With Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, I thought now might be a good time to share this celebrate-from-home party idea I carried out for my husband’s birthday.
Sometimes, for whatever reason—personal illness, a global pandemic, financial issues, bad weather, childcare problems—there are times we can’t “go out to celebrate” things. Maybe it’s a birthday (or a whole year’s worth of birthdays), an anniversary, an entire holiday season, a promotion or other good news. Hell, even just a regular old we-made-it-through-the-week-let’s-have-a-date-night!
Life certainly means we’re often dealing with circumstances outside our control. Unfortunately, sometimes our spirits don’t get the memo. They’re still longing for something that marks a day or event as “special” or that gives us something to be excited about, or even that makes it feel like today is not the same as yesterday or tomorrow and oh yeah what day even is it?
But just because we can’t go out, that doesn’t have to mean we can’t do something at home to make it feel special or as though we are out.
See, our go-to lately has been to lean on our typical Valentine’s Day celebration: we put the kids to bed, then pop open a bottle of nice wine, work together to make our favorite foods, and listen to our personalized playlist. (In normal times, it was a fun, relaxing way to be together, a break from the hassle of finding a sitter, the bustle of loud restaurants, and the annoyance of their weird special menus.) But at this point, even that has stopped feeling special.
For my husband’s birthday, I really wanted to try to hit on something out of the ordinary.
In the past, we’d celebrate a birthday by going for dinner out and maybe a trip to a comedy club or play or jazz bar.
Then I wondered: could I make my own comedy club?
We could watch a Netflix comedy special—there’s tons to choose from.
We could have our favorite alcoholic beverages and snacks—either made from our own stock or ordered in from a local place that does takeout.
But a comedy club is more than that. It’s the somewhat tacky décor. It’s the darkness. It’s the high top tables. It’s the people. And guess what? 3 out of 4 of those I could do.
Thus, I embarked on a plan to transform our family room (see photo below)—which serves as the place we watch tv, the cats’ kitchen/bathroom, and also my workout area—into a comedy club.
|BEFORE: Ho hum all-purpose family room space
|AFTER: Comedy Club space
(which looks way cooler in the dark so keep scrolling)
|AFTER: full panorama of comedy club
I started by deciding on a color scheme. I went with black and red because the comedy clubs we’ve visited in the past had similar schemes, and I figured it would be easy to work with those colors and also knew I could use things I had on hand. Later, I added silver accents to the mix.
My first major concern was the walls. I wanted to change at least 50% of the typical wall surfaces so they looked different. I wanted darkness, but also a drapey vibe, to mimic stage curtains. For that, I used plastic rectangular table covers ($1 each from Dollar Tree) –two black and two red--on opposite walls. I taped them at the top of the walls, right where the ceiling and wall meet.
At the (smart) suggestion of my 9 year old, I also ended up taping a red tablecloth (from our table linens stash) to cover the DVD shelf next to the tv. Because our movie collection didn't need to be visible, did it?
|No more closet. Just a dark wall.
I also wanted to close off the room from the rest of our house, creating the illusion that when we entered this space, we were no longer home. So I hung silver tinsel fringe curtains (I found a 2-pack on Amazon for 8.98.) at both entry points to our family room. They made a perfect doorway, and looked especially fun when reflecting the candles I lit later. (Bonus: they had a convenient peel-off self-stick strip at the top, so they were a breeze to hang.)
|Fringe for a doorway and some sparkle
First, I moved the coffee table that usually sits in the center of the room to a spot along the wall. (I covered it with another red tablecloth from my linen stash. Later, I put 3 candles on the middle of it and a pitcher of water for easy refills during the “show.”) This left the main space of the room wide open.
For me, the most important element for the vibe I was looking to create was a high top table and chairs. Those were pieces we didn’t already own but, after careful consideration, were an investment I chose to make. We will absolutely use them on our deck in the warmer months. Plus, in the past, I’d considered investing in a standing desk, and I realized the bar-height table would work for that purpose, too. (I was right! I've already used it twice since getting it a few weeks ago.) Therefore, I went for it. (I found the table online through Amazon and the chairs through Walmart.com.)
They worked perfectly! And—bonus—they all fold and can be easily stored flat/mostly flat when not in use.
|Table facing the "stage" with disco ball above the table
|High top table and chairs
|From the other angle, showing the entry areas
(and the dog-friendliness of this establishment...)
|From the door frame
I understand if you can’t or don’t want to invest in new furniture for this type of project. Had I decided against it myself, my backup plan would have been to set up one of our folding tables with two of our dining room chairs facing the “stage” and cover it with a dark table cloth. (If we were younger and had an easier time getting up and down, I might even have considered doing away with chairs altogether and setting up a pillow lounge on the floor in front of the sofa, perhaps using the coffee table to hold drinks and snacks. You know your knees and lower-back best, though. I defer to you.)
Extra Little Touches:
Our sofa is tan, but to transform the look of it, I covered it with red blanket from our stash. Voila!
|Off-brand Snuggie for the win
I accessorized the leather chair with a heart pillow my daughter lent me, for another pop of red. (See photo above.)
My mom found a disco ball at 5 Below ($5) which I hung over the table for an extra bit of kitsch and light-catching. (See photo above.)
I covered the table with a black tablecloth specially made to cover these types of tables. It has the feeling of a book sock, with its stretchy nylon fabric. (I jokingly called it a table condom when discussing it with people, but for some reason, that term seemed to weird people out. Ha!) It fit over the table perfectly, tucking under the legs, and made an otherwise utilitarian piece look almost elegant. (I was lucky to snag mine on sale for just under $9 on Amazon, but it’s usually 11.99.) (See photo above.)
I made a poster with the name of our Club, which I hung behind the television (our “stage”) since many comedy clubs have the name of either the club or comic featured up on stage. Because our family room is sort of sunken in our house, and in honor of my husband’s birthday, I named ours Club 47 Underground. (I got the poster board and 2 packs of red, glittery letter stickers at Dollar Tree for $2.50 total. The rest of the lettering I printed on my printer and glued on.)
|The "stage" and club signage
I lit candles throughout the room to create the low lighting. The way the candles reflected against the metallic curtains at the doorways looked very cool.
I created a “menu” of comedy specials from which my husband could choose which we’d watch. (I assembled the list in advance based on availability, user reviews, and a few articles I read on the internet discussing the “best” Netflix comedy specials on the site.) I thought this approach would be the best way to avoid sitting and aimlessly scrolling through Netflix for an hour when we could be laughing. Of course I also could have made an executive decision and chosen for us, but I didn’t want to get blamed if I made a poor choice. Haha. This way, the pressure was off of me. Win-win!
As I set it all up in the daylight, the doubt crept in. I kept thinking, “Ok, this just looks like my stupid family room with dollar store plastic tablecloths on the wall. It doesn’t feel like a comedy club. This seemed so much better in my head.” But can I just say, when evening rolled around and the lights were out and it was just candles and the glow of the tv? It looked really friggin cool. There was a definite air of "not-at-home." Best of all, my husband was completely surprised and kept remarking on the transformation. So even though we were still technically home, for a few hours, we were celebrating his birthday at the newest comedy club in town: Club 47 Underground.
|The candles helped create the perfect atmosphere
|The fringe catches the light just so
|Ready for the headliner to take the "stage"!
I have a plan to revisit Club 47 Underground for a jazz night in the not-too-distant future, possibly swapping out the red for purple accents.
So that's how I did it. It was easy (and actually very fun) to pull together, and I was so pleased with how it came out. Just sharing it on here in case you ever need some inspiration or ideas for at-home ideas.
Here’s to making our own fun with what we have!