If you can’t seem to get the funds together to take that long-awaited vacation to North Africa… or if you’re simply just looking for an excuse to have an outdoor soiree before summer ends, here’s how you can get the Morrocan experience minus the jet lag.
Hosting a sexy Morrocan Midsummer Nights inspired Hafla (Arabic for partytime) is definitely chicer than a regular old PBR-and-hot dogs style BBQ. Plus you get to bring out the hookah you rarely use.
Morocco’s close proximity to Algeria, Spain, sub-Saharan Africa and Portugal gives it a globally diverse flair. The country’s position between the Atlantic ocean, desert, mountains and the Mediterranean allows you to incorporate a wide range of earthly elements like sand, seashells, gold and porcelain.
Set the Tone
To save some dough, start by taking inventory of your shelved décor items that evoke the different kinds of terrain and cultures within Morocco. Use any fabrics, curtains or tapestries you find that have traditional Morrocan hues such as dark pinks, oranges, yellows, greens, golds and browns to give your furniture an authentic Moroccan vibe.
If you find bright colors blinding or you’d like to use the décor permanently as part of your outdoor space, you can go with a neutral pallete of greens, browns and golds, while still being very Moroccan as designer Nathan Turner did as seen on Casa Sugar.
Once you’ve chosen your color palette announce your hafla with a vibrant and outdoor-inspired invitation like this one from Define 1 Lady.
The lanterns set the tone for the outdoor party and instantly lets guests know it’s definitely a Moroccan par-tay.
Re-purpose leftover pallet boards or an old sofa to create a cozy and low outdoor seating area, like this one from Inspiration for Home.
Moroccan food is generally served on a knee-high table which without thought and preparation, can be very uncomfortable for some of your guests. Comfy, fluffy, yet sturdy seating is ideal for an authentic look and easy dining.
If the party is outdoors, you can create coastal looking draperies by installing inexpensive clotheslines and dressing them with fabrics. Indoors, you can use curtain rods to layer fabrics as a backdrop.
Gather any pillows in your color palette and toss them on the couches and have some ready as floor seating for dining. To color coordinate any mismatching pillows, purchase coordinating silk fabric and cut to size. Create easy, no-sew pillow covers by following this simple do it yourself tutorial over at Organize Your Stuff Now.
To create extra seating or perfect side tables make these DIY Moroccan Pouf Ottomans via Better Homes and Gardens. Repurposed old fabric or curtains for a functional and unique piece you can use long after the party is over.
Ditch the high dining table for a low coffee table for dining instead. If the only low table you have looks too modern, soften it up by layering with oriental table cloths. Fold the cloths if they are too long and tuck them under the table, you can secure the fixture with a pin.
Soften hard floors with oriental carpets for look and comfort. Especially if the guests are dinning near the ground, make the atmosphere appealing and relaxing. Lay a traditional carpet for the space or create your own Moroccan inspired one using the easy DIY stenciling tutorial over at A Little Bit of Everything.
Now that the seating is done, complete the look by finding the right lighting. Add ambient lighting by making these exquisite DIY Morrocan lanterns via Design Sponge out of mason jars that also make perfect favors for guests to take home.
Adding hints of gold in different corners of the space can pull the Moroccan look together. For entertainment, have some belly dancer’s hip belts and some gold chocolate coins (from the party store) laying around.
Prepare for Your Guests
The day of the party, bring out a washing basin before the meal is served and pour water over each guest’s hands. Be sure to bring it back out at the end of the meal like is custom in Morroco.
Add aroma, by burning incense in a genie lamp or traditional incense holder to add a lovely fragrant touch to the space. Also, there’s no better excuse to bring out the hookah than at a Moroccan soiree. They’re an inexpensive tradition that are perfect after a meal. Commission the help of a friend who knows how to do henna or is interested in learning and give guests henna tattoos as is custom in Morocco during special celebrations and weddings.
Moroccan food is unique. Traditional cuisine has several cultural influences and you can expect colorful meals with various tastes. Spices and herbs that are commonly used include cinnamon, pepper, cumin, paprika, sesame seed and ginger to name a few. Bread is served with every meal so have some ready for guests to scoop up their food.
For dinner, try a Moroccan couscous salad recipe with beef, chicken or vegetable broth. Also try a Moroccan BBQ chicken salad recipe that’s easy and quick to make. To close, serve a tasty semolina cake and chocolate mint tea ice cream from skinnyms.com, it’s vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free.
For a modern take on traditional Moroccan cusine check out Mourad Lahlou’s new book Mourad: New Moroccan. You can also catch him on the Martha Stewart show walking through two of his recipes.
To drink, serve a refreshing mint tea punch throughout the night.
The plating is just as important as what’s served in it. For dishes that pop, serve food in porcelain communal bowls with vibrant patterns.
What to Wear
Moroccan style is colorful and long flowing. You can accessorize with head scarves, bangles and slippers.
Start off the mood and style right by setting up a bowl full of belly dancers’ hip belts for the guests to grab on their way into the party.
To dress, get inspired to wear a chic Moroccan ensemble by checking out this compilation by The Glamourai.
Some of my favorite pieces are the harem pants, water seller hat, and Givenchy scarf as a chic and modern turban.
Moroccan music can be quite romantic (maybe too romantic if you speak Arabic), but if you don’t know one word, it’s quite upbeat. Check out some tracks by famous Moroccan pop singers like Cheb Bilal and Fadel Shaker.
Are you in the mood for a Moroccan Midsummer Nights Hafla yet? We’d love to hear your thoughts and see how your soiree turned out! For more Moroccan inspired party ideas check out The Petite Soiree’s complete mood board on Pinterest.
About the mind behind the design:
Stefanie Nieves-Morales is the owner & lead event designer of The Petite Soiree Events – a boutique event design company in NJ specializing in children’s events and custom event décor. She blogs about all things pretty and clever event design ideas. She revels in designing captivating interior and event spaces that enrich the lives the people they touch.
To view her work visit : thepetitesoiree.com, thepetitesoiree.blogspot.com, or shop her Etsy shop.