Safari Dinner Party
Why not plan a dinner party around a safari theme? I had been to a wedding shower in an event space at a zoo and they did not tie the theme to the zoo at all, despite the fact that we could view the elephants from our location. I thought how fun it would have been if they had themed the shower as “Suzy is wild about Bob”. The following year I was asked to plan a thank you event for clients of my husband. I immediately thought of “we are wild about our clients”. Unfortunately that event never came to fruition. Finally the time came when I was planning to host a dinner party for some special friends and I really wanted to do something out of the ordinary. I don’t really have enough room at my inside dining table for six, so this would be a dinner party out on the lanai. I decided to set the whole party around a safari theme and spend our entire evening outdoors. This would be a great place for a few friends to relax together and enjoy the company and the food. To get inspired I took a trek around Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Disney, of course did such an incredible job not just building, but creating what appears to be a little bit of Africa and Asia right out of the swampy lands of Florida.
I had a basic space that served us well, but I wanted to give it the feeling of one of the exotic African safari resorts you see where guests fall asleep to the sounds of the animals in the jungle. I looked around my house and began to find elements that I could move outside to give the space more of a feeling of an indoor dining room. I brought out this bookshelf (yes, I had to hide all the books in a closet for the evening) and began dressing it with appropriate knick knacks. I arranged this in the corner by the seating area. This is where we would gather for drinks and appetizers.
At the other end of the lanai I brought out this piece of furniture we use as a bar and created this large, showy arrangement to be a focal point. I mixed in a few artificial leaves and flowers I had on hand with ferns and palmettos cut in the wilds of Florida and added some of the feathers I have used in Fall arrangements. I picked up the elephant painting from World Market and hung it on the wall with Command Strips for outdoor use between my piece of furniture and my outdoor lamp which I elevated on a outdoor end table. Hanging a piece of art really made the outdoors seem like a room within my home. A piece of a palmetto was also stuck up on the wall with outdoor Command Strips for a little more interest. For the table centerpiece I used these four black and leopard placemats which I laid out on the table like a runner. I placed river rocks down the center as if they were a river flowing down the table. Next, I took five variegated Liriope plants, tied Spanish moss around the pots with raffia and sat them down the center of my table. I additionally dressed them up with bamboo. Next I nestled some stately giraffes, an elephant and zebra wooden animals and finished with lots of votive candles. My table setting was easy to put together with these plates I found at Home Goods. I saw these and thought they looked very much like the pattern of giraffe fur. I used chargers which were a nice burlap texture. The green textured glasses also came from Home Goods. Black napkins were an easy choice, but I kind of skimped on my napkin rings, using a paper towel tube cut into pieces and covered with animal print duct tape. When dusk set in, the whole feeling I wanted really enveloped us all as we settled in at the dinner table by candlelight. I have shared the incredibly easy, yet very delicious Chicken Curry and Rice dish I prepared for my guests this evening. Click on that link for the recipe.