Toga! Toga! Toga! (How to Update a Roman/Grecian Party)


Every once and awhile, someone asks my advice about throwing a Toga / Ancient Greek or Roman party. I usually shrug, turn up my nose and offer a different theme for their party. A Toga party just always sounds so cliche. Such an “I ran out of ideas” idea for a party. However, this morning, I was inspired. I am a creative girl. How would ACSE do a Toga Party? This is what I came up with.

First of all, of course, follow my basic steps on How to Throw a Party. This is what I would do to be Toga/Antiquities specific:

There are two ways to go: Either a Toga Party as inspired by the movie “Animal House” or a Toga Party as inspired by Romans/Greeks. Regardless of which direction you go, you and your guests can have fun with their wardrobe & hair, the signature food and beverage and extra gimmicks. For invites for either type of Toga Party, I’d suggest playing with some Latin. Such as “Re vera, potas bene“. (Say, you sure are drinking a lot.) or “Romani quidem artem amatoriam invenerunt” (You know, the Romans invented the art of love).

Animal House

Wardrobe & Hair: Certainly friends will come dressed in togas. However, also encourage other friends to come dress circa 1978, the year the film was made. This opens up the opportunities for your guests to wear something fun and that they feel comfortable in. Your more exhibitionist type friends can come “au natural” in a white 300 count sheet. And others can come as geeky college students in Corduroys or Afro bell bottomed student protesters. Women can have their hair bone straight and parted in the middle a la Katherine Ross.

Drink: I would keep with the college frat boy feel. However, even though the night will be juvenile your taste buds will not. First up is a keg. Several. Make your friends tap the keg when a new one is needed. Someone will fail miserably and beer will spew everywhere. Eschew the Pabst Blue Ribbon for a delicious local micro brew. Also, add a punch. Yes punch is evil but it is a necessary evil. Be kind to your guests and swap out the grain liquor for a Cava or top shelf vodka.

Food: Pizza. Of course. And serve your friends straight out of the box. Either a quality cheese, pepperoni etc or go classy with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes etc.

This idea I loved: Also, order Chinese food and have your friends eat directly out of the take out containers. As if, they were crashing your party and raided your frig.

Watch the film or the trailer on YouTube for ideas on gimmicks and entertaining guests. Some ideas that come to mind are stupid college drinking games (Twister, Quarters) or Poker. Now that we are older, all of the drinking will be fun but not the end all be all. I might set up a photo booth or a game of pool. Ideally, you will have a lawn. Make up a frat name and decorate your home with the letters. A friend of mine from High School had a t-shirt that said “Tappa Nu Kegg” for instance.

Grecian / Roman Party

Wardrobe & Hair: Apparently, togas were worn only by men of Ancient Rome. Ah – I want you to keep your party authentic but only to a point. Women can either rock the Stola or wear a Toga (which is much more fun). “In ancient Rome, it was considered disgraceful for a woman to wear a toga; wearing the male garment was associated with prostitution.” Ooh goodie!

Please note: One detail I found extremely interesting in that Wikipedia article was that not all togas were white. Your guests can be come traditional, authentic and in purple. Makes for better photos than everyone in white (IMO). Hair should be well coifed, back in a bun, respectable. Maybe a small hair wreath of gold leaves.

In Ancient Greece, the people wore the Chiton

Other variations: friends could come dressed as Roman soldiers or artisans or visiting Egyptian tradesmen or politicians. Sandals, Birkenstocks or bare feet. Maybe a silver anklet.

Food And Drink: Wine. That was easy. I immediately started thinking about the Roman God, Bacchus, the God of Wine and Intoxication (someone has to be). This introduces a more hedonistic nature into your party. Another blog I found online gave me some scintillating ideas for a Bacchus like event. If you can stick to traditional regional Roman food (just google “Roman Food” and a number of recipes pop up). If not, just go Italian. Although Pasta is fine, I would indulge in generous servings of meats, chunks of Parmesan, big wooden bowls of fruits, dates, figs and savory olives.

A more interesting route would be to skew your party towards Ancient Greece. I found some useful ideas for an elegant Greek Dinner Party.

I also love the simplicity of a Minted Greek Wine.

If I were to throw a toga party, I would be particularly interested in hosting a political debate as part of my toga party. My friends are all (hipster) nerds so they would enjoy that. Here is a rather dry yet informative article about the uses of wine, including political life, in ancient times.

In terms of thematic gimmicks and entertainment, a servant boy in white linen loin cloth (careful how you do this) feeding people grapes, keeping guests cool with a ridiculously large sized fan. If the slave boy is too much, make your friends do this for each other. I have this visual of a Roman bath so would suggest some form of water: a pool, jacuzzi, have your event near a stream or lake or just a champagne fountain. Maybe fun touches like finger bowls so your guests can clean their hands. Rose petals in the water of course.

Auntie’s Advice: Any theme party can be banal or exhilarating. The difference is in your research and originality that makes for an unique experience.


~ by Cybel Martin on March 26, 2009.

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