If you’re like me, you find the Fourth of July a little dull. Sure, I am proud to be an American, as long as I don’t hear that Lee Greenwood song. But fireworks, hot dogs, and little plastic flags get hackneyed year after year. As an alternative to celebrating our own nation’s birthday, why not celebrate the French national holiday – Bastille Day – a week and a half later? Feted annually on June 14th, Bastille Day is when the French recognize the end of absolute monarchy and the beginning of reforms (though violent) which eventually led to the Republic. Ultimately, the celebration is less about the actual storming of the Bastille in 1789 and more about the Fete de la Federation events marking the one-year anniversary of it.
But let’s not get too caught up in the actual historical details. For the sake of a party, it’s more fun to be novel, invoking all things even remotely French. Here are some of my Bastille Day party ideas for a pimped out July 14th.
Bastille Day Party Ideas: #1
French Idol? Ask guests to write English lyrics to La Marsellaise and perform them. This could piss off the same people who were upset that Spanish-speaking Americans recently penned their own words to the Star-Spangled Banner. Of course, it could always piss off the French too, but those Frenchies always cranky anyway, right?
Bastille Day Party Ideas: #2
July 14th falls during the Tour de France. So, gather a group to go biking and then vegg out while watching the Tour de France later on television. Or just take bets on who will win the stage that day. Make people wear lycra or spandex, too.
Bastille Day Party Ideas: #3
Costumes? Invite everyone to come dressed in some kind of vaguely French gear. Whether that means full-on Marie Antoinette, Paris street mime, or Hunchback of Notre Dame, there are plenty of options. If worse comes to worst, you can just make everyone don a beret.
Bastille Day Party Ideas: #4
Off with his/her head! Stage a mock beheading by constructing your own guillotine and beheading a dummy (or for smaller scale, a doll). It’s macabre, but it’s an attention getter. Should you choose to decapitate a stuffed President Bush, however, you didn’t get the idea from me.
Bastille Day Party Ideas: #5
Short, short man. Give the Napoleon prize to the shortest man at the party. Offer him a booster seat and tease him needlessly about his power-mongering, real or imagined.
Bastille Day Party Ideas: #6
Create your own “affair of the necklace.” Invoke the famous pre-revolution incident in some creative way, using a candy necklace to help keep costs down. If you don’t know the story behind this swindle, look it up and learn something new.
Bastille Day Party Ideas: #7
Arrange your backyard like the Tuileries gardens. It’s not too late to foof things up with orderly rows of flowers.
Bastille Day Party Ideas: #8
Okay, okay….so Marie Antoinette never said “let them eat cake!” But that shouldn’t stop you from baking one for your friends. Create something multi-tiered, or just do a flat sheet cake iced like Le Tricolore. While the colors are the same as the American flag, the French design is much less complicated.
Bastille Day Party Ideas: #9
Mmm…Kermit? In addition to the expected wine, cheese, and baguette, consider something more exotic, like frog legs. Or for vegetarians, what about some cool vichysoisse on a hot summer’s day – as an alternative to humdrum American staple, potato salad?
Bastille Day Part Ideas: #10
Erect it. Build a replica of the Eiffel Tower using an erector set, scrap metal, or whatever will keep your guests engaged. Be sure to pose for egregious numbers of pictures in front of the completed structure.