Throw a Hunger Games Party

  • 01 of 04

    Throw a Fabulous Hunger Games Party

    Set the scene for a "Hunger Games" feast with DIY mockingjay plates. Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Like "Harry Potter," Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" series may have been aimed at the YA set to begin with, but its 20 million crossover fans include college kids and 20somethings too. Even Kristen Bell, star of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "House of Lies," is such a fan, she threw herself a "Hunger Games"-themed 30th birthday party, complete with Panem decorations and costumes.

    It's a great theme for any 18th (or 20th or 30th) birthday...MORE celebration, a last-night-with-the-high-school-gang gathering - or even Grad Night. Or it is, as long as you don't suggest people play "pin the district on the Panem map."

    So here are some ideas for how to throw a totally memorable party, including decorations, activities, and feasting. (Not to mention some great gift ideas for "Hunger Games" fans.)

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  • 02 of 04

    Decorations for a Hunger Games Party

    Glowing paper lanterns set the mood. iStock Photo

    The beauty of a "Hunger Games" party for older teens, college kids or 20-somethings is that it's by definition an outdoor event. Pick a good venue - a park or woodsy backyard - and the trees and terrain do most of the decorating for you. Here's how to complete the look:

    • The Lighting: Make sure there is plenty of light, especially if the party is being held at dusk or in the evening, by hanging lights from the trees. This can be as simple as hanging twinkle lights, paper lanterns...MORE or mason jar lights in the trees. Be sure to place additional lights along walking paths. Star-shaped paper lanterns (see photo above) look amazing, but people are doing all kinds of wildly creative things with DIY mason jar lights these days too. Take a peek at Apartment Therapy's pictures of hanging lanterns for inspiration, as well as instructions for rigging wire hangers for your lights.
    • The Arena: How you set up the space depends on the "Hunger Games" activities, of course, but including an outdoor fireplace (or several) with seating adds to the ambiance and fits the theme nicely. Also fun: an outdoor movie screen, lounge area and laptop projector to screen "Hunger Games" music videos, like Taylor Swift's "Safe and Sound", film trailers and - when it comes out on DVD - the actual movie.
    • The Table: A long, wooden picnic table makes a great rustic buffet table, especially when embellished with branches and greenery. Use over-turned terra cotta flower pots to elevate your serving platters and baskets and give the buffet a little more visual appeal. Tuck battery-operated pillar candles (compare prices and types) and votives (ditto) in the greenery. A large cornucopia-shaped basket - to hold bread or fruit - is a perfect detail.

    Now about that food...

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  • 03 of 04

    Food for a Hunger Games Party

    Photo by Jackie Burrell

    The "Hunger Games" books are known for their lavish descriptions of food - Capitol Fare, district breads and even Greasy Sae's questionable creations. So here are some ideas for what to serve at your "Hunger Games" party - and what to put the food on.

    • Mockingjay Plates: Rustic wooden platters are certainly appropriate, but so are these cool, DIY plates, which begin life as inexpensive, clear glass plates. Blow up images of Katniss' signature mockingjay pin or the Capitol...MORE icon. Print them on card stock, using a color copier or laser printer, not an ink jet. (Ink jet ink runs when it gets damp.) Cut circles to fit the bottoms of the plates (mine were 4-inches across). Spread a thin layer of Mod Podge on the underside of each plate and press a circle into place, so you can see it through the glass. Let dry. (After your party, soak the plates in water, then peel off the paper. Or, use hot glue instead of Mod Podge to affix the paper. The glue will peel off later.) You can see the results here.
    • Grilled Groosling: Between the lamb stew with dried plums and district breads, food plays a huge role in these books. The easiest route, party food-wise, is to offer up platters of grilled chicken and label it "groosling," an homage to the birds Katniss captures in the Arena. Fill baskets with a variety of whole grain, seeded rolls, with plates of goat cheese and blackberries nearby. Add a simple green salad, tossed with a light vinaigrette and adorned with edible flowers, such as pansies, nasturtiums and herbs, and you're set.
    • Elaborate Capitol Fare: For even more fun, re-create the food from the book, using recipes for Mockingjay Cupcakes, the Mellark Bakery's Goat Cheese and Apple Tarts and other great dishes from Fictional Food blogger Crystal Watanabe's site. (Crystal also does wildly creative recipes inspired by the "Harry Potter" and "Game of Thrones" series.)
    • Drinks: You could go the full canteen-and-iodine-tablets route, but it's more fun - and tastier - to get creative with your libations. Upload an image - a Mockingjay, Capitol seal, Effie Trinket or whatever - and Jones Soda will do custom labels for 12-packs of bottles ($30 plus shipping). Or use sticky label paper and your own artistic skills.

    Games, anyone?

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  • 04 of 04

    Games and Activities for a Hunger Games Party

    Outdoor Movies
    Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

    If you're throwing a "Hunger Games" party for older teens, college kids or 20-somethings, you'll need a couple of activities to throw into the mix - something other than "pin the tail on the tribute" or, er, "battle to the death."

    • An Inflatable Obstacle Course: When actress Kristen Bell threw herself a "Hunger Games" party, she brought in huge inflatable games, including a bouncy house she dubbed The Capitol. Even better: rent a giant inflatable obstacle...MORE course, a bungee run and jousting game, if space permits.
    • Outdoor Movies: There's just something about watching a movie outdoors, while lounging on pillows and blankets, that's cool. Use a laptop and laptop projector to screen your flicks - the "Hunger Games" movie trailers, soundtrack music videos and (in six months or so) the movie DVD - on a giant inflatable screen, or simply use a plain white wall or king-sized white sheet.
    • Archery: Katniss Everdeen is famous for her prowess with a bow and arrow, so hire an archery instructor to teach a little "Hunger Games 101." If there isn't an archery club in your area, try contacting your local park and rec department or scouts organization. Instructors generally have their own equipment, targets and a very clear list of safety requirements, including site inspection and lighting (which may end up shifting your evening party to an afternoon).
    • Painted Shoes: If you're interested in incorporating crafts into the festivities, a canvas shoe project can be pretty fabulous. Guests bring a pair of white Vans, Keds or other canvas sneakers. You provide fine-tip Sharpie markers in a variety of colors, newspaper to crumple into the toes, and artistic inspiration - logos, phrases or images. This winter, there were a number of "Hunger Games" canvas shoes for sale on Etsy - perfect inspiration, in other words - but they sold out almost instantly. This link will take you to a gallery of other painted Vans (also Etsy), so you can see what the creative possibilities are.
    • More "Hunger Games" crafts: Salute the districts of Panem with your own DIY custom-made thumbtacks and Katniss-inspired jewelry, including charm bracelets, key chains, and pendant necklaces.