Oz: Well, a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings; shindig, dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage; and hootenanny, well, it’s chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.

– Buffy the Vampire Slayer, episode 3.2 Dead Man’s Party

I love parties with a theme – be it specific (like my James Bond Halloween), general (several of us threw a Renaissance Fair Midsummer), or colorful (a friend hosted an über-cute pink and brown baby shower). That little bit of extra creative work at the beginning pays off big time in the end – both in cohesiveness of the party, and ease of decision making down the road!

Candle wax melted into angel wings

The candle melted like this one Halloween party years ago

Theme  inspiration can come from anywhere. This year GG and I were net surfing and found Merlotte’s tee-shirts for sale. Both of us being True Blood fans, we decided it would be fun to come to the party as Arlene and Sookie. We thought about hosting a Southern Vampire themed party – but then remembered not all our friends are as eager to bare their necks for Eric Northman. So we generalized the theme to Southern Goth. I even made GG read one of my favorite Southern Gothic tales – Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”’ (if you’re unfamiliar, you should check it out; it’s about seven pages long and creepily wonderful).

I’m quite excited about this year’s theme; it’s general enough to have room for play and specific enough to have cohesiveness. For those who might not be familiar with the term, it’s a fiction style that emerged in the early 20th century when the southern United States was still clinging by its clawed nails to a decaying antebellum lifestyle. It combines elements of supernatural horror and/or the grotesque with mundane situations, usually to make statements about cultural issues. Southern Goth authors often speak out against racism, classism, and discrimination against homosexuals, as well as promote education and the cultivation of strong, independent women – often by showing how disastrous things are when theses ideals are not met. As these themes are also dear to the Pagan Princesses, it’s a great fit! Other popular stories are Stephen King’s The Green Mile, Tenessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, James Dickey’s Deliverance, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Statue, bird, and turtles in a South Carolina swamp

Swampland on a South Carolina plantation

So what does this mean? Well, we’re already starting to get our creative juices flowing. Not much has been decided yet (hey, it’s August; we can still be in the brainstorming phase at this point!), but Cajun food, cemeteries, magnolias,  and wrought iron are rolling through our heads. (GG, do you have more to share?) We’ll post more as we make decisions, and if you want to try your own Southern Gothic Samhain, we’ll include enough details that you can do just that!

Had a themed party that went over well? Share it in the comments; we’d love to hear about it!