An African Themed 50th Birthday Party

At the start of this year I was hired by Nina and Brodie to help organize a joint 50th birthday party in June. Nina is American and Brodie English, and we tried to think of a “grown up” theme for them. We decided on “White Mischief”  as a slight nod to the time Brodie spent working in Kenya.

This was quite a tricky design to create, based in the 1940’s it depicts affluent British expatriates fleeing to Kenya to live a life of luxury away from the war back home.  There was a lot of polo playing, horse riding and lavish parties held in the country club. My aim with this party was to recreate the opulence of the country club – without it looking like a Great Gatsby theme, plus showcasing the fact we are in Kenya.

The Brief
Nina and Brodie explained that to them their friends and family meant everything, thus this party was a way to highlight this fact. They wanted it to feel grown up but in a fun way.AFRICAN-THEMED-PARTY-BY-DREAM-OCCASIONS-0008African Themed Party by Dream Occasions
Guest Arrival
When guests arrived they had to ways to do so, either by horse drawn carriages or by rowing boats manned by some of the children. For those arriving by boat they walked onto the jetty through bamboo flames to the beat of African drummers. Champagne and canapés were served. Weather was paramount to this design and I cannot even stress how touch and go it was. It had been raining all day, I reluctantly gave the instruction for guests to be ushered into the marquee when they arrived. Literally at the exact time guests were due to arrive, the skies begun to clear, Lisa hurriedly lit the bamboo flares and fire pits and the African drummers moved their drums to outside.


We hired an amazing Masaai group who incorporated singing, drumming and dancing into their sets. When guests arrived by boat it was to the sound of their drumming and at times gentle singing. For their later evening set they combined all 3 and even got guests up onto the dancefloor.

No party is complete without the amazing Dream Wave DJ’s and I cannot stress how fabulous they were. Guests did not leave the dance floor until it finished at 1am. Amazing, amazing tunes all night.AFRICAN-THEMED-PARTY-BY-DREAM-OCCASIONS-0005AFRICAN-THEMED-PARTY-BY-DREAM-OCCASIONS-0011AFRICAN-THEMED-PARTY-BY-DREAM-OCCASIONS-0013

The catering on the night was handled by Sophie from the Anchor Pub, the food was free flowing all night and certainly appreciated by the guests. The smells coming from the kitchen were immense, staff were so lovely I wanted to take them all home.AFRICAN-THEMED-PARTY-BY-DREAM-OCCASIONS-0003AFRICAN-THEMED-PARTY-BY-DREAM-OCCASIONS-0009
Marquee Design
Anglia Coastal Marquees had been hired to provide a small marquee on my clients front lawn. It was tight and we used every little bit of space we could. I sat down with James from Wedding Creative and explained the brief to him, after watching the film I knew I wanted the marquee to have 2 separate entities.  James and I work so well together, I explain how the marquee should look and feel, and elements I want it to include, and he magically always understands me and makes it happen. If only life was always so easy!

In the film everyone spent a lot of time outside at the country club sipping champagne and I wanted a way to recreate this vibe. We decided to split the marquee so 1/3 was the “verandah” of the country club where guests could look out onto the African sky and dance if they wished. This was separated delicately by draping. The dance floor was traditional parquet and the backdrop was an African silhouette, coincidentally the acacia trees shown in the silhouette matched the shape of my clients tree that was inside the marquee. Dream Wave DJ’s were fabulous and created a bespoke wooden DJ booth for us which finished the design in this area.AFRICAN-THEMED-PARTY-BY-DREAM-OCCASIONS-0010

When you walked into the main section of the “country club” we had a dramatic pearl central arrangement as in the film the women wore pearls a lot! We decided to use white leather seating and I found some zebra chair covers, although not authentic of that time to get mahogany furniture was perhaps a bit OTT for what we wanted to create! I bought a little colour into the design via the flowers and candle holders.PLD_7159_edited-1AFRICAN-THEMED-PARTY-BY-DREAM-OCCASIONS-0012PLD_7190[1]

“What a truly wonderful evening last Saturday and you played a huge part in that. Your support, drive and professionalism were a massive factor in making the party such a success and you should be extremely proud of your achievements! But seriously thank you for putting together such an amazing night..we simply loved it and we have had Soooo many rave emails/letters about it being one of the best ever!” – Nina and Brodie


If you would like a themed event please contact me to assist you with planning every aspect.

Photographer – Paula Day //  Catering – Anchor Walberswick //  Marquee Company – Anglia Coastal Marquees  // Marquee Design– Wedding Creative // African drummers and dancers – Kru Talent // Chair Covers – Giant Balloons  // Flowers – Jades Flower Design // DJ – Dreamwave Events

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