Turn your backyard into a tropical island by hosting a summer party, Jamaican style. Choose primary colors or use the colors of the Jamaican flag, which are green, gold and black, for your theme. Tropical drinks, Caribbean food and Bob Marley music will set your party apart from typical summer barbecues and create a memorable celebration.
Buy tropical party invitations or make your own. You might want to design a passport or an airline ticket to Jamaica, make a three-fold travel brochure with pictures of the island or tape a postcard invite to flip-flops.
Write the invite with a few Jamaican words or phrases mixed in, such as, “We be jamming, Mon. Bring your bag juice.” Make sure the invitation is easily understandable or write a glossary of terms on the back. (See Resources.)
Include party date, time, address, RSVP deadline and RSVP phone number. Let guests know special instructions like dress code, such as a bathing suit and tropical shirt, or potluck dish requests.
Purchase inflatable plastic or cardboard palm trees and place throughout the party venue.
Place green and yellow table cloths on the tables. Make tropical centerpieces by filling wooden or glass bowls with tropical fruits such as pineapples, mangoes and bananas. Scatter seashells around the tables.
Place a Jamaican flag in the front of the venue. Guests will easily find your party when they see green, yellow and black waving in the wind.
Make party favors by filling a decorative soap plate with fruit-infused chocolates or tropical hard candies, wrapping it in green and yellow cellophane and tying with a black ribbon.
Hire a reggae or mento band to perform at your party, or make a playlist of Jamaican music on your computer that can be set to automatic play over loudspeakers.
Set up steel drums and maracas for a talent contest. Choose a judging panel. Guests can take turns performing. Give the winner a prize such as the maracas or one of the table centerpieces.
Set up a dance floor where guests can practice Jamaican dance moves. Whether you hire someone, use an instructional video or teach the moves yourself, guest will enjoy learning steps like the “heal-toe,” “the bogle” and “tek wuh yuself.” Go online to My Island Jamaica for step-by-step instructions. (See Resources)
Food and Drink
Make Caribbean appetizers such as festival (fried corn bread), fried plantains and rice and peas.
Barbecue meats Jamaican style by marinating them in jerk sauce for a couple hours before grilling. Jerk sauce can be purchased in most grocery stores, or you can make your own seasoning with a recipe from Island Flave. (See Resources.)
Serve raisin rum cake, mango ice cream or sweet potato pone for dessert. Sweet potato pone is a sweet bread made with sweet potatoes, milk, coconut and raisins. (See Resources.)
Serve tropical drinks such as coconut water, Jamaican fruit punch or Dirty Bananas. Jamaican fruit punch ingredients include Jamaican strawberry syrup, orange, grapefruit and grape juices and sliced fruit. A Dirty Banana is an alcoholic beverage made with Tia Maria, rum cream liqueur, dark rum, milk, simple syrup and bananas. (See Resources.)
Check food allergies before planning meals. When serving alcoholic beverages, make sure guests are 21 and older.