How to Have a Game of Thrones Party and Feast like Winter is Coming
Kay gives her tips on throwing a Game of Thrones party with food, decorations and costume ideas on the cheap.
As someone who was born remarkably close to Halloween, I’ve had my fair share of Halloween birthday parties. It’s the same every year. Spooky lighting, an array of lacklustre costumes and “creepy” themed food. But this year I wanted to do something amazing. This year, I wanted to throw a Game of Thrones party. And I wanted to do it in style.
I began by creating a Facebook event a month and a half in advance; hardly the stuff of Lannisters and Starks, but giving people enough notice to really think about their costumes was crucial. And it meant that, in the weeks leading up to the event, I could build some serious hype.
I’m talking discussions about Medieval Buttered Beer and Hot Cider. I’m talking about discussions about our fave GoT characters. I’m talking people FIGHTING for the right to dress as Jon Snow, or Daenerys, or Arya Stark. Each week, I would post a photo or question and watch as guests got themselves worked up into a stupor over it. And, as discussions grew more fevered, so too did people’s desire to create a great costume.
So far, so good.
Next came decor. I’m not a celebrity with a party planner, so I had to rely on my own wonga and creativity to transform my home from 1930s semi-detached into King’s Landing. And, as it turns out, Wilkinsons was the place to do this.
Oh yeah. Wilkinsons.
I dragged my boyfriend around the store, grabbing votive candles in a variety of sizes and colours. The flickering flames would lend, I reasoned, an old worldly air to surroundings – not to mention cast some awesome shadows.
My basket soon reached overflowing point, with a red bed sheet (my tablecloth), a string of raven lights, a few disposable party platters (in silver) and red napkins.
I also grabbed, in the toys section, three model dragons. Tom, being Tom, tried to laugh me out of the tacky plastic figures, but I was adamant I could make them work.
Next, the Pound Store, where I picked up some seriously awesome looking gold paper plates for (you guessed it) a pound. Not to mention a packet of plastic goblets, for buttered beer and mulled wine supping.
Finally, I paid a trip to my local garden centre and purchased, for a cool 4 pound each, two glass decanters. Well, plastic decanters. But they looked like the real thing – and they’d do perfectly for my wine, I reasoned.
Guess how much this map cost. Go on, have a guess…
Tom, meanwhile, had been shopping online and managed to bag a huge map of Westeros for (wait for it) FOUR HUMAN PENCE, not to mention Baratheon and Lannister scarves (to be used as banners) and an official set of Game Of Thrones coasters, which featured the sigils of each of the houses.
I also made sure to check in with my parents, my grandad and my boyf’s mother, which led to me procuring a golden goblet, faux golden plates, a silver tankard, a golden stag, slate placemats, a wooden treasure chest some PR had sent me (more on this later), a handful of skull-shaped shot glasses and several straw baskets. All of which were PERFECT.
Game of Thrones Party Decorations
Remember my three Wilkinsons dragons? I took these bad boys and my wooden chest, popped them inside it, positioning them so they seemed as if they were flying out and ready to burn someone. This made a perfect centrepiece for the mantelpiece.
Wildfire is bright green, right? We’ve seen it. I took my skull shot glasses and filled them to the brim with a budget version of Apple Sourz. Simple!
Ah, the candles. I had a LOT of these to work with, so I clustered them in groups of varying size and dotted them about the place (using the slate placemats as holders). I positioned plenty by the dragons and the wildfire, but also made sure to position several beneath my Westeros map (which was hanging in the middle of the room). To break it up, I positioned the golden stag in the middle of the candles – very Baratheon – and made sure not to neglect the patio area. Candles. Candles everywhere. You can never have too many candles, Game Of Thrones fans!
I used the scarves Tom had procured me, draping them around the room to add a bit of colour and GoT sizzle to the party. But it would be just as easy to craft some from strips of an old red or yellow bed sheet. Get creative!
Remember that red bed sheet? That became my tablecloth. I also grabbed an old black pashmina and ran it down the middle like a table runner, to help add a little extra something.
Party Food and Feasting:
The biggest part of a GoT banquet is, of course, the food. People underestimate how amazing food can look if its prepared in style – and I was willing to put the hours in to get myself a table even Sansa Stark wouldn’t turn her nose up at.
Bread and salt:
To show my guests I meant them no murderous intent, I loaded up on bread rolls. They were cheap, crusty and from the reduced section at my local supermarket. But, after sprinkling some flour over them and tossing them into my straw baskets, they began to look ultra rustic and authentic. I also made sure to serve up pure salt crystals in a small dish alongside them. It ain’t bread if there’s no salt, yeah?
Ah, meat. Delicious meat. The staple of any medieval banquet, I’d say, especially if Robert Baratheon has his say on the matter. Again, I shopped in the reduced section and picked up two roast chickens, a gammon joint and a helluva loada chicken pieces too. I displayed them on one of the silver platters, stuck a knife in them and moved on to…
Pork pies are mentioned in the books, often, and look amazingly old worldy, I bagged two of the larger ones, cut a slice from one to showcase the juicy pink goodness within and served them up in a gold plate, complete with cocktail sausages and two large scotch eggs (halved, to show the egg).
If you head out with a budget and a mission to thrill, you can work magic. I bagsied a bargain party cheese selection box from the Reduced aisle and displayed them on a golden plate. With a knife. And a knob of butter, for good measure.
Vegetarians were treated to tartlets and a Higgledy Piggledy vegetable pie. Again, it was all about wandering through the Special Offer sections and locating the most rustic looking thing. Popped it on a golden plate and voila! Dinner was served.
To add some colour, I dug around i ln the freezer and located two bags of roasting vegetables. Carrots, parsnips and swede. These I shoved in the oven with two packets of Aunt Bessie’s roasting potatoes, shuffled them onto a silver platter and watched the hungry hoards fall upon them like Dothraki savages.
Grapes and apples, guys. Grapes and bloody apples. On a gold plate. Bish bash bosh, instant medieval nosh.
I got lucky here. A bake sale at work led me to buying a huge fruit cake for under three quid. I also abused the supermarkets’ desire to flog iced mince pies at two boxes for a pound and used them to create a circle of icy joy around my fruit cake. Looks good, huh?
See above in Decor.
I served up red and mulled wine, displaying the former in my special glass decanter and the latter…well, secretly in a saucepan in the kitchen. I added a spoonful of honey to each, to pay homage to the honeyed wines spoken of in the book.
You think the Lannisters would drink Fosters? Think again. Using my boyfriend’s ridiculous knowledge of craft beer, I sought out good quality and hoppy IPAs, such as those brewed by Brewdog, and darker English ales, like London pride, to keep things good and delicious.
I went for Schloer. It looks just like white wine, so looked great in the second decanter, and tastes delicious. Perfect for all the sober drivers.
The entire Game Of Thrones soundtrack is available on YouTube, making for three hours of dramatic drums and horns and strings.
Game of Thrones Costumes
Not a single person came out of costume. Whether they’d customised a store-bought costume like me (a £19 red hooded gothic vampire became Melisandre, when teamed with an Oxfam red gem necklace), made it from scratch (Tom bought materials to become a cosplay style Robb Stark), searched eBay for a medieval cossie, raided their wardrobes for a simple Dothraki / Litttlefinger’s working girl look, come in a dragon or wolf onesie, or done something completely different, they all made an effort. And there were a LOT of handmade furry capes and plastic swords in attendance. Some might say too many, almost. I almost had a Red Wedding on my hands!
In short, it was an amazing party. Crowded, mind, but amazing. The photos were epic, the Game Of Thrones debates were frenzied and the food was all gone by the end of it. Which is always a sign of a great night. The only issue was cleaning up the next day – I could have used a handmaiden or eunuch to sort it for me while I slept. Next time, eh?