The heart of every celebration is good food, drink and a happy company; it is the height of hospitality. For those who have not met festive Nigerians, we can boast that nothing beats a Nigerian food party. Nigerians are great hosts and party animals. You will enjoy every bit of the moment in a party full of cheerful, lively Nigerians.
But what if you want to host a Nigerian food party? Besides creating a welcoming environment, it would be a great occasion to showcase and celebrate tasty Nigerian cuisine and culture. Having friends and loved ones around to share the joyful moment with you can be exciting as well. As such, you should expect that all eyes (and hearts) will look forward to enjoying the best food and drink that can be offered.
So a good deal of preparation should go into hosting a Nigerian food party that will draw accolades from your guests. We will be providing you with a fairly detailed guide on how to host an enjoyable and unforgettable Nigerian food party.
Party Planning 101: The Basics
There are essential aspects of planning any successful Nigerian food party, which goes beyond providing food (though food and drink remain critical). You will need to consider sending out invitations, and possibly choosing a theme for your party. You should also choose a suitable venue, and set it up with an appealing decor. You will also need to plan for side entertainment options that will truly entertain your guests; but still fit into your budget.
Such parties could be a Valedictory party (for secondary school or college graduates), a celebrity birthday, a wedding, dinner or cocktail party. Now let us go through each stage with some suggestions on how to perfect the event.
The Theme of the Party
Planning a Nigerian food party (or any other party for that matter) starts weeks, or possibly months, ahead of the event. Modern parties often have a theme – an overriding idea/concept the party will focus upon. As the host, you will oftentimes request that your guests abide by a kind of party dress code that agrees with the theme of the party. It will likely be matched with a similar look and feel to the decor of the venue. But that is not always the case.
For instance, you might choose a particular color and dressing (such as white, blue or gold); a Halloween-themed party (and dressing); or an old-school themed party. You can always research and get great ideas to use as a theme from the internet.
Choosing the Venue
The theme or nature of the party, and the prevailing weather, will contribute to your choice of a suitable venue. For instance, you may either choose an indoor or outdoor venue for your party. And it is quite certain that you cannot use an outdoor space during harmattan or rainy season (which will destabilize everyone). You should also consider enforcing the security of your attendees, perhaps by engaging bouncers and security staff.
Before sending out party invitations, create a guest list. Decide and pen down your invitees, and trim it down to agree with the size of your budget. Also decide on a suitable date and time for the event. By doing so, you can adequately plan for food, drink, entertainment, and other necessities to cater for the expected number of guests.
You also have a choice of which invitation format you want to use. The theme of your party would likely contribute to it. Whether you choose paper/physical invitation cards, or digital invitation (by email or social media), ensure you choose the one convenient (and affordable) for you.
Getting Additional Help
There is now an abundance of skilled party planners in Nigeria, who are trained to assist you with setting up the venue. They can also help to organize for food and drink. You may also choose to outsource just the event decoration to a party planner.
In any case, you are going to need helpers at every stage of the planning. Whether you can afford to hire a party planner or not, it is best to seek additional help. Consider also that you will need helpers to purchase and transport items you will use for the party, and to serve refreshment. Make an appeal to friends and family to help you out with the various chores.
The Venue and Decor
Between you and the person hired to handle the decor for your party, you can decide on the best look that suits your party. It will involve the choice of fabrics – both the pattern and material. Introducing air fresheners and adequate ventilation (with air conditioners or fans) should also be considered. Here are a few ideas you can use to decorate your party venue:
- The use of colorful balloons, lamps, glowing lights, wall stickers and/or any other decorative items
- Nature-inspired elements such as leafy designs and flower patterns on napkins, curtains and other fabric. Again, incorporate elements of wood, artificial grass, or bamboo into things like furniture, cutlery, plates or even candle holders. The overall effect is to give an earthy, restful and natural look to the venue.
- African cultural symbols and patterns on tablecloth, chair covers, curtains, napkins, and wall hangings. You may add other traditional decorative items such as calabashes, baskets and woven rugs on the tables, floor, walls, and as serve ware.
- Nigerian artworks are particularly appealing. A typical example is to surround the place with pictures of African masks, or sculptures depicting African concepts.
- Pictures of beautiful local (or perhaps foreign) landscapes, attractive interior decors, or even Nigerian landmarks can be used to create an inviting ambience.
- The use of actual musical instruments (or their pictures); especially traditional instruments like drums or beaded gourd (‘shekere’) as decor. You might even invite players to entertain guests with these instruments, if they are available.
- The event could be a national event (such as Independence Day); or a popular national, regional or global celebration. It could be a renowned religious, cultural, social, political or other such public event. In that case, choose decorative elements that showcase the symbols of, or concept behind, that event. For Nigeria’s Independence Day, flags and fabrics displaying the green-white-green logo, Nigerian Coat of Arms, or the map of Nigeria will be suitable. A Christmas-themed event will look good with Christmas symbols and colors (such as reindeer, lambs, golden bells, holly leaves or Father Christmas).
Selecting The Menu: Food and Drink
The food and drink you will make available for the party will depend on four factors. Namely your budget, the planned number of visitors, the theme, and whether it will be an indoor or outdoor event.
Most Nigerian party foods are a combination of the following:
Small Chops (Appetizers)
These are snacks served before the main meal. They are also randomly provided during and after the event. It could be any (or a combination) of the following: Puff Puff, Samosa, Buns, Fish Rolls, Meat pies, Sausages, Fried Meat and/or Liver, Coconut Candy, and Chin Chin.
The Main Dish/Course
If it is a buffet, then there will be several dishes to choose from. Suggestions for the main course include:
- Jollof Rice
- Fried Rice
- Pepper Soup
- Swallows like Pounded Yam/Amala/Fufu/Tuwo/Eko/Semolina (paired with any one of available rich stews such as Egusi, Spinach soup or Gbegiri and Ewedu soup)
- Grilled Meat, Fish or Poultry
These are served as garnish or supplementary food along with the main dish. It could be any (or a combination) of the following: Fried Plantain, Moin-Moin, Fried Meat/Fish/Poultry, and/or Vegetable Salad/Coleslaw.
Party drinks that normally grace a Nigerian food party could be traditional drinks or factory-processed ones. They include traditional drinks like Zobo, Palm wine, Soya Milk or Tiger Nut Juice (depending on which part of the country). Popular modern drinks are often served as well. They include Fruit Juices, Yogurt, Flavored Milk, Wines, Soft Drinks, Chapman, factory-processed Herbal Drinks, and Beer.
Other Forms of Entertainment
No Nigerian food party is complete without other accompanying forms of entertainment, especially music and/or dance. You may choose to invite a live music band. Or a Disk Jockey to mix and supply popular music. You can even set up a karaoke to supply well-known songs for people to sing along. You might even use a low-budget option of supplying music from a laptop or phone (combined with a loudspeaker).
Music is basic entertainment you should plan to give your guests any day. However, there are other options, if you can afford them. Beyond this, you should choose the kinds of entertainment that match the theme and mood of the event. It could be any of the following:
- Inviting a comedian to induce laughter.
- Clowns, costume dressers and dancers brought to a children’s party.
- Indoor games like dance contests, card games, board games, snooker/billiards, local games (e.g. Ayo or Dambe)
- Poetry Night and/or open mic session where poets can showcase their skills.
- Cultural performances (such as drumming sessions or traditional dances), especially if it is a traditional festival.
- A fashion show where native or modern attires are displayed by the guests. In some cases, prizes may be awarded to the best-dressed guests to spice up the event.
- A theater/stage performance with love actors/actresses
- A Movie show.
Finally, remember to be at the venue before your guests, in order to put final touches to your preparation. Ensure you are relaxed, dressed and ready by the time your guests will arrive.
The most essential part of every Nigerian party is to maintain the spirit of togetherness, fun and sharing. Work towards making the party a memorable one for every attendee as well as yourself.
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