Theme party ideas for adults

Of course, the first week I miss a scheduled post, 6 people at a party make a point to tell me they enjoy my writing/blog. Did you all work together to guilt trip me? Because it worked. You crazy kids made me a little weepy, d’aww.

Also, I got a slew of nonsensical comments from the interwebs, which the WordPress spam robot completely missed. Probably skipped ’em because they aren’t linking to Christian Loubouton shoes or Gucci handbags. Instead they just link to facebook profiles of attractive people. I’m keeping some of them, because look at this one:

Your website has to be the eltcreonic Swiss army knife for this topic. (from Pocket Cheese)

I don’t know if a bunch of drunks found one of my business cards or I’m just being punished by the blog gremlins.

So, I’ll set aside the part of my Saturday generally reserved to pretending if I lie still in bed I can fall back asleep and my hangover will go away and Katelyn might wake up and I can ask her to bring me a water…and instead I’ll write a make-up post. But don’t ask me to say sorry. Yes, I prioritized getting laid over writing in my blog, and no one can make me apologize for that.

This is what I look like right now.

This is what I look like right now.

Choosing a theme for your party

I have been throwing theme parties since I was 7. I would plan for my next birthday just as soon as the last one passed, brainstorming ideas in my journal. I found that two key ingredients made for a notable party — the type of party people talked about for days after — and that was a carefully chosen guest list and, of course, a well-executed theme.

Historical themes included (and feel free to steal them)…

Teeny Tiny Party – Miniature everything. Cupcakes turned upside down and decorated like cakes. Those toothpicks with tiny pinwheels on them. Half-sized gel pens. Mini skirts encouraged. Palm-sized pizzas. Custard cups of “spaghetti” made from angel hair pasta and the littlest hand-rolled meatballs. Even the invitations were itty bitty.

Under the Sea – If you make ocean-themed blue jello cups, don’t put gummy sharks in them. Don’t put gummy anything in them. The sugar gets all sucked out and the gummy engorges with water and you end up with floppy tasteless shark blobs. Actually, this was entertainingly gross. I also made sea-shell pasta and hot dog “octopuses” (slice the hot dog vertically just past the halfway point, and the dangly hot dog “legs” will curl when you boil them).

Image from Taste of Home, click for recipe.

Casino Royale – Invitations in black envelopes included cut-up card confetti and fake money. I made a roulette table out of a lazy Susan and card-stock. Keno board out of a white board and painters tape. Poker table. Poker chips scattered everywhere. A paper-mache golden egg, covered in a thick layer of glitter, contained prizes for the winner with the most counterfeit cash.

Sweet 16 – Candyland. I found a freaking candyland VHS tape + floor game and left it playing downstairs to add to the ambiance. Giant lollipops made out of balloons and cellophane. Smarties necklaces. Decorations and food were strictly pink, orange, and white. Those little sticky white pork buns.

Murder Mystery Dinner – I wanted to throw one regardless and was willing to write my own script, but I lucked out and found a boxed murder mystery at the thrift store. Aw yis, vintage. Each invitee received a wax-sealed manila envelope stuffed with a packet of instructions, including period costume ideas and character breakdowns so they knew in advance how to play their roles. My mom helped me put on a 5 course meal, and each ring of the dinner bell both signified when to bring out the next dish and to advance the game one round. The murderer ended up being a surprise porn star from the film, “Stiff Upper Lip.”

Image from

I’m a Big Kid Now – For my 18th birthday I encouraged guests to dress up as 5-year-olds. One boy came in a Spiderman costume. Everyone brought baby pictures and we had a guessing contest. Bubbles. Crayons. Finger-painting. At the end of the party, I had a bead-giving ceremony à la YMCA summer camp, where I gave out plastic beads on safety pins to each person in turn, explaining what the color of the bead signified and what each person meant to me. I cried. A lot.

And, of course, with any of those themes you need only add alcohol and they become adult parties. That’s really what I do; throw a kid-worthy party with over-the top decorations and at least one craft activity and/or game, and tack on a BYOB.

The Mashup Formula

I’ve also recently discovered a sort of formula, and that’s the mashup. Take a style (such as a genre or pop culture meme) and mash it with a type of event or holiday. And then throw it on your birthday because, yes, you can have Halloween in February (Sami says it’s OK).  I did “Ravemas,” which was actually kind of temporally relevant because my birthday is two days after Christmas.gingerbread-cookie-club-kids

  • Rave + Christmas = Ravemas:
  • Fishnets, glittery Santa Hats (Claire’s had the best ones), fuzzy leg warmers, antler ears, big black boots
  • Mistletoe & cuddle puddles
  • Egg nog and spiked hot chocolate
  • Twinkle string lights every-the-fuck-where, plus rave-y lights
  • My friend brought his DJ gear and played a house set
  • Cookie club kids decorating sesh

Using this formula, I can think up a mint of other themes for ya:

  • Tim Burton Easter
  • Death Metal Valentine’s
  • German-style Wake (for the passing of your 20s). Ziggy zaggy ziggy zaggy. Oi oi oi!
  • Walking Dead Prom
  • Office Party Halloween (put on some bunny ears and pretend you’re in the conference room trying to get a sexual harassment suit)
  • Sci-fi Speed-dating
  • Dexter Pool Party

Get creative, because no one wants to go to yet another Mad Hatter Tea Party this year.

P.S. If you’re asking why I don’t throw more parties, why don’t you offer to host a location for me?

I’m Gonna Pop Some Tags

Let me just preface this by saying no one in San Diego says “thrift shop.”  It’s thrift store, Macklemore. Another thing wrong with that song: you won’t get leopard mink for 99 cents unless it truly is drenched in urine. But I gotta love that he’s singing about popping tags instead of bottles. It’s true, one of the joys of coming home with a haul is popping off the tags and getting a second look at those low-low prices.

I tap a yardstick against the wall. The vase is almost as big around as the circle I can make with my arms, but we had just measured its narrow opening. The hole is the right diameter, maybe too snug. But at $20, it’s too much to spend on something used and scratched. I’m annoyed with the pricing. I can tell Katelyn really wants the thing.

Everyone is your friend when you wear these sparkle dresses to the club.

Everyone is your friend when you wear these sparkle dresses to the club.

Erratic pricing is common in almost every thrift store I encounter in San Diego. A lovely peacock-patterned dress sat in St. Vincent de Paul’s for at least a month under a $50 tag because someone saw the original price. It might still be there. Meanwhile I snagged a pristine Betsey Johnson frock for less than $5. I guess it’s difficult to properly value trash that may be treasure. Or, just maybe, the volunteers / minimum wagers who sit in the back room and staple tags directly to garments (and to nylon thigh highs!!) just guesstimate with no supervision.

Weighing price against value is the primary skill to develop when thrifting. Do I like this shirt? Yes? Do I like it 7 dollars worth and knowing I have to find a replacement button? No. I used to go home with a pile of rubbish, or at least clothing that is difficult to absorb into my existing wardrobe. Now my collection is so large I can find a way to wear a pair of tights with tigers on the calves.

I still thrift primarily to impress people at parties. I try to be selective, but having a conversation starter is more valuable to me than closet and floor space. I have a silver sequined skater dress (Ross, $20, a gift) and a gold sequined skater dress (McAllister’s, $3). And if I found a black one for under $10 I’d buy that too.

The part where the upper of the pump touches your heel/ankle is called the counter.

There’s a part of the shoe called the shank! This is exciting.

I’ve sort of developed a strategy for getting through thrift stores quickly and without “splurging” too much. If my thrifting partner is easily bored, I’ll want to have at least examined the necessities — so first I beeline for the shoes. I stalk down every aisle, scanning with a jittery gaze. Pumps are easy to score because I wear size 8s. For a $3 pair of skyscrapers, I’ll jam my toes into a size 7.5 and drink until I can’t feel them. Looser heels can be made to fit with gel inserts; one is placed in the ball of the foot, and one is cut into strips to adhere to the inside of the counter (see diagram).

Next, lately, I hunt for leather in the outwear section. I’m looking for something amazing, something I’m willing to drop $30 or even $40 to own. Recently I acquired a black plether member’s-only jacket for $5. It will tide me over, but is already missing buttons.

If you really want attention for pennies, look for a ridiculous t-shirt. Since I’m lucky enough to fit into a Juniors medium or small, I shop in the boy’s section. Items of that size are misplaced there and/or boys have cool shirts. I scored both Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus concert tees on the same day, for less than 50 cents each after discounts. I thought maybe I could turn little boy shirts into crop tops, but I ruined one with sloppy scissor work. For 70 cents it was worth the experiment. Maybe I’ll find a way to save Mr. Kitty with Laser Beams Coming out of his Eyes.

Finally, I weave through the rest of the store before heading to checkout. By now I’m too eager to move on to the next store to waste my money on anything else unless it is extraordinary, like wheels I can attach to my shoes... Old Sami would have bought the Coach leather satchel for $17. New Sami didn’t because the bronze fittings don’t match her larger Coach messenger bag of the same style, the stitching on the handle seemed less than perfect, and she was thirsty and too impatient to make a $17 decision.

We’re at the large purple vase again. Katelyn is on her haunches, deciding. I want to tell her to buy it. I see the defeated look start to creep into her eyes. But $20 is not justifiable. “Manager Special” we hear come over the PA, “now all tags are half off. All colors of tags are half off, except furniture.” $10? Sold.

We get an opportunity to use the vase at a party that same week. One of Katelyn’s many hookah stems fits snug in the vase. She already had a matching purple hose. Filled with water, large as it is, the vase is heavy and stable. It looks like the caterpillar’s pipe and I’m Alice in Wonderland.

Katelyn's planning to use this purple vase with her 3 hose hookah next.

Katelyn’s planning to use this purple vase with her 3 hose pipe!