The medieval period is remembered for its Gothic architecture, towering cathedrals, stone castles, jousting knights, fierce wars and tradition of courtly love. The reputation for color and excitement that makes it a common setting for historical novels and period films also makes it an ideal theme for a party.
Cut out helmets, swords or other medieval memorabilia from card stock and place the date and location on the back of them to create invitations. Purchase parchment or create it by taking paper and slightly singeing it around the edges. Inscribe the necessary information with a calligraphy pen with elaborate drawings in the margins to evoke the illuminated manuscripts composed in medieval monasteries. If you're feeling especially brave, write in an formal style and throw in a few archaic words -- for example, "Eftsoons, we shall have dessert." For inspiration, study the language of "The Canterbury Tales" or "The Faerie Queene," which, though written during the Renaissance, consciously emulated the style of the High Middle Ages.
Planning and Decorating
Prepare a “drawbridge” made out of cardboard at the entrance to the party. On cardboard, outline the bridge with a marker and cut off extraneous pieces. Punch holes through the top corners and tie string or rope around them. If your front porch has hooks for hanging lanterns, connect the rope to the hooks. Create crests out of poster board and design each one with a different heraldic emblem. If any portion of the party is outdoors, construct a circular medieval pavilion by planting a long pole in the ground and using ropes to connect that pole to a round steel hoop firmly secured in place by cross-braces. Arrange flags on pikes throughout the yard and place maps on old "parchment" on the walls of the indoor rooms.
Food and Drink
Serve guests giant turkey legs or build a barbecue pit out of cinder blocks and suspend a pig over it using expanded metal with handles attached. If this is an adults-only party, serve rum or mead; if kids are present, create a nonalcoholic mead out of ginger ale, apple juice and sorbet. Take skewers and spear them through sweet fruits of various kinds to create “fruit swords.”
Games, Music and Entertainment
Make a playlist of music by bands such as Mediaeval Baebes, who compose original scores on period instruments. Play stirring film scores from movies such as "Braveheart" and “Kingdom of Heaven.” Hire professional musicians for the occasion, along with falconers, jugglers and jesters. Hang up a dragon pinata filled with gold coins for the little ones while teenagers and adults enjoy a spirited game of "Settlers of Catan," a medieval-themed board game of trading and expansion.