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How To Throw a Black & White Ball

Invoke the glamor of early Hollywood films or simply the stunning graphic effect of a room filled with only black and white, and host a Black & White Ball! Great as a fundraiser or a memorable social event, the premise of a Black & White Ball is that guests are requested to only wear black and white.

One of the most infamous Black & White Balls was hosted by author Truman Capote in 1966. Held at The Plaza Hotel in New York City, it was considered by many to be the social event of the decade, perhaps even the century. Guests like Frank Sinatra, Andy Warhol, and Babe Paley joined 500 others in an event that was seemingly so significant it has its own book and full issues of magazines devoted to it. Though not the first Black & White Ball to ever be held, Capote’s is perhaps the most known.

To recreate that glamor as your Halloween theme party, keep reading to learn how to host a successful Black & White Ball – including tips on decorations, menu, and costumes.

Begin The Mood – Invitations

A Black & White Ball is about glamor and glitz. If you can afford it, emboss your invitations on a heavy card stock. For a less expensive alternative, print them at home using an elegant font and heavy paper. If you’re hosting your Black & White Ball as a fundraiser event, consider having the tickets printed by a professional printer. These will serve as a beautiful keepsake for your generous donors.

For a more casual party, such as a Halloween get together, let your guests know that formal dress isn’t expected, just black and white. You may also want to call your event a Black & White Party, as the term “ball” tends to suggest a formal event.

Invoke The Mood – Decor

Nothing less than black and white will do. Elegant white tablecloths, crisp black napkins, white candles and black carpet. Don’t go too far with it though, or you’ll make the room like a black-and-white checkered diner. Keep it simple and subdued, yet absolutely striking.

If you are looking to recreate a splash of Hollywood glamor, consider having black and white photographs of Hollywood icons like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable and even Charlie Chaplin blown up and printed on poster paper. You can then hang them around the room. Another cute take on the icons idea is to convert photographs of your guest into black and white images (usually easy with most digital photo programs) and have those blown up instead.

The Menu – Food and Drinks

Not absolutely everything has to be in black and white, but a few choice food items should give a nod or two to the theme. Here’s a great Black & White Ball appetizer idea:

Black & White Pizza Hors d’Oeuvre

  • 1 ball of pre-made pizza dough
  • 3 cups of black beans
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 8 ounces of shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups of sliced Kalamata olives
  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Oil a pizza pan or standard rectangular baking pan.
  3. Flatten dough to the edges of pan.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Combine oil, cumin, garlic, and half the beans. Mix WELL until smooth.
  6. Spread bean paste over dough.
  7. Sprinkle cheese, allowing bean paste below to show.
  8. Arrange olives and remaining black beans over the top.
  9. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
  10. Remove and allow to cool. Sprinkle pepper over the top.
  11. Cut into bite-size pieces, ready to serve.

Many other foods, like chicken, olives, pasta, bean paste, black caviar, white crackers, and Brie can all be used to incorporate the Black & White theme into your event.

For desserts try white truffles, black and white chocolate cake, and white fruits with dark chocolate. To create a signature black and white drink for the night, mix Kahlua or any dark coffee liqueur with vanilla schnapps. Done slowly, the two liquids should remain layered and separate – making a fantastic (and delicious) graphic effect.

Costumes To Wear

Black and white, of course. For a more formal event, men should consider a tuxedo or black suit. Women should wear a black or white (or black and white) cocktail dress or gown. For a more casual night, any piece of clothing that’s black or white should do the trick.

As fancy as it can all sound, a Black & White Ball can be as ritzy or as casual as you want it to be. For a great Halloween twist, have your guests come as a celebrity who actually attended a black & white ball! Whatever you decide, let your guests know the expectations, plan well ahead, and last but not least, remember to enjoy yourself on the big night!


About Chris Molnar

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