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Masquerade Party Ideas

Couple with their mask
Back in the early days, European aristocrats threw costumed masked balls which allowed them to flit in and out of their usual persona and become totally different persons for a day. In fact, the word “masquerade” came from the French word “masque” meaning "mask". Our modern costume parties came from these old European traditions and even the masquerade has come back more popular than ever. Better yet, they’re not limited to the aristocrats anymore and can fit with any kind of party—sweet 16, proms and Valentine’s Day. Here are some ideas for you to throw a masquerade party of your very own.

Aristocratic Invitations for Your Masquerade Party

Masquerade invitation
Before you send out invitations, it’s best that you know what kind of masquerade party you’re having. You can make more specific themes such as a Carnival-themed masquerade party, Mardi Gras-themed, or an old-fashioned Victorian-themed masquerade party. These themes will influence not only the costumes but the layout and theme of the party itself.

For invitations, you can have an invitation shaped like a mask. You can even kick it up a notch by decorating the mask-shaped invites with feathers, sequins and glitter.

Another invitation idea is to make some old-style “scroll” paper. All you need is :

  • White paper
  • A square pan
  • Tea bags
  • Water

Fill the square pan up to 1/3 with water. Soak the tea bags in the water until the water is brown. Take the paper and soak it in the tea for 30 seconds. Hang the paper to dry. When the paper is dry, use a calligraphy pen to make an elegant font for your invitation. You can also make it look aged by tearing out the edges of the paper. Roll it up into a scroll and tie it with an elegant ribbon for a convincing replica of a real scroll.

Decorating in Style: Dress Up Your Space

antique-style seats
Antique-style seats
Masquerades have been associated with luxury and opulence. After all, they were started by aristocrats. Take your guests to another place and time and make them feel like royalty themselves.

Unless your home has been decorated with 17th or 18th century decorations, your best bet is to go to theater prop warehouses where you can rent antique-style seats, sofas and tables. Most of the furniture during these eras were made of heavy, dark wood, with elaborate nature patterns and carvings. Try to get them as matched as possible, but it’s fine if they’re not.

For your tables, you can use gold damask linen for a rich, texturized look. You can also put white lace runners as an interesting contrast to the gold. Put lush flowers like roses in crystal vases, as your centerpiece flowers. You can also use tall peacock feathers if you want it to look more interesting.

golden spoon
Golden spoon
Instead of using the usual party utensils, why not make it look more authentic by bringing out your best white-and-gold china and golden spoons and forks? White napkins and gold napkin holders will also pair up nicely with everything else. Bring out crystal goblets to serve your drinks in.

Accessorize your space’s look by putting up gorgeous chandeliers up on the ceiling. You can opt for a big one that will be the highlight or smaller chandeliers. Gold or silver candlestick holders with real candles can also be great accessories and centerpieces. You can also have elaborate masks lining the walls or as centerpieces to your tables.

Cover up the modern items in your house like TVs, couches and radios with a deep purple velvet, or more golden damask linens to make them blend in the party theme. Play classical music in the background, although later on when the party is more relaxed and casual, you can play modern tunes as well.

Dressing Up for the Ball

Masquerade costume
With all the time you’ll be expending on preparations, games and food, will you have any time getting ready for your own party? If you don’t have a fairy godmother or you can’t afford having a dressmaker make a dress appropriate for the ball, your best bet is to go to to the shops. Vintage shops, theater props shops and costume shops are full of era-specific clothes and accessories, and you have the option of renting them or buying them.

If all your budget went to preparing the party, the best you can do is use your old bridesmaid’s gown (see Brands that focus on bridesmaid dresses). If you don’t have one, borrow from a friend. Having old-fashioned accessories, hair and make up can make up for the fact that you’re using a very different kind of gown. The same goes for guys: You can just rent a tuxedo and go to the masquerade with a really beautiful mask to make up for the modernity of the clothes.

There are a lot of pre-made masks out there, but if you are feeling particularly creative, there are also “blank” masks out there that you can work with. Have fun designing it with feathers, lace, sequins and other materials. (Tips on how to make a mask)

Unmask Your Playful Side: Games and Activities

Whos behind the mask
Even if the first masquerade balls took place hundreds of years ago, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t know how to have fun. Take some pages out of the old masquerade parties and add some of your own ideas with these masquerade party games and activities.

Who’s Behind the Mask? As every guest arrive, there must be one or two people armed with cameras waiting for them at the entrance. Take a picture of every guest and later, put up the pictures where everyone can see them. The person who can identify the most of the masked guests correctly wins.

Photo Opportunity - Set up a place with a romantic nighttime setting background and set up a camera where your guests and their dates can take souvenir photos. They’ll surely want something to remember the evening by.

Vote for Best Costume - Having a big prize for this one will certainly motivate your guests to put all their efforts in dressing up. Have a vote for the night’s best costume for male and female. Tally the votes and announce the winner.

Dance - If you have lots of time, and the guests are willing, you can rehearse for a dance a week or days before the party. You can just do some simple dance moves like the waltz, or if you want something more complicated, you can hire a dance instructor to help you out. Invite him or her to the party itself to encourage the wallflowers to dance and to observe everything you’ve rehearsed.

on the spot
On the spot skit
On the Spot Skit. Masked balls were usually used in stories because they had a lot of plot potential. You can also use the many possibilities in a masquerade by having an On the Spot Skit. Divide the guests into two groups, one to make the scripts and one to act it out. The scriptwriters group can make a story out of a basic premise, like a masked wedding for example. The actors group will then have to act out exactly as what the script is saying. “It was a fine Thursday for a masked wedding. All the guests walked to the church BACKWARDS.” The actors then have no choice but to do the actions in the script. This is good for some laughs, and will put your guests’ costume to good use! Make sure you have a videocam ready to preserve the memories of the play.

Guess Who? Games. Guessing games like “I Spy,” “Who Am I?” and “Hit, Miss or Maybe” are appropriate since you are in a masquerade party.

Who Am I involves a post-it and a sharpie to write down a name of a famous person that hopefully, everyone knows about. The post-it with a name will then be stuck on the forehead of the “It” where he or she can’t see it. The “It” will then ask questions (“Is it a girl?” “Is it a boy?” “Is she young?”) but the others can only answer Yes or No. Hit, Miss or Maybe has the same concept, only the tables are turned. The “It” is the only one who knows the identity of the person, and everyone else must ask questions that will be answered Yes or No. The first one who guesses correctly, wins that round.

Rock Out! Keeping up the facade of elegance can be a little tiring, so to cap off your party, have an all-out dance session! Shed your elegant facades and dance to modern, rocking music.

Food and Drink for Royals

All that merrymaking also means that your party will also need a repast ready for your guests. Since masquerade balls were also very in vogue for the French in the past, you can have a French influence with the food you prepare. Here are some suggestions:

Beef Tenderloin Medallions with Ratatouille. No dish is more French than ratatouille. This may be a little complicated to make, but once you finish it, it’s worth every ounce of tyour effort.

Herb Rosemary Roast Chicken. Not exactly French, but a safe option for your guests who aren’t exactly adventurous when it comes to food. The rosemary will surely make an already heavenly roasted chicken even much better.

Beef tenderlion
french bread
French bread

Mixed Greens. It would also be fun if you had an array of dressings like vinaigrette or Caesar salad sauce so your guests can make a salad just like they want it.

French Bread. For an Italian twist, serve with a mixture of basil, salt and extra virgin olive oil. Delicious!

Masquerade Cookies. Get some easy-to-make cookie dough and instead of separating the dough in little circles, make them slightly oval shaped, connecting two together to form a mask. Once baked, decorate accordingly to make it look more like a mask. Use licorice candy for the “strings”, the ones you use to keep a mask secure.

There’s a reason why masquerade parties are still around—they’re loads of fun! They give you and your friends a chance to dress up in really fancy costumes. Enjoy connecting with generations hundreds of years ago with your masquerade ball.

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