Friday, May 3, 2013

Bon Voyage Travel Party

When two of my good friends announced that their time was up in Northern England and that they'd be returning to the States, I knew I wanted to throw them a going away party. Sarah and Kyle have been living in England for five years now and have seen more of the world that most people hope to in a lifetime. I've been lucky enough to travel with them a few times (Egypt, Israel); their spirit of adventure and can-do attitude is infectious.

Picture courtesy of Lisa

Right off the bat I knew I wanted the party to have a travel theme. I scoured Pinterest for inspiration, but unfortunately came of mostly dry. There were a few cute ideas out there, but it seemed like most of the travel-themed parties were for little kids or baby showers. I wanted something a bit more sophisticated. I did find a few gems though, including:

Map bunting [source]; notes to the couple [source]; food labels [source]

First thing I did was design an invitation. I am not a graphic designer by any stretch of the imagination; my skills are pretty limited to what I can do using Microsoft Paint, Powerpoint and Word. Nevertheless, I love the way these invites turned out. They look almost exactly like Northern Rail train tickets. Big thanks to Dan for helping me get the background right. 

I knew that maps would play a key role in most of my decorating, so I started by searching for cheap, old maps that I could cut up. When I found a huge world atlas at my local thrift shop for only £4, I knew I was in luck. The hard-cover book would make excellent decoration on its own, plus the pages were big and brightly colored. Just what I was looking for!

I had no idea that making paper bunting was a) possible and b) so easy! It took a lot less time than my fabric bunting (though I'm still totally in love with that project). This bunting has a lot of visual impact but takes nearly no time at all. And the best part is, it can be made out of anything! 

I simply tore out a few pages from my atlas and cut out a bunch of triangles. Conveniently, the maps were double-sided, so I only needed one sheet per triangle. Then I lined up all my triangles (I used my fabric bunting as a guideline for how many triangles I needed), grabbed my sewing machine and got to work. This was the part I was most nervous about, but it was really easy. You literally just sew the paper across the top. I thought the machine would get stuck in between each triangle, but it didn't. I left some string at the beginning and the end from which to hang it.


I also bought a giant wall map for a few pounds. Dan had a great idea of creating a game where everyone places a sticker on the cities they have visited. We hung an envelope full of stickers and a sheet of instructions on the wall next to the map. It was a really fun, interactive and easy decoration. I was surprised at how in to it people got. There were a lot of animated discussions as people recalled trips they've taken. At the end of the party, we gave the map to Sarah and Kyle as a memento.

Photo courtesy of Lisa

Giant globe balloons I got off Amazon and travel books I borrowed from the library and friends completed the decor.

Passports and Trivia
Aside from the wall map, the main entertainment for the afternoon was a passport trivia game. I made individual passports using blue cardstock, gold letter stickers, and this template for the inside. These didn't take very long and only required some basic cutting and pasting. I put them all in a piece of luggage I got on clearance from T.K. Maxx (the UK version of T.J. Maxx).

Photo courtesy of Lisa

I came up with a list of twelve questions--some relating to Sarah and Kyle, and some general travel trivia. The rules of the game were simple:

Travel Around the World Trivia Game
1. Grab your passport.
2. Locate the 12 trivia questions scattered around the house. The questions are on glass jars with the answers on the bottom.
3. If you get the answer right (without cheating), grab a sticker from the jar and put it in your passport.
4. The person who collects the most passport stamps will get a prize!

I printed passport stamps I found online on sticker paper. I cut each country stamp individually and placed them in glass jars with the trivia question taped to the outside.

My friends are really smart and very well-traveled, so I had to make these questions hard. I may have made them just a smidge too hard though, as the winner of the game only scored 3 out of twelve.

Photo courtesy of Lisa

Children's Table
With several children attending the party, I knew I needed some form of entertainment for them. Luckily, they're all pretty young and easy to please. I printed off a few maps of Europe and the Union Jack; scattered some crayons around the table and let them go to town. I added an inflatable globe and some bubbles for whimsy. I mean, what kind of party would it be without bubbles? :)

Farewell Notes
I loved the idea I saw on Pinterest of writing notes to the couple. It's always such a special treat to receive snail mail, and I thought it would be particularly nice for Sarah and Kyle to get notes from friends here once they're settled in their new house in the States. I bought a bunch of Harrogate postcards at the Tourist Information office. Dan made an adorable mail box out of a cardboard box and pages from the atlas. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take a picture of it.

Photo courtesy of Lisa

What's a party without food and drinks, right? I scheduled the party from 3-7pm so that I wouldn't have to provide a main meal. Still, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of snacks and treats. I continued the travel theme by picking foods from different parts of the world. Then I made labels for each item. At 30 weeks pregnant, Dan convinced me it was OK to delegate some of the party prep, so I asked a few friends to bring food and drinks. What a life-saver that was! I bought a lot of frozen foods (eggrolls, samosas, edamame, profiteroles, and eclairs) and made a simple cheese and cracker plate. The only really time consuming food items I made were the Belgian waffles. With an 18-hour cook time, they are certainly a hassle, but oh-so-worth-it! Dan made delicious individual sticky toffee puddings that were a huge hit.


All in all, I am pretty pleased with the way the party turned out. More importantly, Sarah and Kyle had a great time. Bon Voyage, guys!

1 comment:

  1. SOOOOOO GREAT! Wish I had been there.