Cheers to the island getaway. As summer approaches and you start craving that beachy breeze, don't fret if you can't scurry to the party-packed island of Jamaica just yet. Kick off the summer with a Jamaican-themed party. Invite your family and friends over for a day of fun filled with games, island cuisine and, of course, reggae.
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Food: Bring on the Jerk
Food is a major part of the party. Typically, Jerk chicken, oxtails, curry chicken, plantains, rice and peas, festival bread, beef and chicken patties, and ackee and saltfish are the most popular Jamaican dishes, and tend to be the dishes that Americans like the most (see Resources for recipes).
Turn Up the Reggae
Turn up the island charm and bring on the reggae. Reggae music was first created in Jamaica in the late 1960s, and travelled to the United States, giving it mainstream popularity. Bob Marley is one of the most famous reggae artists with hits like "Buffalo Soldier," "One Love," "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Redemption Song." His albums, "Confrontation" and "Exodus," are island faves and a great way to start any Jamaican-themed party. "Time Magazine" dubbed Marley's "Exodus" album, the "greatest album of the century." Black Uhuru's "Red" album and Peter Tosh's albums "Legalize It" and "No Nuclear War" are also popular reggae albums. Dancehall music is also a crowd-pleaser at clubs in Jamaica. To throw this into your party mix, sample songs from Elephant Man, Beenie Man, Spragga Benz and Bounty Killer.
The decor of a Jamaican party should be big and bold, much like the culture of the island. Decorate with the Jamaican flag and its colours--red, yellow, green and black, as well as posters that have pictures of the island on it. Posters of Bob Marley, and faux or real coconut shells also add authenticity. Add balloons that are the colours of the flag.
Feature party games that reflect the island's culture and the beauty of the island itself, such as fill-in-the blank games that have only Jamaican terminology or trivia games that focus on the culture and history of the island. While you're blasting reggae music, play musical chairs, or have guests form teams of two to try to guess as many names of the songs as possible and the artists that are singing them. After about 10 songs have been played, give the team with the most right answers a prize. Guests can also play a Jamaican food guessing game, in which they are blindfolded and have to guess the Jamaican dish that they are tasting. This game should be played before dinner or lunch is served, so that guests can't cheat by asking questions about the food at that time.
What to Wear
The vibe of Jamaica is laid back, so the attire required for a Jamaican party should be a reflection of that. Guests should wear casual clothing, such as jeans, T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. Consider wearing the colours of the island's flag.
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