Downton Abbey Staff Christmas Party

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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?

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  • 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.

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Other dignified Downton Abbey resources:

What would you have at your dream Downton Abbey party?

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