Susan in Northridge, CA USA
My co-workers and I decided to do a chic Paris Bistro party for our friend who was turning 40. She had always wanted to go to Paris by the time she was 40 so we brought it to her. The best thing about this party was it didn't cost very much because we used things that people had around the house. I put out an all call for hats, hat boxes, scarves, hand bags, umbrellas, perfume bottles - anything that would go with a French haute couture type environment. We didn't send out formal invitations since it was at work during a work day but we made up for it with atmosphere. When you walked in the door, it felt like you were walking into a cool little shop that sells awesome vintage clothing and great food. I took an ordinary ladder, covered it with a white cotton table cloth and put black and red items on each step. There was a picture of a sexy black dress on the top rung, a little black purse, a pill box hat and some gloves on the second step, a perfume bottle and another hat on the third step and a gorgeous hat box on the botton. We had a few items spilling out of the open box top. In each corner of the room, we stacked chairs on top of one another, again covered them with a cloth and then placed various items like a window dressing - gloves, hats, china, bottles, etc. We even replaced the boring old wall clock with a pretty one. We had clear strands of light all around the room and we drew all the blinds except one. Behind the blind we put a black and white poster of the Eiffel Tower so it looked like you saw it out the window. On the eating tables, we had center pieces of wine bottles with taper candles, or pretty little vases with flowers or cool plates on plate stands. We had pretty little beaded candle holders with tea lights at each table and Parisian coasters. The sound track to Moulin Rouge played in the background. We covered up the tv/vcr with yet another cloth and hung a black velvet dress with a lace shawl and a beautiful hat and umbrella on it. We placed several Picasso inspired scarves on the backs of the boring chairs and voila - enter another world. We turned all the lights off and lit only one candle on the food table. We offered croissants, baguettes, brie, fresh fruit, creme brulee french toast, scrambled eggs, tiny fruit tarts, different kinds of juices and coffee with international creamers. The total expense for food, flowers and table ware was probably around $150 - not bad for 30 people. Several of us even went back to Paris during lunch. It was a great day and the birthday girl felt as though she had had her trip to Paris. We tricked her into thinking she had a meeting to attend and she was pleasantly surprised as she walked in the room. We had her blow out the one lit candle as we sang happy birthday.