part of our everyday nick-nacks in a wall unit in the Lobby. The food was, a community favorite, Swedish Meatballs. I also used yellow flowers on this table because it is part of their flag's colors. And the last table was French and Asian. The table was skirted in white and the overlay "fluff" was split since these two locations did not share a color of which I had enough fabric. For the French side, we used red on top and the Asian we used yellow. For the French side, I used a cut out of their flag and some other paper items that I found at the party store. I also accented it with a decorative figurine of a lady's bodice (idea being: fashion) and a decorative box with more fashion items on it. The food here was goat cheese flat bread. The Asian table had decorative umbrellas and red lanterns on it. The food was Pot Stickers. Check out what else you can use for Asian decor and lots of other ports of call, including some that you might want to include that I did not.
The meal inside the dining room was high end, as if they were at the captains dinner on board the ship. You could also carry the theme into the dining room buy offering a specialty entree from different ports of call. My culinary department did not go this route and as much as I was disappointed, the menu they served was first class and I ended up pleased with their effort.
The show that I had afterwards was unique. There is an entertainer in my area who creates a slide show presentation and plays the piano as the background music for the show. He speaks between each musical selection and tells you what you will be seeing and what you will be listening to. The show that he provided us was Around the World in 80 Ways. It included a cruise ship, along with other methods of transportation. It was like watching a set of mini-travelogues and listening to a great concert at the same time. The residents loved him. It is very important to have the right show on a theme night like this for the evening to be a success. Most of the time I select my theme nights in advance which gives me time to find just the right show. This particular program, I had the basic idea, Cruise Night, but when I learned about his show, changed it and called it Cruise Around the World.
The entire event was a lot of work, because, instead of bringing one box of decorations down from storage, I found myself with a box for Cruise, French, Mexico, Italian, Asian, Greek, and boxes for all the silk flowers that I thought that I'd need. I encourage you to think out of the box and see what you can do when you mix and match your existing decorations and create a new theme night for your residents to enjoy!