Red, blue and party!
“I don’t believe in the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. I just believe in parties.”
— Samantha Jones from “Sex and the City”
There they are, pundits by day, spouses by night, telling a TV camera that political parties don’t have to interfere with the party.
In their Maker’s Mark commercial, political polar opposites James Carville and Mary Matalin suggest that people can disagree on politics without sacrificing fun.
If any two people understand the whole notion of agreeing to disagree it’s long-time couple Carville, an ardent Democratic consultant, and Matalin, an ardent Republican consultant.
With Election Day looming, the time has come to adopt the same attitude of putting party affiliation aside so as to throw a political party.
There are ample food, drink and activity options out there that poke fun or highlight the platforms or terminology of Democrats, Republicans, politics and elections in general.
“I think that’s one of the lovely things about America: we can have our differences but still live together,” said Atlanta party planner Danielle Rollins. “It’s the coming together of the entire country, and I think that’s the important part to look at.”
Rollins is author of the new book, “Soiree: Entertaining with Style,” and a contributing editor to “Veranda” and “Southern Living” magazines.
She suggests focusing “on the things that bring people together” when planning a political party, given the importance of the topic.
Incorporate a few, or all, of these suggestions at your own political party, particularly this year, when it seems like people need a laugh and a good time after the onslaught of ads, mailers, rallies, home visits and phone calls has left voters, in the words of actor Jon Hamm, numb to the “noise.”
Red, white and blue decorations are obvious, but appropriate. Use leftover Fourth of July decorations or buy and create new ones and keep them.
Red roses could symbolize the Rose Garden at the White House.
Heck, you could even throw the party at someone’s white house because it would be fun to invite friends to a party at the “White House.”
No white house? Consider renting a white tent.
Although President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are busy, invite one, or both, to your party. Cardboard cutouts are available at http://www.celebrateexpress.com. If shipping time is a concern, print out copies of the candidate’s faces and tape them to Popsicle sticks.
And if red, white and blue decor is too obvious, consider this suggestion from Rollins.
“I think I would do purple tablecloths because it’s red and blue combined,” Rollins said.
Purple flowers are plentiful, as well, and you could carry the color theme into food and drink.
Rollins suggested serving something easy. During an inauguration party she hosted four years ago, Rollins served red, white and blue jelly beans and cupcakes with flags on them because her party was kid-friendly.
“I’m very proud to be an American, and that’s one of the things I focused on,” Rollins said.
Those wanting to make things more grown up could consider serving right wings and left wings, aka chicken wings, on a divided platter.
Use red barbecue sauce and blue cheese dressing for dipping.
In addition to wings, serve pulled pork sandwiches with a pickle because politicians are seemingly always in a pickle for excessive or questionable pork barrel spending.
Those interested in planning the party exclusive to this political season could offer food famous in each candidate’s home state.
Obama hails from Chicago where deep dish pizza reigns. Romney is from Massachusetts, home of New England Clam Chowder. (Rollins thought soup sounded like a good option because it’s easy to serve.)
Vice President Joe Biden comes from Delaware where strawberries are the state fruit. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, is from Wisconsin, so go for a cheese plate or brats boiled in beer.
Those interested in non-alcoholic options could serve lemonade or limeade because candidates need their aides during a campaign.
Cups of coffee, sometimes called a cup of Joe (for Biden), or tea, symbolizing the conservative tea party movement, are other options.
Those wanting a bit more kick could serve red wine, white wine and a Blue Hawaii, which is a mix of rum, coconut cream and Blue Curacao.
More sophisticated drinks include the El Presidente and Senator cocktails.
The El Presidente has two options, which is the number of major parties in this country.
El Presidente option 1:
1 1/2 ounces light rum
1 teaspoon grenadine
1 teaspoon pineapple juice
El Presidente option 2:
1 shot dark rum
1 shot sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce cola
1/2 ounce whiskey
1/2 ounce milk
1/2 ounce tequila
Not only is the latter drink named have the title of a politician, it exemplifies some characteristics in politics: appealing to as broad a range of drinkers as possible without actually tasting good. If you make it correctly, it should literally curdle.
Rollins gave permission to go less literal on drinks. Instead of serving something already named, serve whatever you want and give it a name.
“Create a drink you like or serve a drink you like and name it what you want,” Rollins said. “I would find something with a red shade and name it (Old Glory) for no reason.”
Maybe serve a Mudslide and name it a Landslide, which is the term for a candidate who wins an election convincingly.
Rollins also suggested taking a drink such as sangria and turning it red, white, blue or the aforementioned purple, if that suits your style.
“I don’t love kitschey, but you could do something kind of funny,” she said.
Depending on whether partygoers want to focus on live election results or avoid them altogether dictates entertainment.
If guests want to avoid election results, consider board games such as Junta or Carcassone.
Junta is for up to seven players and takes upward of seven hours to finish, as players compete for power in unethical ways in a fictional republic.
Carcassone is for up to five people but only takes 90 minutes, as players attempt to build kingdoms with the help of negotiation or sharing of resources.
Put together a poll with hard-hitting questions about music, sports or some other topic that may get people arguing about anything other than politics.
Liven the party up with swing dancing lessons because Colorado is a swing state; a game of Pin the Tail On the Donkey because donkeys are the animal symbol of the Democratic Party; or a White Elephant gift exchange because elephants are the animal symbol of the Republican Party.
Rollins suggested putting together a trivia game of presidential knowledge.
Finish off the evening with a good ol’ fashioned mud fight because nobody slings mud like political parties.
If, however, election results are the focus of the party, embrace it.
“Normally, during a party nobody is supposed to be watching TV, but at this one, everyone’s watching a TV,” Rollins said.
Local races will be tracked for free at GJSentinel.com.
“There is something about watching a red or blue state come up, and there is something magical about waiting for the candidate. I think anytime you can create an event around something to make it special is great,” Rollins said.