March 26, 2013

Phantom of the Opera Party

My friend, Bonnie Shivley, of Missouri, is a contributing editor to She recently threw a fabulous Phantom of the Opera theme party for her friends. I got the invitation but was unable to attend, so I missed a wonderful evening. Here is how she did it.
Bonnie writes:
There was snow and ice that night and only seven of my original fourteen guests were able to make it. I knew each of these women has had things particularly hard lately, and my goal was an evening to forget about our troubles and get lost in romance and feminine kinship. I am happy to report, I have achieved this. Sometimes we get so caught up in our stresses for so long, we forget how important it is to let go and have a little simple fun.  The Bible says that laughter is the best medicine.
I went for a pajama party instead of period costumes. One reason was I knew more than half of my guests do not possess costumes, homemade or otherwise. I didn’t want them to have to spend money to attend my party. Also, we were, after all, just lounging around the living room watching a movie. I wanted all to feel completely comfortable and relaxed. Thirdly, it helped to stress this was a GIRLS' NIGHT only. No guys were allowed to spoil the mood. Guys just don't "get it." As it turned out, only a few of us actually wore jammies. It was so cold, some were afraid if they had an accident on the icy roads... Well, they didn't want to be stranded in pajamas in the bitter cold. Can't say I blame them one bit! After I passed around pillows and cuddly blankies, we were all pretty comfortable, whether in jammies or jeans.
dim lighting during viewing adds to the romance

I wish I knew how to explain the feelings that night. We experienced everything from awe and wonder, to tears and to laughter. Comments after viewing the movie, Phantom of the Opera, starring Gerard Butler, ranged from sophisticated to panting over the two male leads. There were giggles and sighs, and I tried to fill in info the movie leaves out, but the original book by Gaston Leroux explains. I got a lot of, "Oh, I’ve always wondered about that!" from the gals who have seen it before, and a lot of questions from the gals who haven't. I encouraged them all to read the novel then watch the movie again. You get so much more out of it that way. Also, every time I watch it, I discover something new.

I wanted to show the girls what a "theme" party is supposed to be and that even the food can follow a theme. I think they all thought I was being a bit eccentric, until they got here and saw the results. The ambiance was truly magical, as I watched the faces, ages 16 to 70, as well as a 7 and a 10-year-old, take in the wonder around them. We all had a common bond that night, so you would never know there were any age differences at all.

My granddaughter and great niece really got into the spirit of the evening. I gave them long white gloves, fans and masquerade masks, and they dug through the dress-up box to find some old prom dresses which completed their costumes for the evening.
The Mood:
I wanted a dramatic mood for the evening. To that end, I placed dark red roses against black table coverings. A single rose with a ring tied to the stem by black ribbon, just like the rose the phantom left on Christine's headstone was placed here and there and seemed better than overdoing it with too many. But then, in out-of-the-way areas, I overflowed vases with roses to mimic the flowers showered upon the performers in the opera. Crystal serving dishes and candle holders against the black and silver tulle fabric lent the contrast necessary to create a feeling of drama. I created a secondary mood of romance with dimmed lighting and candle light. The house lights never came up until the movie ended and we were ready to hold the drawing for the prizes. The hushed mood of wonder was broken and changed immediately to one of partying and loud chattering and laughter. I owe much of this to my daughter, Jessi, who has theater experience and was able to coach me on how to capture my guests' imaginations and create the atmosphere I wanted.
a single rose on black and silver
a gathering of roses
The Decorations:
The black ribbon was on sale at Wal-Mart. The popcorn box and the costume engagement ring were also on sale at Party Outlet. Fans came from Oriental Trading Company, on sale, with free shipping. All candles, candle holders, glitter and glitter garlands were purchased at the Dollar Store, as well as the mirrors under them. The masks and gloves were deeply discounted after Halloween. The pearls are from my own jewelry box, so cost is zero. The table cloth is black plastic from Party Outlet. It’s reusable, as is the tulle covering, which was purchased on sale at Hobby Lobby. The black and red cloth coverings for the entertainment center, end tables, and gift bar are pieces of cloth I already had. I recycle all that I possibly can. The serving dishes on the table that look like fancy crystal and silverware are really just disposable plastic from the Dollar Store and grocery store, respectively. They are heavy enough that I will use them again. It's amazing the great prices you can get when you know exactly what you are looking for, and hold out for after-holiday-sales. If you plan your theme party months in advance, you can take advantage of so many great opportunities! I could have made some of these things by hand, like the fans and masks, but at the prices I found, it was not only easier, but more cost efficient to buy them.
mask, cucumbers and olives
candles on mirrors, roses and more roses

white gloves, pearls, fans, sparkle

mask, candles, silver napkins and silverware
The Gift Bar:
Each guest went home with a movie theater gift bag full of goodies, a long stemmed rose with the ring tied to the stem with black ribbon, and a hand held fan. All the goodies were trinkets bought at the dollar store, or on sale at the local Walgreens. I tried to stay with the theme of love when purchasing the trinkets. All gift roses were purchased on sale from the local Mays Drug after Valentine Day. All other roses were purchased in bunches at the dollar store. The two little girls each received a larger popcorn bag filled with love themed and/or dress-up themed items.
fans, champagne glasses, popcorn boxes on red with silver dazzle

I also held a drawing after the movie. Each adult guest had written her name on the back of a ticket. I printed my own tickets using clip art on my computer, and put them in a large popcorn bag. The little girls drew the names of the winners. There were 3 wrapped gifts, and the winners chose their own gift. Prizes included a Phantom movie DVD, on sale in Wal-Mart's bargain bin for $5.00, a movie sound track CD, on sale at, and a copy of the book, also on sale at
The Buffet Table:
Our menu included Apple Cashew Salad, Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes, Sugar and Spice Nuts, Croissant Sandwiches with assorted meats, cheeses, and a yummy Hawaiian sandwich spread, Cucumber Open Face Sandwiches, Veggie & Fruit Plates with Dips, and assorted cookies, including Ginger Snaps. I read these cookies, in particular, were quite authentic to parties of that time period, Paris, 1869.  Oh yes, and I threw a few relishes out there, too. I served sparkling apple cider that looked, to all the world, like bubbly champagne. The champagne flutes are disposable plastic, and were purchased at the grocery store.
By far, the biggest hits were three dishes from Jane Marie’s own web site, They included Apple Cashew Salad
(, ALWAYS a big hit, and I ALWAYS get requests for the recipe, Bacon Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes ( ), stuffed with bacon, green onion and mayo, and a Goodbye Lie favorite, Sugar and Spice Nuts ( ). Oh my! They all loved those wonderful pecans!
As my friends departed, without exception, each person said to me, "I so very much needed a night like this!" And each wants to know when I will do it again. Hmm... The ideas are already flowing!