John Belushi immortalized this concept in an all-time favorite frat movie of the eighties. What people love about toga parties is the hint of scandal, scent of sexuality, and nod to betrayal; all common themes of modern life. Television further popularized Roman times with the hit ROME, and wildly popular movies like SPARTA firmly embedded them in our contemporary culture.
Costumes – It should be obvious all you need for this party is a tired old sheet. I offer ‘old’ since it is likely you will no longer possess it at the end of the night or if you do there may not be enough TIDE to rid it of all the fun you had. If you’re just a little bit creative a quick stop at a fabric store, i.e Jo Ann Fabrics. will yield entire bolts in all sorts of colors and textures. Spend the short money and gather yourself in some design rich fabric. In addition, Romans loved gold- even the men wore bangles. Adorn with abandon. Leather sandals or Crocks work well for shoes. Converse high tops in Bright colors will get you noticed! Socks discouraged unless really zany. And don’t forget a laurel for a headdress but don’t simply settle for some everyday ivy, IKEA has a pile of cheap plastic flowers one can easily fashion into a halo. Over-the-top makeup, and Egyptian-styled eye liner/ shadow complete this look. As an alternate to the Senatorial Roman look go with an Enslaved Gladiator image; albeit less menacing. Men love an excuse to wear a skirt.
Invites – Papyrus comes to mind. Or any other flower inlaid paper available in most paper stores. Use tall, vertical not horizontal, envelopes and pair with an oversized stamp. The invite itself might benefit to include images or motifs you can imagine they cherished during those years including chariots, serpents, blades of wheat, or hunting birds coupled with BOLD language such as “Commanding” ones presence, or bard like: “Oh Zephyr Winds that Blow on High Lift me now so I can Fly…” always raise an eyebrow.
Food – Grapes, cheese platters, roasted or rotisserie whole chickens, stuffed breads and olives are a safe route. Greek take-outs offer lots of great tapas such as spanakopita, and feta salads. The Romans appetite mirrored the Greeks so anything Mediterranean works. Essentially finger foods that one can feed another with work best, A toga party is meant to be very sensual. The food should reflect that ethos.
Music – Taking a page right out of Animal House, if you want everyone dancing till it hurts, may I suggest you choose some of the best from the fifties and early sixties. Bebop was the HipHop of that day and favorites from that error include: Hang on Sloopy by The McCoys, Earth Angel by The Penguins, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie with a little Nina Simone and some Charles Barclay and you’re party will be slaughtering golden calfs in no time.