If you’re like much of the country, you are currently dying with anticipation for the new episodes of PBS “Brit-hit” Downton Abbey hitting the airwaves on Sunday night (8 p.m., Channel 8). If so, you may have found yourself floor-pacing, fidgeting, hair twirl, and/or nail-biting in an effort to dissipate your anxious impatience.
What’s a devoted "Abbey-ophile” to do until the season three premiere?
There’s no better way to obsess responsibly than to throw oneself into event planning mode.
Break those nervous habits by harnessing all of that tense energy and redirecting it towards planning a simply splendid Downton Abbey Watch Party. There’s no better way to obsess responsibly than to throw oneself into event planning mode.
Worried about trying to craft your own party plan? Don’t fret! I’ve got you covered with a ready-made party blueprint. Ready to get started? On your mark, get “fête,” go!
Develop a British Accent
Let’s get right down to the first order of business: setting the tone. If you have yet to discover the “amazing-ness’ that is British Isles, prepare to have your mind blown. Houston has a bit of the UK right under our noses in Rice Village since 1993. British Isles is an Anglophiles dream rife with authentic British food, drinks, decorative wares, and memorabilia. It is the absolute perfect resource for Downton Abbey party planning.
If you really want to imbue the English spirit, you may also want to consider renting some items. Houston vintage rental company Bourbon & Bloom has the perfect fixtures to set the stage. Rent the “Antoinette Floral Sofa” for additional seating; the “Culver White Table” to serve as a drink station; and a few “Mercury Glass” votive holders for lighting ambience.
Raise Your Pinky or Raise Your Glass
Traditional bites like scones, tea biscuits and cakes can be picked up at British Isles or any specialty market/bake shop. The same goes for tea—you can pick up a box of Twinings Earl Grey and Darjeeling to keep it low-key.
If your Downton Abbey enthusiasm has hit a fever pitch, however, you may want to host a bolder menu.
If your Downton Abbey enthusiasm has hit a fever-pitch however, you may want to host a bolder menu. With the sinking of the Titanic being a major impetus for the onset of the drama, take your menu planning cues from the affluent lifestyle indicative of the ship's voyage.
If you’d like to serve a specialty cocktail, the inventive culinary mind behind the website TheKitchen.com created a series of drinks inspired by, and named after, each of the Crawley sisters: "Lady Edith," the "Lady Sybil," and the "Lady Mary." The cocktails are made with distinctive ingredients such as Lillet Blanc and sloe gin.
Of course you should also have tea and lemonade on hand for any John Bates-esque teetotalers.
As for a decadent menu, the one below is a carte du jour that even the tart-tongued, lip-pursing Dowager Countess of Grantham couldn’t resist. Comprised of dishes that are traditionally British or that nod to authentic British cuisine (menu adapted from DowntonAbbeyCooks.com), feel free to serve some or all of the menu, or tweak it to add some personal touches and options (click links for recipes).
- Salmon Toasts with Mustard Butter
- Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Canapes
- Stilton cheese and fig tray (make your own with goodies from Central Market)
- Roast Chicken (DIY or pick one up at La Madeleine or your favorite grocer)
- Steak and Kidney Pie (Found at British Isles)
- Roasted vegetables
- Asparagus Salad with Champagne-Saffron Vinaigrette (served on the Titanic)
- Trifle (dessert made from custard, fruit, sponge cake, fruit jelly, and whipped cream)
- Easy Apple Charlotte
Let's Table This For Now
Next, create a lovely tabletop with just a few Edwardian touches to set the scene. Buy a few yards of toile fabric from JoAnn’s and use it as a table cloth. Serving tea at your watch party? Then pick up a porcelain teapot from British Isles and pick up a few mismatched antique tea cups from resale spots like The Guild Shop (guests can even take them home as mementos of the evening). If you are serving champagne let your guests sip it in style from these pretty champagne coupes from Anthropologie.
How About A Little Action?
It’s always nice to put the “entertain” in your entertaining with activities to keep the guests energized, excited and engaged. Here are a couple of fun ideas:
• Watch the show Andy Cohen “Watch What Happens Live” style and take a shot every time the Countess makes a tart remark or one of the characters says a designated buzz word
• Give your guests a quiz to determine who’s most down with Downton. Give the highest scorer(s) a prize
Now that your Downton Abbey season 3 premiere watch party details are in order you can stop obsessing and start preparing to have a most resplendent affair worthy of the Crawley family. After that you can then start obsessing over the watch party for season 3, episode 2.