Instead of putting on the usual barbeque this year, shake it up with a party theme. Let your guests experience the taste and laid-back vibe of the Caribbean. As the sun goes down, party into the night to the sound of calypso and steel drums. Sip rum punch and fruity cocktails and enjoy the fragrances of spicy cuisine.

Where?       For a Caribbean party, the outdoors is a must. If you’re hiring a venue, then choose somewhere with adequate grounds. A pool would be awesome but not a necessity. Your garden is fine, but ensure you have an area for eating and somewhere for dancing. Decking or patio areas are ideal. An area for relaxing is also a good idea. It’s always good to provide a covered area. This will shade your guests from the sun if it gets too hot. It will also act as a shelter in case of a rain storm. Though, if rain is forecast rescheduling would be a better plan. Caribbean parties need sunshine.

Decorations       The temptation for Caribbean parties is to go all out kitsch. Resist that temptation and keep it stylish. You’re trying to capture the essence of a Caribbean island. Set out crisp white tablecloths with silver cutlery. Decorate with exotic flowers and garlands. When it comes to colors, think about natural elements such as the sky, ocean, beach, and flora. But keep it simple. Don’t go overboard. Strip everything back and then add colorful elements gradually.

Candles and hurricane lamps are ideal for the garden and will create a gentle glow as the sun sets. String lights from trees and shrubs for the evening. Look for bright colored lights and mix them with simple white fairy lights.

Scatter a few shells across the tables and add some paper exotic birds like flamingos and parrots. When your guests arrive, greet them with a flowered garland.

Booze       It wouldn’t be a Caribbean party with Jamaican rum. Look for authentic labels such as Appleton or Captain Morgan. Whip up a batch of rum punch that guests can sip on throughout the day. There’s a knack to this, and it’s all about the balance between sour, sweet, strong, and weak. Get this right and you’ve nailed. 

Virgin and non-virgin cocktails are another great idea and will add to the flavor of the occasion. Look for organic alcohol to reduce the likelihood of a hangover the next day.

Stock up on grenadine syrup, and a range of exotic fruits. Pineapples, coconuts, and mangoes are a must. Freeze some of the fruits in advance to create delicious frozen cocktails. Daiquiris and Pina Coladas also go down well. Decorate the glasses with paper flowers and umbrellas.

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Food       With a Caribbean party, you can really go to town on the food. First, some essential ingredients. You will need rice, plantains, beans, cassava, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and coconut. And don’t forget jerk sauce, Tabasco and peppers.

Think hot and spicy jerk chicken with coconut rice. Spicy chicken kebabs with mango salsa fuse hot and sweet flavors beautifully. Kebabs are a little easier to eat when guests are mingling. Serve spicy sweet potatoes and delicious plantains. Sticky jerk salmon and beef pasties are another favorite.

Arrange a buffet table where guests can help themselves. Intersperse the main meals with Caribbean salads.

For dessert, keep it simple with fruit salads. Or mix it up with some traditional dishes such as dulce de coco, flans, and rice pudding.

Attire       Set a dress code for your guests. Let them know the theme and ask them to dress accordingly. Help them out with a few ideas.

For Men:

  • Shorts
  • Light trousers
  • Bright, colorful short-sleeved shirts


For Women:

  • Long, airy dresses or sarongs
  • Bright, flowered fabrics
  • Wooden beads and shell jewelry


Atmosphere       Put together a playlist of authentic music. Mix up reggae, island music, calypso, and steel drums. Depending on the size of the party (and your budget) you could hire some steel drummers. If that’s not possible, then a playlist is fine. Live music always makes a difference, but this may not be practical if you’re throwing the party at home.

After The Food      The Caribbean vibe is chilled and laid back. Provide comfortable seating so that guests can sit back, talk, and relax. Keep the punch flowing and the music playing. For the more active party guests, create a limbo dancing competition. Arrange a prize for the winners.

Invitations      Ensure your invitations fit the theme. Be innovative and creative. Design ideas include exotic flowers, flamingos, exotic birds, cocktails, seashells, etc.

The key to a successful party is down to the guests. It’s the people you invite that will make all the difference. All you need to do is create the backdrop and set the scene.

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Written by Jacqueline Chambers

Jacqueline Chambers

Jacqueline Chambers is the founder of TGIFguide. She uses her innate skills as a natural “connector” to serve businesses, brands and individuals in the LA area and beyond.