How to Create an “All That Jazz” Party Ambience

image001In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed April 30 as International Jazz Day. The day highlights the virtues of jazz as an educational tool and its diplomatic role in uniting people around the world to work for peace, dialogue, respect for human rights and dignity, enhanced cooperation, and encourage youth to participate in social change.

The first annual International Jazz Day was held in Paris led by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, a legendary jazz pianist and composer. For 2014, the host city is Osaka, Japan. In the early to mid-1920s, Osaka was Japan’s “jazz mecca, making the city the perfect choice to become this year’s International Jazz Day Global Host City. Part of the celebration is the daylong series of educational programs organized by UNESCO and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to be held at the Osaka School of Music. The public is invited to these events free.

Hosting a Jazzy Party

International Jazz Day is the right excuse to throw a mellow after-dinner party at your place. Transform your space into a haven reminiscent of bars and clubs in New Orleans, the official birthplace of jazz music. Here’s how to achieve metropolitan sophistication to enjoy the day with friends as you sit back, relax, and listen to fusion of blues, rhythm, and swing notes.

  • Cut out some music sheets of great jazz number and use them as invites. Be as creative in writing down the words to let guests know what to expect. Indicate if you want people to dress up in fancy flapper costumes or just to swing by your place to spend a laid-back time savoring the food, drinks, desserts, and jazz music for the night.
  • image005To set the stage for a smoky, intimate club, dim the lights by using bulbs with lower wattage. Light up some tea lights and place them inside clear glass hurricane lamp to work more magic in the room. Fill several glass vases with artificial liquid color of yellow, red, and orange then float more tea lights for melodramatic effect. Complete the club scene by bringing in the musicians of Bourbon Street to your place. Fasten jazz trio cut outs alongside posters of great jazz artists like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, and Herbie Hancock.
  • image004Wrap the table with international flag tablecover to show your unity with the rest of the world celebrating International Jazz Day. Consider serving different types of finger foods like cocktail meatballs and sesame chicken nuggets that can be easily plucked with international party tooth picks. Surely all your guests will fill their international flag dinner plates with more of those deviled eggs and cheese sticks. For dessert, a small crock-pot of chocolate fondue with complete fixings of marshmallows, fruits, and crackers is just enough for guests with sweet tooth.
  • image007Set up a nearby bar lined with loose music sheets. Arrange everything needed, from glasses to liquors and garnishes. To jazz up the party a notch higher, concoct a fruity Hawaiian punch with colorful streaks to match the glass vases. Provide plenty of ice for continuous pouring of gin, which was considered the national drink during the jazz age. Other popular drinks to serve are Mint Juleps and martinis sipped in cocktail martini glass with silver edging.
  • Evoke the feel of the jazz era. If you really want to have an authentic club feel for the party, hire a live band to play upbeat New Orleans-style jazz on a makeshift stage. Another option is to assemble several mixes of old and current jazz hits. Clear an area for guests wanting to swing to the tune.
  • Host gangster games of craps and coin tossing. To play, instruct guests to line up away from the wall. At your signal, everyone pitches a coin directed to the wall. The nearest coin to the wall becomes the winner. However, most of the guests are more likely to enjoy listening to the sound of horns, whether from the live band or mp3 player. Play some rounds of “name that tune or artist” and see who’s really a jazz fanatic among your guests.
  • Designate a smoking section for cigar and cigarette smoking guests who may find your jazz-themed party an opportunity to puff. Make sure to locate a spot where smokers can’t bother the non-smoking guests. Provide ashtrays, cigarette bins, matches or lighters, and plenty of mints in your jazz club.

Throwing a jazz party to celebrate International Jazz Day is a cool way to replicate the heyday of this unique musical style. Thankfully, a wide range of party accessories and decorations can be sourced from to set up the nostalgic mood for an evening of listening pleasure.

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