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How To Throw An Election Party

There’s something festive about election season. Is it the spirit of competition? The televised events with enormous audiences? Even as disagreements between political parties are highlighted, Americans are unified in their care and concern for the future of their country. The time is right to get your friends together for a debate or election night party. Check the debate schedule and start ordering some bunting, because we have party ideas that will make your uncle’s annual Super Bowl Party look like a study group.

Invitations

First things first: invite people! Print a ballot on cardstock and distribute them to your friends’ campus mailboxes. Your friends will have to vote (RSVP) to attend—here’s to a 100% turnout rate.

Decorations
Nothing says American politics like balloons and bunting. You can order red, white, and blue bunting online for super cheap, and Amazon sells packs of patriotic balloons. Confetti is a little too aggressive, unless you’re willing to still be finding pieces in your couch in 2016. Save some balloons in a trash bag and dump them when the result is announced. Celebratory and (static aside) mess-free #winning. 

Snacks

Cracker Jacks: Is there anything more American than Cracker Jacks? The popcorn and peanut snack was introduced in 1893 at the first Chicago World’s Fair—which means it’s lasted 22 US presidents. Give each guest their own red, white, and blue box to snack on while their eyes are glued to the TV for the debate or precinct reports.

Campaign Button Cupcakes: Campaign buttons are a tried and true way to advertise your favorite presidential candidate. A quick eBay search turns up many vintage pins—some now pricey collectors’ items. Cupcakes at your debate or election party can be both a snack and an activity if you ask guests to decorate the round tops like a real or imagined campaign button for their favorite candidate. Use a recipe for carrot or hazelnut cupcakes for a rich fall flavor. Serve them with red, white, and blue cream cheese frosting and bring some frosting tubes for very precise decorators. Red licorice shoelaces, blue sugar sprinkles, and Red Hots are some candies that would work well for this activity. Cupcakes not your thing? If you want to get really fancy with a dessert, there’s always Strawberries Romanoff, a light berries and cream dessert. The following oh-so-sophisticated recipe comes from the Kennedy White House and the French chef hired by style icon Jackie Kennedy:

Strawberries Romanoff from the Kennedy’s White House Luncheon with Princess Grace:

1 cup vanilla ice cream
4 cups halved small strawberries
2 tbsp each curacao and Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 cup whipping cream?1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Candied violets or mint leaves

Place ice cream in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until soft enough to smooth easily with the back of a spoon.

Meanwhile, place the strawberries in large bowl. Pour curacao and Grand Marnier over berries; stir gently to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes.

In large chilled bowl and using electric mixer, beat whipping cream at low speed for 45 seconds or until slightly thickened. Add sugar and vanilla; increase speed to medium-high and beat for three minutes, or until thick.

In large bowl, stir softened ice cream with wooden spoon until soft. Using rubber spatula, fold dollop of whipped cream into ice cream. Add remaining whipped cream and fold gently until well combined.
Into each of the chilled glass dessert bowls, spoon enough strawberries to just cover bottom. Top with large dollop of cream mixture, then divide remaining berries, and any juices, among bowls.

Distribute remaining cream equally. Garnish each dish with candied violets or mint leaves. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Tips: If strawberries are large, cut into quarters. Candied violets can be purchases at most upscale grocers or cake decorating shops.

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Drinks

21+: The White House recently released recipes for White House Honey Ale and White House Honey Porter brewed by the current administration’s chefs. Adventurous collegiettes may want to try their hand at brewing for a 21+ crowd. Or you could serve some Sam Adams beer, named after one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Under 21: Of course, Ale and Porter won’t do much in support of the Romney camp. Mitt Romney doesn’t drink alcohol due to his Mormon faith. Offer bottles of caffeine-free Izze or Vanilla seltzer for a less intoxicating treat. If you’re not opposed to alcohol but brewing seems too intimidating and/or too much to fit in between the library and the gym (trust me, I get it!), why not have a throwback to Lucy Hayes, married to 19th president Rutherford B. Hayes, and serve lemonade? Because of the Hayes’ strict adherence to the temperance (no alcohol) movement, Lucy was retroactively nicknamed “Lemonade Lucy.”

And really, who doesn’t like lemonade? Although, at a party in October or November, you may prefer to serve it hot.

Games

Forget beer pong or whatever else you crazy kids are doing these days; your party’s motto should be “fun and educational.” (JK… kinda.)

After devouring all of your patriotic snacks, you’ll probably want a chill activity while you digest. Divide into teams and appoint a moderator to ask these Presidential Trivia questions and tally the score.

You’ve heard of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” but that seems a little partisan to me. How about “Pin the Tail on the Mascot”? Buy two pieces of poster board and decorate one with a donkey and one with an elephant. Cut around the animals and use these scraps to create enough elephant and donkey tails for your guests. Grab a blindfold, and let the games begin!
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Movies

If it’s a slumber party, you’re obviously going to want to watch a movie. Over the years, Hollywood hasn’t shied away from depicting the White House. Here are my top candidates for screening:

Drama: The Ides of March
It has George Clooney and Ryan Gosling; need I say more? In this fast-paced election film, campaign staffer Stephen (Gosling) thinks the world of his candidate (Clooney), but he soon learns the dark side of political campaigning.

Romance: The American President
Before screenwriter and producer Aaron Sorkin brought us The West Wing, this summer’s The Newsroom, and a little movie called The Social Network, he wrote this love story about a widowed president. When assertive lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening) accidentally—and somewhat comedically—insults the POTUS (Michael Douglas), she thinks she’s forever alienated him. Instead, he asks her on a date.

Comedy: Swing Vote—Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) can’t be bothered to vote, but when his civic-minded daughter attempts to vote for him, his ballot becomes THE deciding vote in a beyond close presidential election. Stanley Tucci’s name on the cast list alone tells you this is a worthwhile flick.

Music

Did you know that you can download both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s campaign playlists on Spotify? This music is played at events and rallies along the campaign trail to keep the crowd upbeat between speeches, and to accompany the candidate as they walk out.

Obama’s playlist includes “You’ve Got the Love” by Florence + The Machine, “We Take Care of Our Own” by Bruce Springsteen, “We Used to Wait” by Arcade Fire, “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne, and Jennifer Hudson’s “Love You I Do.” Mitt Romney’s playlist contains more country music than Obama’s. Play songs by Kid Rock and Toby Keith at your party in order to channel a Romney rally vibe. Check out the full playlists on Spotify:

There are political parties, and then there are political PARTIES. Don’t forget to tweet us pictures of your festivities!

Marissa is a senior at Bowdoin College, majoring in Government and minoring in English. She's interned with NPR, The Christian Science Monitor and ELLE.com. In her spare time she enjoys writing poetry, baking cupcakes, tweeting, and admiring the big dipper. She hopes to live in a lighthouse someday, with 27 cats and a good set of watercolors.
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