Three pieces of fabric, a couple of colored glass candle lanterns and a belly dancer are all the Arabian decor you need to turn your living room into an exotic oasis for your Arabian Nights party. If you have more suggestions on decorating or planning an Arabian Nights party, please leave a comment below.
A week or so ago, I got a phone call from Sara’s mom asking if I could help make the night special and memorable for twelve girls at Sara’s 18th Arabian Nights birthday party in . “Of course”, I said and we got to planning out Sara’s dream birthday party. My belly dance show would surprise the girls and afterward, they would all take part in a lesson to learn some belly dance moves. We talked about a couple simple decorating effects that would turn a normal living room into a scene from .
For simple Arabian Nights decor, Sara’s mom hung a couple of yards of bright turquoise fabric from the fabric store on one wall and two one yard pieces of sheer, glistening, purple chiffon on the other wall. The effect of the fabric was amazing. Chiffon or sheer fabric works best, but really, anything will do so long as it is solid color or Middle Eastern inspired fabric. She accented the room with a couple of Cost Plus lantern-style candle holders and then put some of her throw pillows on the floor in a pile. If you don’t have a Cost Plus in your area, follow these easy directions to make your own tin luminaries from soup cans or make some beautiful punch paper lanterns. Three easy decorating tips and voilà; instant oasis in your own living room!
With all the girls being 18 and up, Sara wanted to add to the Arabian Nights theme and try some strawberry shisha flavor in a pretty hookah as the main activity. Sara’s mom was able to find a nice one at a local smoke shop for about $40. Little did the girls know that the hookah wasn’t the main party event! To keep my belly dance show a surprise, we made a plan to sneak me into the house through the garage while the girls were chatting in the living room.
I waited outside the living room door until I heard the music come on and made my grand entrance. The looks of confusion were quickly replaced with smiles as they squealed in excitement that a belly dancer was at the Arabian Nights party. With video camera in hand to record all the surprised reactions, Sara’s mom ushered the young ladies to sit on the floor cushions so they could enjoy the show.
Knowing that most 18 year olds are very fashion forward, I wore one of my most extravagant designer belly dance costumes. As I swirled the chiffon skirt and shimmied the fringe, the girls fawned over the costume and later asked where they could get one to wear to prom. The effect was enchanting and I had their rapt attention through the entire 30 minute performance without any texting or Facebook updates. If you have a child in high school, you know this is a near impossibility!
They clapped to the rhythms of the upbeat Middle Eastern songs, oohed and aahed during the double veil routine, gasped in disbelief during the sword balancing dance, and roared in applause as I finished my performance and got the birthday girl up to dance. The excitement of the teenagers was almost overwhelming and a much higher energy than what I am used to with wedding and corporate event performances, but I had a great time knowing the girls were having such a great time.
Before I could finish my invitation to get up and dance, the girls popped off the floor grabbed the coin hip scarves I brought for them to use and were ready to start their belly dance lesson. At this point, Sara’s mom took a much needed break and headed upstairs to relax and check in on her son and husband. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the belly dance lesson and were excited to show off their hip circles and shimmies at the upcoming senior prom. After the lesson, we took a ton of fun photos for their Facebook pages and scrapbooks. A little worn from the lesson, the girls mellowed out (much to Sara’s mom’s delight) and after all the calorie burning, were ready to eat some cake and try out the hookah.
Sara’s mom was delighted with how successful the party was and also proud that she earned the title of “cool mom” for the night. As I packed up my sword and hip scarves, she said she wanted to start planning a similar Arabian Nights party for the adults, though she confided that they would most likely have enough energy for a much shorter lesson. “You never know”, I said with a smile.
For more information on how to throw an Arabian Nights theme party, check out these links: