A black and white birthday party is an opportunity to get sophisticated. Truman Capote's 1966 high society Black and White Ball, held at New York's Plaza Hotel, is legendary, and so is Cecil Beaton's black and white design for the Ascot scene in "My Fair Lady" (1964), which inspired Capote. If you're throwing a black and white birthday party, you have a lot to live up to, but fortunately the elegance of the colour scheme makes it easy to succeed.
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The dress code is the essential element of a black-and-white party, since it challenges guests to look their best using only black and white. If your guests will be unfamiliar with the concept or you have other dress expectations, like formal wear, let guests know on the invitation (which will, of course, use only black and white). You may also want to suggest some fashion reference points. A black and white theme is a statement of elegant simplicity, so encourage guests to take inspiration from '50s icons of elegance such as Audrey Hepburn (who starred in "My Fair Lady") and Grace Kelly. Men can dress in tuxedos or, for a slightly less formal party, black trousers and a white suit jacket. You may want to follow Capote's lead and make your black-and-white birthday party a masquerade. Guests can easily find black and white masks at costume stores. Black-and-white parties also work with a 1960s Mod theme. Think of the geometric designs of Rudi Gernreich. For a contemporary touch, guests could wear zebra or black-and-white leopard print. The more elaborate the dress required, the earlier you should send out invitations to give your guests time to find an outfit.
Decorating for a black-and-white theme birthday party is simple, since black and white balloons and crepe paper are easy to find. Check party suppliers for elegant black-and-white design party cups, plates and napkins. You can introduce silver accents in the form of candlesticks or balloons. Flowers, however, are a challenge with this theme. Fun Party Theme Ideas suggests making tissue paper flowers by gathering the paper in the centre and securing it with black or white pipe cleaners.
Food will present you with more of a challenge for this theme, so think creatively. For the birthday cake, an Oreo cake is a choice. Fix up vanilla ice cream sundaes with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. Lay out white and dark chocolates interspersed with silver-wrapped Hershey's kisses, or fill bowls with black and white jelly beans. For snacks, think along the lines black olives and feta cubes or black bread with goat cheese or ricotta spread, at least if caviar is outside your budget.
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