Must-Try Downton Abbey Finale Party Ideas
It’s true: Downton Abby is ending. After several seasons and plenty of love, support and occasional pearl-clutching from its loyal fans, it’s time to say goodbye to the characters of Downton Abbey. And what better way to send-off this entertaining show than with a finale party that would make even the Dowager Countess pleased? If you want to throw the most Downton-est Downton Abbey finale party of them all, consider the following must-try ideas and tips.
Send guests a dress code to ensure the proper attire
Part of the fun of a themed Downton Abbey party is the right look! It would throw off the vibe of the evening if some guests were dressed to the nines (well, the nineteen-tens!) and others were wearing casual blue-jeans and t-shirts.
Unless you have a circle of friends who are dedicated to making the party an authentic historical affair, don’t be too strict with the dress code. The goal is to wear something that looks historical, not alienate friends by requiring an authentic costume. Thankfully, men’s dinner fashion at the time won’t be too hard to replicate with a nice suit! For women’s fashion, it can be a bit trickier.
When sending out invites with a dress code, you might want to include a basic guide to creating an Edwardian costume with modern wardrobe fare. For example:
- For a simple Edwardian look: Tuck in a long-sleeved blouse (white or light colors preferable) into a long fitted skirt. Pin your hair loosely up and combine with a brimmed hat decorated with a fake flower or nice ribbon. Brooches and pearls make great accessories.
Since it is a finale party, why not suggest guests dress up as their favorite Downton characters? This will make the evening more memorable and it could even result in some great conversation starters!
Prepare an Edwardian multi-course meal
As any episode of Downton Abbey might have already taught you, dinner in a wealthy Edwardian home was meant to be something of a show—so don’t skimp on the actual meal for your party! A proper Edwardian dinner would have multiple courses. Unless you’re a trained chef with the time, patience and organization skills to pull it off, we don’t recommend trying for an authentic 14 course meal; but an elegant 5 course meal can be just as fancy.
First Course; Soup: Soups were typically consommé broth soups or cream soups, usually vegetable; keep it simple but well-made. It is the start of your meal, after all!
Second Course; Small Entree: A small protein entree. Fish or chicken was usually served during this course, accompanied by light sauces or lightly cooked vegetables.
Third Course, Palette cleanser: A palette cleaner, such as a fruit or mint sorbet, was used to clear the palette after eating meat.
Fourth Course, Meat Entree: A larger meat entrée, usually accompanied by heavier sauces and side dishes. Common proteins included baked chicken or fish, steak, or roast beef. There are a lot of Edwardian-inspired recipes online, so don’t be shy to go all out for this course!
Optional: Cheese and bread selection. It was customary to offer guests a selection of nice cheeses, breads and fruits before the final course. Since this is a party for the finale, it wouldn’t hurt to go the extra mile for your guests.
Fifth Course, Dessert: At a very formal dinner, there might be several desserts served during the dessert course, but you can certainly make do with one or two! Common desserts included ice creams, fruit tarts, and petit fours.
If you’d like to make the dinner extra ‘Downton,’ check out the book ‘Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey’s Elegant Meals,’ it was written by Larry Edwards, an award-winning chef who is a big fan of the show—and the food featured on it!
Take the time to set the scene—and don’t forget the living room!
You’d be surprised at how much atmosphere will be added to your Downton Abbey party if you take a little time to make your home look a little more period-appropriate. Depending on what era to party in, you could forego most of your electric lights and decorate the dining room with candles; remember to practice candle safety or purchase electric candles that will give you the look without the fire hazard.
Don’t forget the little touches, either—you want to make Mr. Carson proud! A clean white tablecloth and at least one centerpiece (or more, depending on the length of your table) is a definite must. The Crawleys usually had silver candelabra lining the table but, again, there’s no shame in skipping the candles or going for electric candles just to be on the safe side. You should also break out your nicest silver and dishware; imagine what the Dowager Duchess would have to say if she were served on a cracked plate!
And of course, since this is a finale party: don’t forget about your living room! It would be a shame for the dining room to be elegantly decorated and your living room to look like it always does. Even simple touches like a nice linen tablecloth on your coffee table and some 1910s or 1920s music (the show does end in the early 1920s, after all) playing in the background before the show starts can add a lot to your evening.
Other ideas and tips
- Plan to start the dinner well before you watch the finale. If you are serving multiple courses, you will likely need about 2 hours for your guests to finish eating; you’ll also want some cushion time to compensate for clean-up and conversations. To avoid confusion, include both a dinner time and a “finale watching time” on your invitations. (For example: “Dinner is at 6:00 pm sharp; finale-watching will commence at 8:30 pm.”)
- During dinner, have guests talk about their favorite Downton Abbey moments—or even their least favorite! It wouldn’t be a Crawley dinner without some snarky conversation, after all!