Ink and Fairydust
By Paul Xavier
#1. Christmas Lights. Collect as many strands as possible (as well as extension cords when necessary) and use them with joy! They may not be period, but twinkling lights put people in a party mood, not to mention providing necessary illumination after dusk. Christmas lights can be easily draped along fences, the sides of houses, or between (and around!) trees. If you don't have a fence, collect short (three feet) poles or posts, drive them into the ground, and string the lights between them to create a makeshift one. If you have a garden trellis, make sure you cover that as well! #2. Awnings, canopies, and tents. Gather together old curtains, bedsheets and large pieces of fabric and drape them over trees and posts to create charming booths and shade providers. If you are going to have a 'king' and 'queen' for your Renaissance fair, be sure to provide them with a canopy over their 'thrones.' The 'thrones' themselves should be appropriately covered with fabric and pillows. #3. Flowers. If you don't have many gardens of your own, ask your friends to lend you their potted flowers and plants for the day.These can be arranged decoratively around your lawn to provide beauty, pleasant aromas, and lovely photo opp backdrops! Just be sure to keep them watered and out of the way of rowdy dancers or children. #4.Weaponry. Period weapon pieces can be collected from friends and hung or displayed around your property. If you can't find real ones, you can easily make fake ones. Swords and shields can be sawed out of wood or cardboard and spray-painted or covered with tinfoil. Track down medieval and Renaissance heraldic embalms and paint them onto the shields. A row of shields hanging along a fence makes an excellent backdrop for photos or games.
For beverages, the easiest, cheapest, and most universal drink is going to be ginger ale. It's a tasty, non-alcoholic beverage that looks very period appropriate. Grape, apple and cranberry juices are also excellent options. If you want to give them a bit more zest, you can mix them with mineral water.Warning: Mineral water can be rather expensive, as can the above fruit juices. If you are trying to stay economical, go for the ginger ale, or frozen apple juice. Bread, meat and cheese were huge staples in medieval diet.Your guests should easily be able to bring a loaf of artisan or french bread, or bake up a batch of wheat or oat buns. Some stores will offer discounted prices on french breads, making it another money-saving option. For meat, the most economical choice would be chicken. Pork and beef would also be accurate to the time period, but are likely to be more expensive. If it's later in the fall, and you have friends that hunt, you may be able to persuade one of them to donate a few ducks or some venison to your festivities. As far as cheese goes, try to stick with white, as that is the natural color. Cut it into large chunks to serve your guests. If anyone wants to bring a special brand or type, don't discourage them. However, regular white cheddar will do just fine. If it's in season, you can have your guests find berries, apples or pomegranates. Salads and potatoes were not introduced into European society until much later. For dessert you can recommend fruit pies and pastries. Nothing with chocolate or pumpkin, as they also were much later additions to European diet.
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