12 Days of Downton: What To Do At Your Downton Abbey Viewing Party This Weekend

With excitement high virtually everywhere for the Series 2 premiere of Downton Abbey  this weekend (three days, hurray!), everyone is clearly thinking about how to appropriately mark such a momentous occasion. And, really, what better way to do so than by having your nearest and dearest period drama-loving friends over to watch along with you? (It’s what I’m planning to do, after all, so I’d like to hope I won’t be the odd woman out with this particular scenario…) So, if you think you might like to throw yourself a Downton viewing party this Sunday andcelebrate the return of the Crawleys to America, click through for a few suggestions about invitations, food, beverages and party activities that will make your get together the very envy of society. Or at least, get some tasty snacks out of the deal.

Item the First: Invite People!

Love these fun Downton viewing party invitations! It may be a bit late to physically send something like this, but you could always print and pass them out or come up with an email version. Get creative! Choice of whether to make people come in costume or not is completely up to you.

Item the Second: Make a Drink!

Of course, this being a proper British program, a cup of tea is always a good place to start when discussing Downton-appropriate beverages. Don’t know how to make tea like the Brits do? Learn how to make a proper cuppa.

But, if you’d like a stronger libation to toast the Crawleys on your television, you can actually make a cocktail called a Downton Abbey. (This recipe was tweeted by Mr. Matthew Crawley himself, Dan Stevens, so I feel like that makes it at least semi-authentic?) If elderflower liqueur is not high on your list of mixing ingredients, try fellow local PBS station KQED’s recommendation of something called a Stiff Upper Lip, which is apparently also Downton-inspired. Champagne seems a must-have all round, though!

The Downton Abbey

Half a lime squeezed

3 parts Hendricks gin

2 parts St. Germaine (this is the elderflower liqueur)

Top with champagne

The Stiff Upper Lip

Fill a glass with champagne
Add .75 oz of Cointreau, or another Orange based liqueur
Add a dash of Blood Orange Bitters

If you want to be extremely authentic, break out some sherry, which is what the folks at Downton would likely be drinking before dinner themselves. Sherry’s actually experiencing a bit of a resurgence in popularity in the UK at the moment, and the Independent is insisting that it’s due to the “Downton Abbey Effect.” I suppose this is the British equivalent of Mad Men making Americans wild for whiskey again.  

However, please do make sure that all of you enjoy these libations responsibly while you’re watching. The Dowager would want it that way. 

Item the Third: Have Some Food!

No party is complete without appropriate snacks. These traditional canapé recipes from the Downton time period courtesy of Foodepedia UK look amazingly tasty, though I think this crab meat one is my personal favorite. (Click the hyperlink above if tomato, foie gras, or mackerel is more your speed.)

Crab Meat Canapés (1917)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup crab meat
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon horseradish

Instructions

Chop the crab meat, mix well with seasonings, and spread on thin rounds of untoasted brown bread. Garnish with small cube of lemon

And this Edwardian-era Kitchen Garden Cake also looks intriguing. 

Unsure of how to act Downton-appropriate at your dinner party? Julian Fellowes has some guidelines.

Item the Fourth: Play a Game!

This Downton Abbey word game (also courtesy of KQED) is lovely – you get points based on whether you’re Team Upstairs or Downstairs, and on how often certain words are used during the episode.

Of course, you could always determine your most appropriate Downton persona, divide people into teams, then test out your trivia knowledge, act out charades, or pretty much do anything else that involves people having to put on a posh accent in front of a group.

Want to be extra traditional? Teach your party guests to play bridge.

Item the Fifth: Immediately start memorizing every one of the Dowager Countess’ best lines in the series premiere, for use at next week’s viewing party.