I love my job.
Each January, the company throws a “Year Beginning Dinner.” Roughly a hundred people need to be wined, dined, and, with luck, entertained.
Our theme this year was Titanic.
Though the event was geared for a large group, the ideas and activities could easily be scaled down for a dinner party or even an older child’s birthday party.
Invitations & correspondence:
For this event I used primarily Legal Tender, Elephant, and Fairfax Station fonts (all free), which have a formal, early-20th-century look. Graphics of the White Star Line logos are widely available on line. PaperDirect sells a nice heavy paper with a tear-off bottom which is perfect for RSVPs.
Venue & Decor:
The dinner was held at Amalfi on the Water, a fantastic restaurant which is literally at the ocean’s edge, so minimal decoration was required. Nancy and her staff transformed the space into a first-class dining room – tables for ten with white tablecloths, low floral centerpieces (from Dean’s) and tea lights. Dave created a wonderful ice sculpture of the ship’s stern as it plunged beneath the waves (shown here somewhat late in the evening, but you get the idea. That's Nancy in the background. That woman never quits).
Except for the nor’easter that blew itself silly until 4 p.m. the day of the event, the weather conditions closely replicated those of the night of April 14, 1912. Can I take credit for that?
We didn’t attempt to recreate the final dinner on the Titanic, just let Dave do his thing. There were five courses, each a delight. I ate to my Spanx-imposed limit and beyond.
|Course #3: Haddock Chowder|
Lots of people dressed the part – I counted two tuxedos, one velvet smoking jacket, a number of first-class ladies, a boiler stoker and a deck hand, among others.
“Become” an actual Titanic passenger. Will you (and your family or traveling companions) survive the disaster?: I provided a selection of passenger and crew identities, including biographical information, on a 4x6 cards. Guests chose a card when they arrived. At another place in the restaurant we stationed a corresponding (alphabetical) list of passengers with details about whether they survived (and, if so, how the rest of their lives turned out), so guests could find out if they were one of the lucky ones.
· Biographical information on Titanic passengers is available on the internet. Pay attention to copyrights.
· The master data was compiled in Excel and mail-merged into a Word template for 4x6 perforated postcards.
· The survivor list was copied from Excel into a table in Word for easier formatting, then printed on 11x17 paper.
· It was helpful to have more postcards than guests.
“Titanic Trivia” Scavenger Hunt: This consisted of a page of trivia questions which could be answered by careful survey of the informational posters we had placed around the restaurant. The winner got an iPad.
· Posters were created in Publisher and printed in full color on 11x17” paper.
· The fonts were large enough and posters spaced so that people could read without crowding.
· Copyrights again….
I steered clear of the overpriced Titanic-specific stuff. There are affordable and surprisingly nice nautical tchotchkes at http://www.handcraftednauticaldecor.com/. At each place setting we put either a spyglass in a wooden and brass-inlaid box, a brass anchor paperweight, or a brass pocket compass.
We hired a DJ for background music during cocktail hour and dinner, then we finished the evening with some serious dancing. There were the customary speeches and few nice door prizes. Taxi service was available at the end of the evening for anyone who shouldn’t drive. We also make our corporate rate available to employees who wish to spend the night at a local hotel.
All in all, it was a very nice evening.