If you’re going to plan a Christmas party for 100+ librarians, you make it Downton Abbey themed and you put doilies on everything.
I was party of a 4 person Staff Christmas Party Planning Committee and we decided to go all out: Downton Abbey style. Like any staff Christmas party, hours of work went into this: picking a caterer, securing a venue, designing the invites, securing a liquor license, crafting decorations, buying fascinator materials, nitpicking excel documents, securing prizes, etc.
In the end it was a smashing success! I’ve been asked to put together a resource in case other librarians want to throw a Downton Abbey party (for their staff…or for themselves).
How to Plan a Delightful Downton Abbey Party
- Pick an interesting venue. THEMUSEUM opened up their exhibits to us for 1 hour during the party, which gave everyone a chance to explore and experiment. Another contender was a beautiful old mansion in the area (a common wedding venue), that looked a lot like Downton.
- Send a survey to staff. It’s impossible to please everyone, but at least you can find out how to statistically please the most people! We asked whether staff would be interested in a morning, afternoon, or evening party, and if they had any ideas or concerns. The feedback we received definitely shaped our decisions.
- Play a low key mingle game. One of the most common survey responses we got was “have activities that force mingling.” We created a list of 55 matching pairs (classic book titles and their authors) and printed out 110 stickers – one for everyone. As they arrived, guests received a sticker at random, and were instructed to keep an eye out for their match. When found, they could go to the bar and fill out a ballot together for a draw. If you get really creative, you could try to make Downton themed matches instead.
- Have a maker station. Children’s programmers like to craft on their own time too! We set up one long table with two crafts: Bowties and fascinators. Beforehand, we glued mini cupcake wrapper cups to hair clips, and cut out Bristol board bow-tie shapes attached with string. On the table were all sorts of fun craft supplies: feathers, rhinestones, stick on pearls, markers, glitter tape, beautiful ribbons, glue guns, etc. I was SO impressed with the creativity, quality, and quantity of fascinators made by our staff! The wine probably helped a little.
- Have a bar. We had a very popular wine bar, but we also provided non-alcoholic drinks for anyone who didn’t want to drink. I tried to get “treats” that people wouldn’t usually have at home like Arizona Ice Tea and Jones Soda. If budget allowed, I think having a Downton themed cocktail or mocktail would be very cool.
- Make Downton Centerpieces. These were a huge hit, and extremely easy to make. I printed out photos of Downton Abbey from this blog, used an Xacto knife to cut out a few windows on each, folded them up, and put one dollar store LED candle in each. Easy peasy! We put one on each table, some with a crocheted doily underneath.
- Make doily bunting. We went low key with our doily bunting – doilies cut in half and stapled to twine – but there are many other examples online. We were lucky to have a committee member who had tons of doilies left over from her wedding – but you can grab them at thrift stores too!
- Use your collection. We played the Downton Abbey Christmas CD during the event – it is delightful. We also projected the Season 2 Christmas Special on a wall with subtitles. Why not?
- Bring in a live jazz band. Because everyone will love it.
- Plan a British Menu. Our caterer, Gusto, was amazing. They worked with us to plan a British themed menu (Yorkshire pudding, chicken pot pies, scones, etc.) that everyone loved.
- Make an awesome invitation. We had local artist Danny Fast do a custom design for our invitations. It helped set the tone and get people excited for our unique party. Danny did it for free because he’s the best boyfriend ever.
Other dignified Downton Abbey resources:
- Hilarious Downton Abbey Paper Dolls
- Baking with Tea recipes
- Adorable Downton Abbey Trivia (answers at bottom here)
- Fascinator Inspiration
- Downton Abbey Photo Booth props
What would you have at your dream Downton Abbey party?