Carnival Party - Venetian Masquerade
Stacie in Rochester, NY USA
Every year we have a huge Halloween party but you can use the idea for any reason. The theme is Venetian masquerade (which is NOT the same thing as Mardi Gras).
I make up fancy invitations on my computer, send them out with a wax seal, and make everyone RSVP or else. Its formal, masks required - masquerade masks, not scary masks.
We play Vivaldi, and I make up a bunch of Italian food and we have a course every hour. So you have to show up on time if you want the antipasti. I try to serve things that my friends wouldn't have tried before in the way they are served in Italy - in several courses, that take a very long time. But its spread out over a long period of time so people don't feel stuffed.
A good idea to have a kitchen savvy helper. Everyone brings $5 or a bottle of wine, but no $5 bottles of wine. I borrow a bunch of card tables and all the silver in my family and set my parlor up like a restaurant.
The only thing about this party is, that it helps to have a big old house to throw it in. I suppose if you have low ceilings and speckled berber carpet it wouldn't be quite as dramatic.
This party goes over very well - people talk about it all year and start telling me about what they're going to wear in August.