Idea No.


Margaritaville -40yr- Coconuts, Bananas & Limes



November 2005


Judi in New York, NY

Special Mention

Margaritaville Party

Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffett themed birthday party  For my sister's 40th birthday I decided to throw a surprise party based on her love of Jimmy Buffett's music and Key West. 

Since two people were paying for the party for 90 guests, we wanted it to be fantastic but also wanted to keep the budget under control.  So I did much of the work myself, including some of the cooking.  I limited that cooking to items that were simple to make AND would have cost me many times the actual cost to have catered (like Penne Vodka, Pineapple Chicken, Pernil, spiral sliced ham, roasted potatoes, string beans almondine). I felt it was better to put money toward the things that mattered to party-goers, like music and atmosophere. 

The invitations were printed on 8 1/2 x 11" paper depicting lovely sunsets on the beach which were purchased in the scrapbooking section of a major crafts store.  Guests were encouraged to wear their "Key West best" for music, margaritas and fun.  I rented a party room in a small yacht club on the Long Island Sound.  The large party room overlooking the water was decorated with dimensional paper fish and parrots, the obligatory inflatable shark (FINS UP) and pirate flags. 

The tables were covered in five bright tropical colors.  The centerpieces were low, round vases meant for floating candles.  I filled them with some sand, placed a short pillar candle (also in a variety of tropical colors) and then placed small sea shells, sea glass and a cocktail umbrella in each vase.  Leis, hibiscus straws and genuine Margaritaville coasters were placed on each table.  The plates, napkins and cutlery was also purchased in bright coordinating colors.  The buffet tables were covered in disposable tablecloths with limes printed on them and green fishing nets were placed on top of the cloths. 

The food tables were decorated with real coconuts, baby bananas, key limes, tiny princess pineapples and large dry starfish.  A 4 foot tall inflatable Margarita was purchased from Ebay and lent a fun vibe to the party.  Our deejay played Jimmy Buffett favorites, some Bob Marley tunes, lots of our favorite rock and dance songs and everyone was on their feet most of the evening.  The limbo was the big hit of the evening with people of every age getting into the act.  A simple bamboo pole was used.  Only two props were given out by the deejay; mutli-colored flashing mouth pieces (a big hit) and mini umbrellas given out while "It's Raining Men" was played.   

The food was a mix of true New York eats as well as some Caribbean favorites including some authentic Caribbean Pernil (garlic roasted pork) accommpanied by Arroz con Gandules.  Pineapple Chicken and Coconut Chicken were crowd favorites.  Margaritas were the beverage of choice for the evening, dispensed from a borrowed frozen drink maker as well as a Jose Cuervo Margarita Ball.  The birthday girl's favorite cake was decorated simply with accents of tropical colors and then topped off with two salt shakers shaped as a cheeseburger (in paradise) and a margarita purchased from the Margaritaville restaurant in Key West.   

Kids had their own table, expertly arranged by the birtday girl's 10 year old daughter.  A good mixture of pirate eye patches, head scarves, gold plastic and foil covered chocolate dubloons, as well as some small games, "dragonfly eyes" and stickers galore to decorate the tablecloth with were purchased at a party supply store, along with stickers and such featuring the kid-favorite, Sponge Bob Square Pants (well, he DOES live under the sea...close enough for a Key West party).  The online store at the Margaritaville restaurant in Key West provided some good favor items to be placed on each table including "Fins Up" bracelets, margarita flavored lip balm, salt shakers with "Searching for my lost shaker of salt" imprinted on them, Margaritaville magnets and t-shirts.   

SOURCES: All decorations; leis, grass skirts, food picks, cocktail umbrellas and the starfish were purchased from Oriental Trading Company.  The bamboo "limbo" pole was purchased at Home Depot.  Fruits used for table decorations were purchased at a larger supermarket that carries a selection of unusual produce.  All elements of the centerpieces were purchased at Walmart.  The Key West Margaritaville, accessed online, was an invaluable resource for well-priced Margaritaville and Jimmy Buffett items.  Wonderful recipes can be found abundantly at

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