An evening in Paris conjures up images of a night filled with sophistication, romance and enchantment. To help you capture that feeling at your next party, bring the magic and glamour of Paris to your home with the right food and decorations.
Create a Mood
Invitations immediately set the tone for an event, so use a famous symbol of the city, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame or a favourite Parisian landmark for inspiration. Or choose well-known French symbols, such as the Fleur de Lis or the French flag as a motif for the invitation.
Another idea is to use French postcards or craft invitations made to look like one-way plane tickets to whisk your guests to the City of Lights. You can also play up the city's vibrant history as an arts centre and create invitations using images by Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet or another favourite artist.
As an extra touch, incorporate easy-to-understand French in the invitation. Start with "bonjour," "salut" or "ciao." Address envelopes with Monsieur/Mademoiselle rather than Mr/Ms. Close with "À bientôt!" which means, "See you soon!"
If you really get into the spirit, you can also ask guests to wear berets, scarves or striped shirts to the party.
Set the Scene
Set a scene inspired by a cafe on one of Paris' grand avenues. Use wrought iron or metal bistro tables and chairs. If that is not possible, cover round tables with red or blue-checked tablecloths. Serve food on paper plates with a French theme, or use the red, white and blue colours from the flag.
Put votive candles and fresh-cut flowers, such as roses, in crystal vases on each table. In general, use red, white, and blue -- the colours of the French flag -- to decorate. A centrepiece with grapes, half of a baguette and a bottle of red wine or Champagne also evokes France. Put small French flags on the tables, or mini-cardboard replicas of the Eiffel Tower.
Set up wheel barrows or wagons to look like carts selling fresh flowers or baguettes. Taller carts can double as a unique food or wine stations.
If you are indoors, you can hang tourist maps of Paris streets or its Metro. To emphasis the city's incredible art, blow up images from renowned artists, and place them on easels. Select music by Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier other famous French singers.
For a truly extravagant event, recreate a street scene. Consider hiring a local artist to set up an easel and bring their palette. Or, perhaps a hire a mime to entertain your guests.
With some planning, French fare can become the perfect party food. Put together interesting cheese platters with Brie, Camembert, chèvre (tangy goat's milk cheese) and a strong blue cheese, such as Roquefort. Serve with grapes, olives, sliced apples and baguettes. Crepes served with chocolate or jam filling make great sweet treats. You can also serve crepes will fillers such as chicken, spinach, cheese and mushrooms for a heavier meal option.
Quiches and vegetable tarts are great make-ahead options. Ratatouille, cassoulet, beef Bourguignon and French stews are hearty entrées that serve a crowd. Serve with red wine or sparkling water.
You may want to consider a menu with crepes or soufflé, but these might be best left to a caterer. These dishes are labour-intensive and should be made to order.
For dessert, consider eclairs, cream puffs, pastries, fruit tarts or sorbets. Satisfy chocolate cravings with chocolate mousse or individual chocolate truffles. Guest with a sweet tooth will be delighted by any of these options. Serve with espresso or Port wine.