Note: The Fan’s Party Planner is a recurring column on Pudding Shot with tips and ideas for planning themed parties based on popular books, video games, films, genres, fandoms, etc. The outlines include suggestions for invitations, decorations, food, beverages, and activities, but readers should note that not all of the ideas presented in the outlines have been tested by the author or will come with full instructions. The guide is best viewed as a “fancy brainstorm,” an inspirational list to help readers start thinking about their creative options and planning the party that best suits them and their guests. The majority of the suggestions should be doable for most hosts, but items in “Advanced” categories will require some extra time, money, or effort.
The Chronicles of Narnia is a classic high fantasy series by C.S. Lewis that has enchanted the imagination and stirred the hearts of children and adults for generations. The most familiar book in the series is likely the second, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but the Chronicles are full of exciting adventures, beautiful and terrible magic, and unforgettable characters. They also feature some truly amazing parties and feasts.
Consider this your starting guide for throwing your own incredible Narnia party. Using my knowledge (and deep love) of the books and my amateur experience with hosting flings for clubs and private get-togethers, I have brainstormed a few ideas for atmosphere, decorations, food, and activities that will help you throw a bash fit for Cair Paravel. Quite a few items are inspired by the famous The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but I have tried to represent all of the books in some fashion. Feel free to mix, match, adapt, and add to the suggestions on this outline to design a unique Narnia celebration that works best for you and your guests.
Written invitations are nice, and you can get very creative with Narnia paper invitations, but they aren’t necessary in the age of the Internet. You can customize a Facebook event or ecard with screenshots of the Narnia movies or art from the books. Make sure you include your date, start time, location, and anything guests might need to know to prepare for you party such as if they should dress for the outdoors or bring shoes for outdoor games. Also, encourage your guests to dress in costume! Costumes make everything more fun, and Narnia has a wide variety of human, animal, and mythic creature characters to choose from. Costumes also give you the option of having a costume contest for an activity.
- A model wooden ship with several sails
- A painting of a large wooden ship at sea
- A small golden bell
- British tea set
- Candles, lanterns, bonfire: Soft light from candles, festive hanging lights, or a fire in the hearth or contained fire pit will help give your party that “old school” fantasy feeling. How you use them depends on whether you’ve got indoor or outdoor space and how well you’re able to manage fires, but small electric party lanterns in natural colors or battery-powered candles with a fake flicker should be safe in any environment. For real fire, poured candles with deep, wide-based, high-rimmed bowls and low wicks present the least danger of tipping over or catching loose clothing.
- Fake snow
- Faux spring or ivy garlands
- General medieval/renaissance faire decorations: Check party stores, kids’ dress-up toys, or Halloween supplies shops for generic “kings and castles” accessories or decorations like tapestries, banners, armor, costume shields and swords, goblets, etc.
- Gray stone statues of animals and mythical creatures
- Large stuffed lion or lion statue
- Leafy forest or flowering branches: Place fake or real branches in clear glass or earthenware vases and distribute them around the party space to create the appearance of a forest. I don’t recommend cutting down branches for this, but if you are using real fallen wood or bringing in potted plants from outside, check them for bugs or indicators of disease before bringing them into your home. When the party’s over, return them to the outdoors to decompose instead of throwing them in the trash.
- Star cut-outs: Cut these from silver or gold paper and stick them to the walls or use a hole punch and thread to hang them from high objects.
- Streamers: You can really use almost any color for Narnia, but I would recommend white, red, rich green, deep blue, or gold. Keep them away from any open flames.
- Stuffed dragon or dragon statue
- Stuffed unicorn or unicorn statue
- Toy rings with green or yellow gems
- Train set
Hang the coats together on a tall mobile rack and place the rack in front of the main entrance to the party so your guests can discover Narnia the way Lucy did. Use a rack that does not have a lower bar that could trip guests. Leave a significant gap between the coats or only hang a few so that guests can easily pass through. Guests will likely need to duck under most racks, but if you want to elevate it, make sure the bases are stable. The main entrance works best, but otherwise choose an entrance with low traffic, as guests may find it annoying to shove through coats repeatedly while moving between two popular rooms or rooms in which they will be carrying food.
“Cair Paravel” is a display meant to represent the castle of the Four Kings and Queens of Narnia. Finding, purchasing, or creating all of the individual pieces in the display will require some significant time, effort, and/or funds, so plan in advance how you are going to acquire the items and where you will place the display at your party. You can make the project easier and achieve a similar effect by choosing to assemble only the Pevensie gifts or only the crowns of the Four Kings and Queens or by skipping the pedestals on the display ground.
- Display ground: Set up a small table or select a visible shelf or counter. Create four pedestals with sturdy materials that can be stacked or come in different sizes such as books, wide blocks, or cans. Arrange the pedestals in a line and make the two middle pedestals a bit taller than the end pedestals. Drape a cloth that is long enough to cover the table but not long enough to drag on the floor over the pedestals. If you get four crowns, place them on the pedestals and place the Pevensie gifts on the table. If you choose to do only the Pevensie gifts, place the objects on the pedestals if they will fit and skip the pedestals if they do not.
- Pevensie gifts:
- Lucy—Lucy’s healing cordial can be recreated by wrapping a necklace chain around the neck of a small perfume bottle, like a sample size. You can leave this as a simple visual display, as even very crafty people may find it difficult to attach a chain to a more ornate perfume bottle.
- Susan—Susan’s bow and horn may be more difficult to find than Lucy and Peter’s gifts. Lord of the Rings merchandise may be useful, as you can substitute an elf bow and the Horn of Boromir. Otherwise, look for costume or toy bows, and certain craft or “spiritual” stores may have unfinished ox horns.
- Peter—Peter’s sword and shield can be assembled from medieval knight costume supplies or crafted from cardboard, paint, and aluminum foil.
- Edmund—Edmund didn’t get any presents from Father Christmas, but if you want to be hardcore you can find something symbolic, like a bit of knotted rope to represent Aslan’s sacrifice for his life. You can also put a box of Turkish Delight or the White Witch’s sleigh bells or wand here.
- Crowns: Check novelty party materials and children’s dress-up supplies for four crowns. They don’t all need to be the same size or be similarly ornate, but try to avoid crowns with visible character associations (Disney princesses). Place these on the pedestals.
Food receives an incredible amount of attention in The Chronicles of Narnia, not only for Lewis’s sumptuous descriptions but for how often meals are used to define character relationships and milestones in the stories. Fortunately, the books have received several “unofficial cookbooks” full of meals, dishes, and snacks taken directly from the text for you to recreate. You may want to consider hosting a Narnia brunch party, because Lewis clearly believed breakfast was the most important meal of the day.
- Cake: You have a wide variety to choose from, but stick with traditional cakes like almond or nut cakes, sponge cakes, fruit-based cakes, or simple sugar or honey cakes. Skip the icing for jam, cream, or sugar or chocolate glaze toppings.
- Eggs: You can serve these pretty much any way you please and still be canon. Boiled eggs, scrambled eggs with cheese, eggs on toast, eggs with bacon and mushrooms, eggs Benedictine, omelets, go wild and pursue your dreams of party eggs.
- Fish: River fish like trout or smelt, kippers, and salmon are common varieties served roasted, grilled, baked, or fried in the books.
- Fresh fruit
- Fruit trifle
- Pastries: Marmalade or jam rolls, biscuits, muffins, scones, sausage rolls
- Porridge: Extremely prevalent, but you may want to dress it up with a fixings bar or something.
- Roasted vegetables
- Sandwiches: Lewis never underestimated sandwiches, and neither should you. For Narnia, you can have grilled cheese, cheese and tomato, hearty ham, and roasted bear meat that has previously been squished into pockets.
- Stews or soups
- Sweets and bonbons: The books aren’t always specific, but old-fashioned candies you can find behind glass counters in candy stores or in fancier boxes or make at home are a good bet. Look for chocolate-covered coconut and nougat, fudge, and glazed or sugared nuts and raisins.
- Toffee candies
Edmund’s fall famously begins with this treat, also called lokum, which is traditionally flavored with rosewater and covered with nuts and powdered sugar. Unfortunately, Turkish Delight goes stale rather quickly, and it’s not particularly popular in America, so you may have trouble finding boxed Turkish Delight that will actually taste good or a local confectioner who makes it. If you would like to make it yourself, you can find recipes in many Narnia “unofficial cookbooks” (and one official cookbook) or by searching online at websites like The Geeky Chef.
Narnia has a lot of feasts, and at those feasts there are often fancy meat dishes with turkey, chicken, beef, venison, or lamb. These meats make impressive, tasty centerpieces for the spread, but they can take a long time to prepare and be expensive to cook for large crowds. If you’re having a smaller party, you may want to consider offering one of these as part of a dinner modeled on a specific feast rather than including it as part of a spread.
Americans who have never had a pasty may recognize the word from Harry Potter’s “pumpkin pasties;” they’re basically Cornish turnovers you fill with savory foods like meat, cheese, potatoes, and/or vegetables. You might be able to find these frozen, but they’re also not too difficult to make if you get premade, roll-out pie crust, and then you can find your preferred recipe for baking and stuffing them with whatever fillings you want.
- Tea: Serve hot with optional cream and sugar.
- Hot chocolate
- Mulled wine or cider
- Fruit juice
The White Witch—Essentially, make a White Russian to your taste and serve over ice or chilled whiskey stones.
Aslan’s Roar—Though Aslan is good and often kind, we must never forget that he is still a lion. “Aslan’s Roar” is a fitting combination of sweet peach iced tea, ginger ale, and a shot of whiskey. The peach tea and ginger ale should give the drink a sweet taste with a golden color and a few bubbles, though I will leave the proportions up to you. You can always start with the spiked iced tea and then decide how much you want to sweeten the drink with ginger ale
Lucy’s Cordial—Mix pomegranate juice or cranberry-tangerine juice with ginger ale or sparkling apple cider for Lucy’s life-giving cordial from Father Christmas. Serve this as a virgin cocktail option with fresh fruit or add a half-part of clear vodka or rum to make a lightly spiked punch.
Quest for Aslan:
Whenever these English kids go to Narnia, they almost always end up on some kind of quest, like to find Aslan’s country at the end of the sea, to find the missing prince on the silver chair, to meet the rebelling Narnian army, to place two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve on the thrones, etc. Send your guests on their own quest for Aslan with a scavenger hunt. Divide guests into 3-4 even teams and give them “prophecy cards” with riddles or clues to find 3-5 objects around the party. Give each team a set of unique items to find or color-code the same items in different locations so teams are not on top of each other searching in the same areas or swooping on another team’s discovery.
I suggest making the last item a paper with a famous quote from the series; when teams turn in their items, they must correctly indicate who said the quote to win. Give guests multiple chances to guess who said the quote or keep a few alternate quotes on hand if no team can turn in their items and attribute their quotes within 1 minute after all teams have returned with their correct quest items. Give the winning team a small prize like chocolate coins or allow the players to take home quest items.
“Celebrity” is like a cross between Password, Taboo, and charades. To play the Narnia version, first cut up at least 14 small slips of paper; add two more slips of paper per player if you have more than 7. You can use more if you would like the game to go on longer, but make a number divisible by 2. Write the name of a Narnia “celebrity” (Lucy, Mr. Tumnus, Eustace, Puzzle, Shasta, etc.) on each slip of paper and place the slips of paper in a hat or jar. Consider setting up a list at the beginning of the party for guests to suggest characters that you can pull from later. Divide the guests into two relatively equal teams.
Round 1 of “Celebrity” is like Taboo. Players will have 30 seconds to draw a character slip and say anything they like except the character’s name to get their team to guess who the character is. Once someone on the player’s team has guessed who the character is, they may draw a new character slip and keep going until the 30 seconds are up. When the 30 seconds are up, the next team will take their turn. For example, Person A from Team 1 draws “Edmund” and describes him until someone on their team guesses “Edmund,” and then Person A can go on to choose “Prince Caspian,” “Fledge,” etc., until the 30 seconds are up and Person B from Team 2 gets their turn. For each character a team guesses, the team earns a point. Teams will go back and forth until all of the character slips are used.
In Round 2, the slips are mixed back in the hat. Round 2 is played exactly like Round 1, except players may only use one word to describe the character on their slip. A player who pulls “Aslan,” for example, might say “lion.”
Round 3 is played exactly like Round 1 and Round 2, except with charades: players may not speak as they describe the character on their slip. Instead, players must use pantomime to get their team to guess their character. Whichever team has the most cumulative points after all three rounds is the winner.
If you use any of these ideas for your Narnia party or come up with any new ones, feel free to send Pudding Shot a message to let us know! We’d love to hear from you, and we might include your ideas in follow-up posts. Now, further up and further in, let the festivities begin!