How does a gal who grew up in the 1970’s in Southern California in a basement-less home decide to host a basement-party themed celebration? I love the way middle-class parties were done in the 1950’s – 1970’s and I spent a year as a child living with my grandmother in the Pacific Northwest where she had an incredible basement and I attended a few basement parties in my friend’s homes. It always felt like a private world away from “reality” and lots of open space to just “hang”. Fast forward to 2014, where it felt like a fun and inspired twist to a “happy hour”. Throw in my passion for music and love of the sound of music on vinyl with all the pops and scratches, and I suppose it makes me feel nostalgic for my youth and comforted in the fun of the “good ol’ days”. I thought it would be a refreshing approach to blend cocktails and vinyl for an evening of relaxation with friends. Also, from an event standpoint, I am known for wanting to give my guests an “experience”, so when they enter any event of mine- personal or private- I want them to “feel” differently and have the opportunity to do and experience things that they wouldn’t normally.
One of the most common statements I hear as an event planner is, “You must love hosting your own personal parties and do them all the time, don’t you?” Actually, because what I do for a living can be so intense, detailed, demand 24/7 of my time and require so much planning, I prefer not to carry this over into my personal life. Don’t get me wrong, I love to entertain, but the parties I host are few and far in between. But when I do host them, I like to relax and have fun with my guests. The first party I hosted in our new home last year had me trying to greet guests, take their coats and drink orders as they arrived, only to forget who ordered what on my way to the kitchen because I would be stopped by other guests to visit and catch up. I nearly imploded. So, for my next gathering, I knew I would do a self-service bar.
The Inspiration: An old-fashioned, vintage “basement” vinyl party where guests bring their favorite records to play on a record player; a make-your-own-martini bar with sweet and savory martinis and really cheezey appetizers that were not especially health-conscious.
The Style: Relaxed, “come as you are” , drop in between 4:30 and 9pm (note: guests had a ball with this and some showed up after work in work attire, some glammed up a bit, some dressed in 1980’s/1990’s dance attire and one threatened to wear vinyl as a joke).
Special Touches: A n authentic vintage glass cocktail shaker, special menus posted on how to make your own martini, board games placed strategically throughout the house and yard, wine glass markers to write your name on your glass, vintage prizes (candy & mini liquor bottles reminiscent of the 1960’s and 1970’s) for the following categories of vinyls: Oldest, Oldest Rock -n-Roll, Oldest Jazz and Grand Prize for the Cheeziest Vinyl (which , by the way, went to the owner of an old Jazzercise record with a “wild and woolly workout” promised on the cover). Photo of the latter below.
Noshes: Basement party grub, of course! For me, this was popcorn, potato chips with onion dip, tortilla chips and salsa, fresh fruit, brownie and lemon dessert bites, pigs in a blanket, cheeseburger sliders, mini pizzas (that ended up not being that great- but again, it’s a basement party and almost anything goes and is very forgiving).
The Bar: Make Your Own Martinis: Classic, Dirty, Lemon and Chocolate | Firestone ales, White and Red Wine | Gentleman Jack Whiskey | Non-alcoholic beverage options included Italian Sodas and Lemonade, Water and Coca Cola in Glass Bottles.
The Best Part: Basement parties were always rather spontaneous and you grabbed what you could and it didn’t have to match. It is easy on the budget because eclectic works and you can’t over-think or over-plan too much (which I love). From the kitschy martini picks I used (multiple colors, too short) to non-matching bowls and plates for my appetizers, blazing pink coasters and polka-dot cocktail napkins, there is no such thing as “wrong” with decor and special touches for a basement party.