Zombies are a big deal lately. Which means, whether it’s for a birthday, Halloween, New Year’s Eve, or just a whenever party, a zombie apocalypse party should be an easy theme. Here are some ideas for a party centered around the idea of the guests being survivors of a zombie apocalypse:
For that “I’m hiding out from zombies and this is all I could get my hands on” look, use old scrap paper, newsprint, even the kids’ old homework assignments, haphazardly torn with the relevant data scrawled on it in marker. Add a smear or drops of food coloring or watercolor paint or singe the edges slightly to add to the feel. If you’re expecting people to come in costume as zombie slayers (or innocent bystanders), be sure to say so!
One great thing about a zombie survivor party is you don’t have to have a spotlessly clean house! Instead, rearrange the furniture, if you can, to look like the heavy furniture is ready to be pushed in front of the door to block an imminent attack. Use cardboard with dry-brushed paint in a woodgrain to make fake boards and board up the windows. Haul out the unmatched furniture, lawn chairs, crates, boards and concrete blocks to make improvised tables and seats. Use sheets or blankets to cover windows and furniture. If you happen to have access to empty shotgun shells or the like, and small children won’t be attending the party, these can be scattered around under the windows or on the windowsills. Toy weapons can be placed near windows and doors. On the walls, tack up “newspaper” articles about zombie attacks, survival tips, the day a nearby city fell to the zombie hordes, posters with instructions for defeating or avoiding attacks (such as these posters from the Centers for Disease Control), and similar things (paper can be quickly aged by briefly soaking it in plain tea and allowing it to dry). As much as can be done safely, light the party with candles, lanterns, and flashlights, as if electricity were unavailable or intermittent.
For an eerie touch, decorate the house with out of season holiday decor, as if no one bothered to take down their Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, etc., decorations in the midst of the terrible apocalypse.
For only a few bucks you can buy this Zombie Outbreak Barricade Tape.
For a survivors-style party, think canned goods, dry goods, and camping food– the sorts of things people would have after the electricity goes out. Try pitch-in hobo stew– start with a large can of beef stew, chili, or corned beef hash and have everyone bring a can of stew, chili, soup, beans, or some sort of vegetable that would work in the stew. Clean out the cans, remove any sharp edges, and serve the stew in the cans. Combine equal parts canned corn, black beans, and salsa, then toss in a can or two of chicken for a different tasty main dish. Try making some kind of Coffee Can Bread. Offer canapes made from canned goods and spread on crackers or canned brown bread. Beef jerky, MREs, and freeze-dried camping foods would also serve well, if they’re within your budget.
If your zombie apocalypse was some time ago and now you’re facing only the occasional zombie attack amidst a life of survival on the fruits of the land, consider foods that look like they might have been hunted or dug up, such as random “wild birds” using Rock Cornish Game Hens, or “worms” made with onion rings that have been cut through or hotdogs sliced into worm-like strips and boiled till they begin to curl slightly. Offer salad made from loose-leaf lettuce and other leaves. Consider cutting up and serving more unusual root vegetables such as jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, rutabaga, or turnips. Serve local vegetables and fruits that are in season.
Of course, anything made with beans or other dried legumes, dried grains, or pasta is appropriate for a post-apocalyptic diet and makes cheap party fare as well!
There are several stores online that sell shotgun shell candy (either shells made from chocolate with various centers or cinnamon balls in a container made to look like shotgun shells). These can be pricey if you’re looking to buy very many. You might consider decorating mini-M&Ms tubes to look like shotgun shells or make your own by wrapping red, blue or green fruit rolls around small ball-shaped candies, tucking in one end, and plugging up the other end with a still-wrapped Rollo candy.
Also, Hostess Twinkies.
A lot can be done by considering your serving pieces, dishes, and utensils. You want the look to be mismatched and improvised. The fun thing with improvised and mismatched dishes is everyone can keep track of their own plate and cup, since they won’t look like anyone else’s!
Use this recipe– All-Star Fudgy Baseballs and Bats — and just make baseball bats.
Try some games that have a zombie hunters theme. Zombies!!! is one of the most recommended zombie boardgames out there. The players are trying to be the first to kill 25 zombies or get to the heliport in the center of town. ZombieTown by the same publisher focuses more on staying alive for the long haul. Zombie Fluxx is a card game where the rules and winning conditions change as cards are played. For the true zombie fanatic, Last Night on Earth presents a modular board game with several expansions where players can either take the role of the heroes or the zombie hordes. A newer game is Zombie Fried by INWAP Games, where the survivors of the zombie apocalypse are trying to out-hero each other.
If you have contact with some local teens or a theater group that would like to have some fun, arrange for them to stage a zombie attack on your party. Schedule it to be sufficiently after the start of the party that the stragglers among your friends won’t miss the fun and not so late that the early-to-bed folks are already leaving.
Instead of playing music on a stereo, check to see if you have friends who play guitar or other instruments and would be willing to play a few songs. After the apocalypse, live music will be one of the few ways to keep culture alive.
Unless the party is a longer one or is specifically a movie party, it’s best to avoid movies. People end up glued to the tube and not interacting. If you do opt for a movie, try out the cult classic Night of the Living Dead, which is public domain, only 96 minutes long, and is in the top ten of most lists of best zombie movies. If you’ve seen that one, check out the Internet Movie Database’s List of Best Zombie Movies and pick one out that appeals.
The author spoke to a game designer at Gen Con game convention in August 2011 who was designing a game app called Zombies Hate Coffee for multiple players using mobile devices. In this active rather than passive game, the players play either zombies or humans and may switch sides several times. It uses the GPS and compass capabilities of the mobile device to position players in the game world as they move about in the real world. I have yet to find it available as of this writing, but if your party mostly consists of owners of Androids and iPhones, it might be worth googling to see if it’s been released since publication of this article.
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