An "Arabian Nights" themed party invites guests to leave their troubles behind for the evening and revel in an exotic, fantastical atmosphere. Whether the venue is a rooftop in Marrakesh or your tiny backyard in Poughkeepsie, New York, plan the food, decorations and details to entice all five senses with the enchanting flavours of the Middle East.
Magic Carpet Cocktail
Buy ingredients for an out-of-the-ordinary cocktail, such as the Paulistano Beleza, which combines strawberries, cranberry juice, sugar and a Brazilian liqueur called cachaca. (Unless you're a seasoned mixologist, practice mixing it before the party so you know you're doing it right.) When handing out cocktails at the party, tell guests it's a "Magic Carpet." Alternately, just rename a classic, popular drink like sangria or the Cosmopolitan. Or invent your own delicious cocktail recipe and name it something that carries a whiff of ancient myth and magic, like "Magic Carpet," "Magic Lamp" or "Aladdin's Lamp."
Play a mixture of traditional and modern Arabic music to form an aural backdrop to the party. Arabic music often boasts a highly danceable rhythm. Pick up a mix CD like Putamayo World Music's "Arabic Groove." Make a reusable, portable Arabian-Nights-style dance floor by digitally dividing a photograph of a Persian rug into pieces sized for standard printers. Print each piece. Assemble the rug collage on top of sheets of wood. Secure the "rug" to the wood sheets with découpage paste. Paint one or more layers of heavy clear varnish over the tops and sides of the sheets. Paint the edges of the sheets white so they stand out (so people will be less likely to trip).
Serve a tantalising spread of Middle Eastern foods under a red canopy tent draped with fabric. (Velvet curtains can sometimes be found for a song at second-hand stores.) The Middle Eastern category on Epicurious.com offers mouthwatering ideas for such a banquet, such as cardamom milk pudding, lamb kofte with yoghurt sauce and muhammara, cracked wheat salad with green olives and golden raisins and grilled lamb and fig skewers with mint-pepper glaze.