As Mr. Carson says, 'the business of life is the acquisition of memories’. Fuelled by mystery and vintage charm; this Downton Abbey themed party is sure to make you many!
From lavish multi-course meals to dramatic escape room experiences; all the ideas you’ll need to host a party for the history books can be found below.
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Related: 90+ Impressive Hen Do Theme Ideas
'I Should Hate to be Predictable' - Lady Violet Crawley
What is a Downton Abbey themed party without a little drama? Add just the right amount to your day with a DIY 1920s murder mystery escape room kit. The one we used can be played from any location (perfect for hen parties and bridal showers alike!).
Where to Host Your Downton Abbey Party
Old world charm can be brought to any venue, so don't stress too much about where you're hosting the event (we'll share lots of tips and tricks for setting the scene throughout this article).
However, if you want your party to be as realistic as possible, here are some venue ideas with vintage ambiance aplenty:
Impress Downton Abbey Fans With Your Setup
Time to transform your venue into a lavish 1920s wonderland. The following tips will add old-fashioned charm to even the newest of builds.
AFTERNOON OR HIGH TEA PARTY
Tiered serving stands, tea cups, tea pots and fresh flowers will instantly bring your Downton Abbey tea party to life. Click here for a step-by-step table setup guide.
Should the weather permit, you may prefer to take the party outside, where the beauty of your surrounds can be enjoyed. If doing so, place a few smaller tables around the garden, each with their own cloth and setting.
To top it all off, decorate with fabric bunting or floral garlands, and place woven baskets (overflowing with flowers) where a little extra 'pizazz' is needed.
Now for the best part - a delectable range of sweet and savoury treats, paired with a variety of teas.
Fill those serving trays and tiered stands with scones, jams, cream, egg salad tea sandwiches, cakes, and any other delightful nibbles that the Dowager Countess of Grantham would approve of.
Then sip, eat and gossip the afternoon away!
Place cards can be used at your afternoon tea party. Write 'Lady' before each name (e.g. 'Lady Jess') for a fun Downton Abbey-esque touch.
FORMAL DINNER PARTY
Hosting a multi-course meal? Be sure to meet the Crawley family’s expectations when it comes to setting the table. Click here to learn where each fork, knife and plate goes.
Then, to evoke a mood that would impress even the most prestigious of guests, add some greenery, flickering candles on tiered stands, and fresh blooms in antique vases.
TABLE DECOR IDEAS INSPIRED BY DOWNTON ABBEY:
And finally, finish off your 20th century style table with a delicious assortment of food.
You can either focus on serving meals with a Downton twist (such as roast beef, oysters and Yorkshire pudding), or create your own combinations of dishes (such as a mix of the bride-to-be's favourites - adding a sweet and personalised touch to her day).
Serving various courses at your party will mean a great deal of cooking for the host. So it's important to think about the night and how involved you want to be in this part of it.
Would you like to take it all on yourself? Ask for help from the bridesmaids? Book a catering company? Organise a private chef? Or even coordinate a pot luck dinner?
You could also hire a (topless) waiter to help with serving! A bit of cheek for your royal affair.
ELEGANT COCKTAIL SOIREE
Set a glamorous scene indoors with candles (both in mason jars and on tiered stands), flowers, pearl draped centrepieces, and fabric bunting. You might also like to add some vintage mirrors, large rugs, peacock feathers, Crawley family portraits (Google is your friend here) and cocktail stations.
Hosting outside? Keep it light, bright and fun with floral garlands, fabric bunting and twinkle lights. If your budget allows, large, white tents were oftentimes found at these wonderous occasions.
For those setting up cocktail stations, make sure they are overflowing with martini glasses, champagne coupes, shakers, gin, champagne and an assortment of mixers.
After More Décor Ideas?
The following items draw inspiration from the early 1920s (as well as the Downton Abbey series itself):
Once you’ve transformed the space, guests will be forgiven for thinking they’ve arrived at the real Downton Abbey, ready to party with the Crawley family themselves!
When it comes to sourcing decorations, we recommend asking before purchasing. You never know what treasures your friends and family have hiding in their homes. No luck with this? Many of the items mentioned above can also be found at op shops, garage sales and in antique stores.
DIY QUOTE DECORATIONS
We used quotes from the TV series in our decorating (see images below).
These were lovingly created with Canva, using one of their vintage backdrops and a vintage font.
Not only were these signs cheap and easy to make, but they were also great for hanging on the wall, placing on food/drink tables, and for using as photobooth props!
SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE QUOTES (& OTHER SAYINGS) THAT ARE PERFECT FOR THIS:
Add a Touch of Drama
Downton Abbey is all about the romance, style and drama. We’ve got the romance and style covered – but what about the dramatic twists?
This is where a DIY escape room activity comes in.
Based on the roaring 20s, Lock Paper Scissors' 'Envy' kit makes the perfect addition to this theme.
Not only is it fun and exciting, but it also adds some fabricated mystery and drama to the day (which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is much better than any real scandals).
See the images below for some of the ways we included this kit in our Downton Abbey themed party (no clue spoilers, we promise!).
We hand delivered 'telegrams' to each team to get the escape room started (the perfect way to surprise guests if they didn't know about the activity beforehand).
OTHER ACTIVITY IDEAS
The murder mystery escape room was a hit, but you still want more? This list of themed games and activities has got you covered:
And Finally... The Outfits
The final touch to your sophisticated soiree. Are you ready to don your favourite vintage attire?!
For guests who aren’t quite sure what to wear, we suggest the following:
FABULOUS 1920'S FASHION:
Formal gowns, drop earrings, evening shawls, stockings, bejewelled head pieces, tiaras, drop waist dresses or skirts, and strands of pearls are just some of the glamorous outfits and accessories worn proudly in this era. For a full outfit guide, click here.
If a Downton Abbey character truly resonated with you, why not dress the part? Martha Levingson, Cora Crawley, Daisy Mason, Lady Mary Crawley and Violet Crawley, just to name a few, all had their own unique style that is just waiting to be replicated.
Related to These Downton Abbey Themed Party Ideas
Bringing a Little Bit of Downton to Your Celebration
It's time to whip up some finger sandwiches and a delicious cup of tea (or perhaps something a little stronger); you're about to pick your favourite ideas from above and turn them into one sophisticated, stylish, and dramatic plan.
A Downton Abbey-themed party that takes guests straight back to the Jazz Age itself.
Whether it be held at an old-world castle or at your kitchen table, evoke the right mood and you're guaranteed to have a great time!
Much love, keep smiling - Bec x
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P.S. There is a lot of inspiration above, and not all of it needs to be followed. Work with your budget, venue and the items you have on hand. If you think outside the box and, at times, get a little crafty, the result will be a celebration that's unique and fabulous in its own right!