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Planning the Perfect Royal African Themed Event — Your Guide to planning an Unforgettable Event full of Culture

I’ll never forget the call and where I was when Mimi told me she was having a baby.

Picture this: you’re walking out of your local gym and your lifelong best friend calls you to share the fantastic news that she is having a baby... A BABY! I remember screaming on the phone and being so happy and then just like that, I remember going into full planning mode with my other lifelong best friend Betsy. We spent hours on the phone that same day going through everything from different themes to venues and of course what we would wear (yes we somehow managed to make it about us) and lastly but most important how we would surprise her.

Mimi’s surprise shower was by no means a BBS only production (BBS is what my girlfriends and I call ourselves- yes we know we are corny). No, we went into full planning mode with Mimi’s family and her early childhood best friends that live on the west coast. Everyone was involved in making her day amazing. That’s one of the biggest lessons I learned during this process; If you want something to be great, include those you love and it will flourish.

SURPRISE!!

Mimi moved to the U.S. on the exact date that her son is due to arrive, so in honor of that, her Ethiopian roots, and the fact that ‘Coming to America’ is her favorite movie, she asked for a Royal African Themed Shower and boy did we run with the idea. 

I know first hand how stressful planning an event can be and making it a surprise adds another layer of stress. So I wanted to share the details in the event anyone else is planning a shower, graduation, birthday or even a retirement party using a similar theme.

Best tip I can give you is, start planning early and make Pinterest your best friend. We loved getting ideas on different royal-themed showers. You can see all ideas from my Pinterest page here. Our colors were blue and gold and since it was African themed, we added greenery and African animals to resemble the Safari. Another critical tool in planning any event is creating a BUDGET and sticking to it throughout the different planning phases. 

So… what elements were involved in creating the perfect ‘Coming to America’ baby shower:
  • ‍Invitations
  • Decorations
  • Food, Desserts and Drinks
  • Entertainment
  • Photography
  • Games
  • Favors
  • Cultural Wear
Invitations

With so many options available for how to send out invites, we were torn between going old school and mailing invites out or using text message/ social media sites. In the end we decided to go with both. For everyone planning an event where people of all ages will attend this is a perfect way to ensure all guests receive their invite. 

Betsy found these adorable invites that went perfectly with our theme and we purchased enough to send to all of Mimi’s immediate family members and her parent’s friends that wouldn’t frequently check email or text messages. Everyone else received a text message with a picture of the paper invite. This helped our budget tremendously.

Royal Baby Boy Shower Invites found on Zazzle:

Prince Royal Blue Gold Card

Decorations

Decorations make or break your party. It’s the first thing your guests will notice when they walk in the venue and you always want to leave them saying “wow”. For Mimi’s shower her little sister Sam went above and beyond to put together a vision that would leave us all breathless. The idea was to enter an oasis of the rich African culture. To do this we enlisted the help of Geli Décor to help bring our vision to life and she went above and beyond for us. We rented key items like Mimi’s chair and stands, the backdrops and shelves for the dessert table from her. Most importantly she dedicated countless hours to putting together Mimi's balloon arch sitting area which became the focal point of our venue.  I highly highly recommend her for all events.

Geli can be reached at 703-300-8015 or on social media sites under @geli_decor. Her email address is gelidecor1@yahoo.com

We also did a lot of DIY (do it yourself) and bought our decorations from Amazon, Etsy, and Party City. Below are links to the different decorations we used.

Safari Animals found on Amazon:

Stuffed Safari Animals found on Amazon:

OH BABY balloons found on Amazon:

Table Cloth found on Amazon:

Stand pillow used as Crown holder found on Etsy:

Crowns used on the stand pillow found on Amazon:

Greenery wall used as the backdrop for dessert table found on Amazon: 

Greenery backdrop 

Blue and Gold balloons found on Amazon:

Candy Vases for Dessert Table on Amazon:

Candy for the dessert table at Party City:

Cupcake and other Dessert Stands on Amazon: 

Mocktail punch dispenser on Amazon:

 Food Desserts and Drinks

This is where our culture starts to kick in! You will never go to a habesha (person of Ethiopian/Eritrean decent) party and not have injera. It just doesn’t happen. So in honor of our culture we served six different kinds of Ethiopian food catered by Dama Restaurant.

Our cake was made by the amazing Sandra from CakeFest. Her designs are always the best and each slice melts in your mouth. All remaining desserts came from our local Wegmans, hand picked by yours truly.

For drinks we bought all soda, water and juice from Costco and in bulk. We also created a signature drink in Mimi’s honor called ‘Prince Immanuel’. It was made with lots of love, pineapple juice, lemonade, sprite, and blue food coloring.

 

Entertainment

All great parties have to include dancing, especially at a habesha party. We partied to Ethiopian music, did the cha cha slide and busted some West African moves, all courtesy of DJ Danny. A professional DJ that knows his way around any beat, DJ Danny had us all on our feet for hours on end. Now you can always be your own DJ by renting some speakers and hooking it to your Bluetooth. We decided to go with a DJ because of the venue size.

Being that our theme was ‘Coming to America’, it seemed only right to have a saxophone playing in the background as Mimi walked in. That small touch was my favorite part of the shower. We hired Kino Band and they nailed her entrance perfectly for us by performing You’re Queen to Be

DJ Danny can be reached at 202-817-5369 or on social media sites under @djdms_ethio. His email address is djdmsdjdms@gmail.com

Kino Band can be reached by email at kinomusicadc@gmail.com

 

Photography

Photographs are the most important detail of your event and the only thing that stays with you forever (other than the memories). Hiring a photographer is the best way to go for any occasion, as it frees you from having to worry about capturing every moment and you get to be in the pictures instead of always taking them. We went with the amazing DMV Photographer Rahel from Rahel Foto. All images shown on today’s site are courtesy of herI highly recommend her for all your upcoming events including weddings. She is very detail oriented, provides excellent service, and is passionate about her work.

Rahel can be reached at 202-413-2329 or on social media sites under @rahelfoto. Her email address is rahel1912@gmail.com 

Games

If possible have games that go with your themed baby shower. Also, you must factor in time for games… we missed this point big time and although we planned to play four games, we only had time for 2 in the end. 

All games found on Etsy.

Favors 

You always want your guests to leave with something memorable from your event and if the budget allows; favors are the perfect way to do just that.We stuck with our theme and went with royal gold and baby blue colored sash bags, with gold chocolate coins that said “Showered with Love” on them. 

Favors bought on Chocomize and Amazon:

 

Cultural Wear

Staying true to the theme, we decided to wear cultural West African dresses to represent the Rose Pedal Ladies in Coming to America and showered our guest of honor with red rose petals on the floor as she entered the venue. This was a special touch added by Betsy and it came together perfectly. She had the dresses made by Decortege.

For more information on Decortege, contact Chrystabel at 703-956-0011 or on social media sites under @decortege

I know it’s a lot to take in and trust me we were stressed at times especially towards the end, but seeing Mimi’s face light up as she walked in was so worth it. The three biggest lessons we walked away with were: 

  1. ‍Always stay organized and keep records of everything
  2. Staying on Budget is hard … very very hard but is a MUST
  3. Planning months ahead and staying on track helps BIG TIME

I hope this blog post helps you or someone you know. As always, I’d love to hear from you, send me pictures or comments on the feedback section if you use any of our suggestions or are planning your own Royal African Themed party. I’d love to see it.

Until Next Week.

Yours,