To give some context, the hat party I recently decorated was a very casual event, lasting from mid-afternoon till whenever people collapsed (I had to leave at midnight, but it went on quite a lot longer than that) with children coming along for the afternoon. 50-60 people were there, I think.
It was fancy dress but, as with all good fancy dress events, costume was encouraged but not compulsory. In the event almost everyone wore a hat at some point. (Except me, actually. I’m not a big fan of hat wearing, although I seem to own about a dozen hats for some reason. Instead I wore hat earrings, a hat necklace, a hat ring, a headband with a little hat attached to it, and a dress with a picture of a hat on it. And tiny top hats attached to my glasses.)
Anyway, so these ideas are for a very informal party with people who will appreciate a bit of quirkiness.
I have one word here: eBay. It’s genuinely amazing what you can find if you search for the word ‘hat’ on eBay. I filtered it to under £5, and looked in the less likely categories, and I made some interesting discoveries. For example, a light shade made from a bowler hat.
I also realised that wedding-related items included a lot of top hat themes. Wedding favours provided small boxes to put tiny chocolate eggs in, and top hat confetti provided tiny top hats that I could use around the house for extra detail: various photos of children and birthday cards got little black or white hats added to them with blutac, and all night I got people telling me which ones they’d spotted. These ‘stealth hats’ were definitely a success. I also put small top hats on light switches, taps, and anywhere else that seemed to need them.
Another aspect of the decor I was pleased with was the idea of buying paper hats, like the ones you get in crackers – you can get a pack of 100 multicoloured paper hats for a few pounds – and turning them into giant paper chains. Literally all you need for this is scissors, sellotape, and some helpful friends.
Speaking of helpful friends, I owe a giant debt of thanks to my friend L, who turned one of my ideas into reality. I wanted a giant hat to go on the outside of the house, and she created one from wicker, paper and glue that was the hit of the party. (And also provided a handy way for people to know they’d found the right house.)
Finally, my co-host and I acquired a number of silly hats and left them around the house for people to try on. This went down well. Even the most elegant of people can never resist a silly hat.
Food and accessories
I’ve mentioned the idea of using top hat wedding favour for small food items; the other idea I had was to buy disposable chef’s hats and use them as bowls. This worked really well. I wanted to make hat-shaped food but life got in the way; I did make some Rice Krispie cakes with a hat-shaped cookie cutter, though.
I bought hat-shaped chocolate moulds; I didn’t managed to make chocolates with them, but they did get used as ice cube trays, a much easier idea.
eBay provided me with a hat-shaped ashtray, hat-shaped bottle openers and a top hat bottle stopper, and a shop in Kingston provided teabags with hatted celebrities attached to them (see here).
I also acquired a lot of tiny knitted hats which went on top of wine bottles and anything else I could find.
I’m a big fan of having things to do at parties. Social nerves can be helped by having things to read or play with: organised games can be too intrusive sometimes, but there are plenty of other options. I had a craft corner where people could make Easter bonnets or newspaper hats. I also printed out all kinds of hat-related things to put up on the walls: famous hat quotes, pictures of the weirdest hats I could find, poems with hat in the title, etc. (All easy to find on the internet, obviously.) The printouts of hat problems and the study on tin foil hats both got people talking. My co-host devised a quiz about hat quotes that went down well, too.
Although they didn’t happen in the end, I had plans for Truth or Hat (like Truth or Dare but with hat-wearing) and Werehat, a variant on Werewolf. (You are all villagers who own a small hat shop in Transylvania. Once a month, two of you turn into were-hats and crush a villager with your murderous brims. Luckily, one of you owns a psychic hat…)
If you’re holding a hat party, feel free to use any of these ideas! One warning: I am now suffering from EHF (Extreme Hat Fatigue) and may be avoiding all mention of headgear for a few months while it wears off. I am, in short, hatted out.