What exactly is the “Out of Africa” theme? It’s similar to Safari, but more reserved — and definitely has its own twist.
Specifically, “Out of Africa” is nineteenth century colonial — the southern Africa of Karen Blixen (a.k.a. Isak Dinesen). Sure, the lions might be prowling outside, but inside where Brits and Danes lived, you’d see an equally ferocious idea of “keeping up civilization” complete with wrought iron beds, wicker chairs, and the whitest of white linen.
More on Decor
So in addition to decorating your hall with sweeping tropical ferns and palms, you’ll want to tuck in “Out of Africa” accents like giant old binoculars, straw or seaweed pith helmets, canvas chairs (for surveying one’s grassy domain) and gramophones, for keeping up with the musical times back home — or simply keeping one’s favorites close at hand. For wall decor, mix up a few grimacing African masks with colonial posters of gentle naturalist watercolors and oils.
Other authentic touches might include heavy, brassy furniture such as blanket chests (fill with refreshments) and gun cabinets. Drape mosquito netting around the tables, on a hoop to cascade down over the cake table, and over decorative pith helmets. Display jodhpurs and safari boots. And don’t forget to add busts of admired statesmen, scientists and artists — very nineteenth century colonial. Ideally, your venue has chunky, dark wood trim and boasts a massive fireplace.
If possible, scatter animal print or sisal rugs around the room. You’ll also want plenty of candles — mixed among them, consider this tiger print candle lamp project made of wine glasses, not to mention the gorgeously exotic peacock and ostrich feather centerpiece idea.
Ask willing guests to arrive in colonial costume or African bush attire. More cautious guests can combine a conservative gown with a bold African necklace. Hand out inexpensive pith helmets to anyone who wants to play along.
As for table names, choose African animals (Cheetah, Elephant, Leopard, Lion, Zebra, Rhinocerous, Addax, Mountain Gorilla, Gazelle, Lemur, Chimpanzee, Monk Seal) or African destinations (Swaziland, Mozambique, Comoros, Seychelles, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Angola, Malawi).
Feasting, Sub-Saharan Style
For a spectacular Out of Africa spread, consider some of these masculine grilled meats and Dutch-influenced sweets:
Marinated ostrich carpaccio
French onion and ostrich steak soup
Braised Oxtails with mushrooms
Steak Tartar on ficelle
Grilled duck paillards
South African kebabs
Mini braised beef short ribs
Lamb Tagine with artichokes
Bredie (tomato and mutton stew)
Deep-fried coconut bananas in berry sauce
South African melktert (milk tart)
Paul Kruger cake
(sweet raisin buns leavened with grapes)
(aged apricots in brandy)
pudding with Greek yogurt
And don’t forget to serve those truly excellent South African wines.
For Your Favor-ite Guests
For wedding favors, hand out something edible that’s bound to be appreciated: safari animal cookies in cellophane, or safari animal chocolates.