Setting the Scene
Decorating for election night is a snap since the candidates have done all the work for you. In the weeks leading up to your party, collect campaign paraphernalia like bumper stickers, posters, and yard signs. Post them around the house for the party and complete the look with some red, white, and blue streamers along railings and tables.
If you really want to go all-out (and if you're feeling pretty good about your candidate), consider staging a "balloon drop" for the moment the winner is announced. You can buy a net or bag made for this purpose at party stores or put together a makeshift one with a pair of inexpensive paper tablecloths: Loosely stitch the cloths together along one edge, using a fat needle and yarn, and leave one long end of yarn hanging. Attach the cloth to the ceiling with tape or thumbtacks and fill with inflated (not helium) balloons. Add some confetti if you don't mind the extra cleanup. When the big moment comes, just pull the yarn and Bam! If there are any kids at your party, they'll love you for this.
Raising The Bar
Will your state go red or blue? Even a guest's choice of drink can reveal his or her feelings on the matter. Serve up a range of offerings and see which way the voting goes. Some ideas:
Blue state beverages
Offer a selection of "blue" beers, such as Blue Moon, Labatt Blue (a Canadian pilsner), or Pabst Blue Ribbon
Shake up Royal Blue Cocktails to order
Whip up a pitcher full of Coconut Blue Hawaiian and keep on ice
Red state specials
Serve "red" beers like the Jamaican classic Red Stripe, Killian's Irish Red, or if you want to stay all-American, good old fashioned Budweiser with the red label
Pour Cranberry-Lime Margaritas which get a pleasing red hue from a splash of cranberry juice
Muddle some mint with berries for raspberry mojitos
Food You Can Believe In
There are a couple ways to go when planning an election night soiree. You can let the leading candidates inspire your menu, serving up Hawaiian Whole Wheat Pizza or Chicago-style deep dish pizza for Obama fans, and hot dogs and Boston baked beans for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
A simpler approach is to choose a single, all-American entree with both-sides-of-the-aisle appeal, like chili con carne. Serve it with tortilla chips (made with red, white, and blue corn, of course), bowls of toppings like sour cream, chopped white onion, and grated cheddar, and a big pan of cornbread.
Dessert is a must for this party, whether you're eating it to celebrate a successful night, or as a salve for your wounds after a loss. Serve up a classic American apple pie or stars and stripes cupcakes. Donkey and elephant cookies are another sweet touch. Make basic sugar cookie dough and look for cutters at specialty baking stores.
Political Party Games
Some fun, goofy ways to pass the time while you await the returns:
- Make your own projections: Have guests write down their predictions for the evening on arrival. Who will win the big races? By what margin? Which states will have upsets? And so on. Have door prizes for whoever has the most right answers.
- Pin the tails on the donkey and elephant: With a blindfold on, everyone is a kid.
- Presidential trivia: Do a web search for random, quirky presidential facts and make up a quiz. Have prizes for the most correct answers, and the most creatively incorrect ones.
Keep it PC
The key to a friendly gathering on a politically charged evening is keeping the conversation light. You may have guests of different political stripes, but steer talk to issues you can all agree on (or this if is impossible, invite guests that are all on the same side). And of course it helps to serve great food and keep the cocktails flowing. Many happy returns!