Jamaica! The name alone calls to mind a place where life seems like an endless day on a Caribbean beach. But let’s face it, not everyone can fly there on a whim. So why not plan a Caribbean themed engagement party using the beauty of Jamaica as your inspiration? We’re not talking about a grand production at a hotel or fancy restaurant. Instead, this is for an “at-home party”—the trendy, new way to mark a special occasion. Here, the guest list includes just your closest friends and family. Plus, the event is friendly on your budget, since you have total control of every detail. **this post has been update as of 4/31/2019
DIY Ideas for Jamaican Themed Decorations
Start the scene with a “Wa Gwan” welcome sign! Hang it on a tree at the reception. Make it fun so guests know what to expect!
Go Crazy With Color for a Jamaican Party!
We’re just in love with the idea of recreating the look of a Jamaican plantation—complete with coconut trees and pineapple fields. Bold colors are everywhere.
- Vibrant golden yellow dominates the scene and casts that sunny Jamaican glow over it all.
- Bright orange and green serve as vivid accents.
- Neutral brown, beige, and tan provide tempering touches.
- Shell accents in the form escort card holders that are great for a fancy affair
Craft Colorful Centerpieces with Fruit -inspired Decorations
Delight your guests with table décor that’s nothing short of fun and festive. And for real impact, anchor it on centerpieces that truly get that Jamaican vibe across.
- Craft a towering coconut tree centerpiece from yellow and orange crepe paper. Imagine simulating picnic-style dining in a coconut grove, right in your own backyard!
- Use fresh tropical fruits to create centerpieces as well. Fill wooden bowls or woven trays with bananas, mangoes, guavas, and pineapples—or whatever tropical fruits are available at your local farmers’ market. This is a great way to add color and texture to your table display without spending a bunch.
- For equally colorful centerpieces, try simple floral arrangements in low glass or bamboo bowls, with flowers such as hibiscus, plumerias, and birds of paradise. You don’t have to use a lot of these blooms. Just a few will go a long way when you combine them with other elements such as fruits, stones, or shell accents. To get more table decorating ideas, read “3 Truly Tropical Table Ideas for a Caribbean-style Wedding Celebration“.
Say “Thank You” With Caribbean Party Favors
Give your guests something practical, yet decorative, to take home. Candy trays (see above) or woven boxes (see below) wrapped up in colorful fabrics not only add to the fresh Caribbean look of the table, but they can also:
- be filled with some homemade treats using tropical fruits, such as candied pineapples and guavas
- present luxuriously exotic chocolate truffles infused with tropical fruit
- be transformed into soap dishes, trinket holders, or condiment trays back home
- present guests with postcards of scenic Jamaican beaches
- make beaded bracelets or similar pieces of jewelry
- bake homemade butter rum cookies
Other themed favor ideas can include:
- Cello bags filled with sweet potato chips
- Pineapple cookies rendered in colorful hues of the Caribbean
- Mini baskets filled with Caribbean toffee
- Sunglasses and/or straw hats for guests (can be given at the ceremony)
Serve Savory and Spicy Jamaican Food & Cool Tropical Drinks
Jamaican cuisine is known for its spicy flavors and its multi-ethnic influences—ranging from British to East Indian to even Spanish fare.
- Make it a fun Jamaican BBQ – Since this is an at-home engagement party, why not put on a fun barbecue with a guest “grill master” cooking up the famed Jamaican Jerk Chicken? Imagine the aroma of barbecuing filling the air! To keep costs down, you can buy the ingredients for Jamaican cuisine from an ethnic grocery near you. Or you may opt for the zero-hassle approach and have a restaurant cater an all-grill menu. For more menu ideas, check out our Caribbean appetizer’s post.
- Serve tasty side dishes – For accompaniments, serve crunchy grilled vegetables with traditional Jamaican side dishes, such as fried plantains, Johnny cakes, rice and peas, and festival (fried cornbread).
- Don’t forget the drinks – For a refreshing selection of beverages, pass around glasses of chilled fruit juices—freshly squeezed from tropical fruits that Jamaica boasts of, such as pineapple and mango. You can also serve fun cocktails like Jamaican rum, Jamaican Cobbler, and “Jamaica Me Crazy.”
- Indulge in exotic desserts – To end the meal on a sweet note, offer desserts like mango ice cream, rum raisin cake, and fried banana fritters.
Check out these great references on Jamaican cuisine and beverages:
– Authentic Recipes from Jamaica (Authentic Recipes Series) by John DeMers
– Lucinda’s Authentic Jamaican Kitchen by Lucinda Scala Quinn
– Jerk from Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style (Paperback) by Helen Willinsky
– “Jamaica Me Crazy” recipe
Play Live Music and Dance the Night Away!
With such a festive atmosphere for your party, the rhythmic sounds of steel drums and maracas must be in the air. Beating time to reggae music, of course!
- Play your favorite reggae CDs to get the party going. Think Bob Marley, UB40, and other popular artists.
- Got any friends or relatives who play musical instruments? Have them show off their skills by playing along.
- Have simple percussion instruments on hand, so even your non-musical guests can get in on the fun.
- And what would a fun-filled Caribbean party be without the limbo dance? So limber up and get ready to show off those dancing skills!