Here's something you don't know about us: We share an address with a famous explorer.
The house where we live in Washington, D.C., was the home of Admiral Robert Peary from 1914 until his death in 1920. Robert Peary, as you may know, became famous as the first explorer to reach the North Pole, which he claimed to do in 1909. (There was a lot of dispute at the time about whether Peary or a competitor, Frederick Cook, was the first to reach the pole -- or whether either one off them actually did. It was a big debate in the newspapers at the time, until National Geographic finally "settled" the issue by declaring Peary the discoverer of the Pole. [Perhaps not incidentally, Nat Geo had help fund Peary's expedition...] Today it's widely believed that neither one of them actually reached the Pole, and that Peary especially was playing fast and loose with his own accounts of his journey. ANYWAY....)
This year, on Feb. 20, the 94th anniversary of the day he died in our house, we finally got our act together to host our first-ever Admiral Peary Party.
We've been living in this house for almost 10 years, which has been ample time for us to dream up ever-larger versions of the Peary Party. How about an ice luge? What about faux icicles hanging from the ceiling? A photobooth with fur trapper coats and other polar accessories? Could we demand that all the guests dress in winter whites??
Fortunately, Clay reined Zach in on the scope of the party. (We knew things had gone off the rails when Zach was tracking down a way to create actual snow in our apartment.)
We ended up with something much more casual and low-key, but with a few little details thrown in to make it special.
For one thing, we served all-white snacks, to keep with our Arctic theme.
We thought it was cute, and we were really happy with the spread. (Although to be honest, not all the guests even registered that everything was all white. And yes, a few people made jokes about the Oscars.)
Anyway, the food was a mix of store-bought snacks and some homemade treats. From the store, we bought yogurt-covered pretzels, yogurt-covered raisins and white cheddar Cheez-Its. (Don't judge! They were incredibly popular.) We also popped a bunch of popcorn that we sprinkled with white cheddar powdered seasoning.
To that assortment of store-bought treats, we added a couple things we made ourselves: Some white chocolate peppermint meringues and some white chocolate coconut truffles. Both treats were very tasty, and having just a couple homemade items mixed in with the other snacks made the whole spread a little bit special.
For decoration, we blew up a giant portrait of Admiral Peary and propped it against the wall.
You guys, if you ever want a super easy and free way to decorate for a party, you need to know about the rasterbator. It's a site that instantly scales up any image you want, to whatever size you want, and then it tiles it onto the appropriate number of 8.5x11" sheets of paper, which you just then print off as a PDF. Then you just glue/tape/hang the pages in the right order, and -- boom -- a giant photo. We've done it before for birthdays, going away parties, whatever. It's great! (Here's a somewhat unfortunate photo of a time when Clay used the rasterbator to make a photo mural for Zach's 30th birthday party.)
But where we really had fun was the cocktails.
Alongside wine and beer, we set out a bar with some basic alcohol (vodka, bourbon, rum) and some basic mixers (soda, Diet Coke, juice). But we also bought some special items, and then we printed up menus with suggested Peary Party-themed cocktails that our guests could mix themselves.
It was a perfect way to incorporate more of our Peary theme. And some of the drinks turned out to be really delicious. (Honestly, we expected most people would read the menu just for fun, and then just pour themselves a plain vodka soda or something. But a lot of people actually mixed up the drinks on the menu, which was great.)
Here's our cocktail menu, with some close-ups so you can see the actual drinks and their descriptions:
We also downloaded a bunch of photos from Peary's expeditions, along with front-page newspaper headlines about his voyages, and played them in a loop on a slideshow on our TV.
The whole night was super fun and a great excuse to throw a party. We had about 50 friends there, which was awesome. The one thing we forgot to do was take a single photo once any of our friends actually showed up. But trust us, it was a very fun evening.
As we said, we've been wanting to throw a party like this for years, so this was great for us. And we wanted to share it with you. In addition to that, though, here are 3 tips for throwing an easy party, which served us well here:
- Serve mostly store-bought snacks, but mix in one or two homemade items. It will elevate the entire spread.
- For crazy easy and free wall art, pick a favorite photo and rasterbate it!
- Set out a basic DIY bar -- augmented with some specialty items -- with a few suggested cocktails that guests can mix themselves. It's more special than simply setting out drinks, but it saves you from having to worry about mixing cocktails for everybody.