Tropical Carnival Party Style

Bring the colours of the carnival to your garden this summer

It’s not just the sunshine that makes Rio hot – this city knows how to party. Whilst Brazilians never needed a reason to let their hair down, the 2016 Olympics will give this carnival capital a great excuse for some sizzling celebrations.

As scenes of extravagance are played out across the streets of Rio why not use the occasion to host your own carnival style get-together – vibrant decorations, exotic party platters and classic Brazilian cocktails can transform a ‘gathering’ into an unforgettable evening.

The tradition of the Brazilian carnival is rooted in a clash of cultures as both Catholic and European pagan traditions and history collided. The whites brought the festival from Europe and the blacks were renowned for their rhythms, music and dance moves.

It became tradition that once a year, everyone, regardless of their background, would gather in the streets to party together - rich and poor, old and young. For one night only convention and status would be pushed aside, masks would be donned and social restraint would dissolve in the heat of the carnival spirit and a universal love of music.

In 1917 this culminated in the invention of the samba, a product of the mutual love for music of the former colonists and the former slaves.

When it comes to planning your party the rich diverse history of Brazil’s carnival culture means pretty much anything goes, it’s a time for flamboyance and make believe.

Here are TOAST’s suggestions for a Rio-inspired tropical soiree that sizzles (with or without the sunshine!).

Setting the Carnival Scene 

Think pineapples, parrots and palm tree props for an exotic backdrop to your party, keep the décor vibrant and laid back - there is no room for formality in the chaos of the carnival!

For a relatively low effort some splashes of bright colour can have a great impact.  Brazil’s colours are blue, green and yellow, so try and stick with variations on these key colours, but don’t be afraid to add some bright pinks or purples to enhance the vibrancy.

The Backdrop

Gather a selection of fiesta honeycombs like these multicolored geometric honeycomb sets from Peagreen Boat, and this fiesta garland from Meri Meri, hang them across your garden and over your table or seating area for maximum fiesta fun. Intersperse this sparkly pineapple number at Peach Blossom and these multicolored festoon lights from Lights4 fun to add an extra splash of colour that will set the evening mood.

Fiesta Pics From Partywarecom And Talking Tables

(Honeycomb geometric hanging decor £8.75, Fiesta garland £10.00, Pineapple Banner £8.00, Festoon Lights £21.99 - pictures from partware.com and Talking Tables)

Every good tropical fiesta needs a sparkling party piñata. We love this Diamond Gold Metallic Foil Piñata with confetti and sweets hiding inside from Pippi. Choose a spot with a little space and surrounded it with your other honeycombs and get ready for your guests to start bashing away enthusiastically. 

Pipii Pinata

(Pinata £34.99 from Pippi)

The Table

The perfect tropical carnival table will of course require a stunning place setting. These delicious pineapple party plates from the Pretty Little Party Shop are beautifully finished with shiny gold foil for a luxury effect. Layer up from the bottom using an artificial Monstera leaf as your base matt, and these gorgeous bright palm leaf plates from Talking Tables as your main. For an extra touch you can add these gorgeous green floral coasters from H&M for your cocktails and you’ll have your very own authentic tropical table.

Use some pineapples and cut out the fruit (you can grill it on the BBQ later) and bunch up some bright exotic tropical flowers like ginger lilies, heliconias with some palm leaves and greenery to give your table a centerpiece that will make your guests swoon. 

Picture From Mermeri And Lucie Motmariage Edited 1

(Pineapple Plates £4.69, Monstera Leaf £3.35, Palm Leaf Plates £4.00, H&M Tropical Coasters £2.99 Isle of Flowers from £39.00 - pictures Meri Meri and Luci_motmariage) 

Create a tropical paradise in your garden

If you want to add a little extra wow, get a selection of artificial palm trees to add some texture to create a true tropical rainforest feel in your garden setting. Blooming Artificial have a wide selection of Parlour Palms, Kenyan palms and Paradise palm trees or Dracaena Marginata. Simply gather them together around your dining area or create a lounge space further down the garden. You can also line them closely together to create a fun photography backdrop for your guests to pose in front of.

This simple wire-frame made my Mad Philomena is a subtle but great way to create a backdrop to your garden or a food station. 

If you want to go all out, place these fun ornamental parrots and tropical birds from Graham and Green around the palm trees. Add this fun cactus lamp and your garden will be ready to light up when the sun goes down. 

Pictures Form HM Mad Philomena Graham And Green 1

(Artificial palm trees from £10-60.00, Ornamental Parrots £9.95, Cactus Lamp £85 - pictures H&M, Mad philomena and Graham and Green) 

Seating and Lounging

Make your guest feel comfortable by creating a lounge zone for relaxing and cipahrinia supping! 

We’ve fallen for these stunning scatter cushions from Wolf and Badger which can provide an instant tropical fix, a bit of an investment but you’ll want to keep them on show long after the party memories have faded, this pineapple cushion from Zazzle also caught our eye. Pair them up with these bright yellow or pink Ganado rugs and throw in one of these bright and bold Ikat Woven Quilt Sets in case it gets chilly and you’ll create the perfect nook that your guests just won’t want to leave.  

These cute and colourful cactus pots for from White Mint are perfect for adding a splash of colour in those nooks in crannies or scattered amongst a cluster of brightly coloured tea lights.

Rio Soft Furnishings

(Scatter palm tree cushions £85, Yellow pinapple cushion £24.55, Gandano rugs £30, Ikat Wovan Quilts £189, Succulent pots £7.00 each)

The Food

Like so many aspects of Brazil, its cuisine is diverse reflecting European, African and Amerindian influences leaving you plenty of options for catering.

Espetinho is a Portuguese word meaning means "little skewer" and is the word that Brazilians use to describe what is known in English as a kebab, and a popular Brazilian street food. The most common choice is to make simple Espetinho’s of spiced beef or chicken, sausage or hot dogs, or even from queijocoalho, a Brazilian cheese that doesn't melt and so can be grilled. Espetinho’s are the ultimate stand-up food for parties, eaten directly off the skewer with no need for cutlery and always served with a hot sauce to spice it up and add an extra Brazilian kick!

Want something a little more luxurious? We'll share David Ponte owner of Brazilian eater Caban’s recipe for Spicy Malagueta Chicken on theEdit on Thursday! 

For a straightforward dish with wide appeal you could also serve, “Coxinha a chicken croquette shaped like a small chicken thigh and made with shopped or shredded chicken or meat and covered in breadcumbs, Nigella's recipe is a great one to try or these tasty little crispy puffs, or 'Pao De Queijo' from Brazilian eatery Cabana are an equally appealling tasty snack .

Failing that any form of chicken and rice is a great option – if you’re up to making it from scratch this Brazilian recipe is tempting us to get creative in the kitchen from Cherished by Me, but if those good intentions often don’t morph into action then this Sous Chef cook in sauce for meat or fish is based on the Brazilian dish 'Moqeuca' a classic seafood stew. 

For a vegetarian option try these Grilled Cheese skewers, traditionally made with Brazilian queijo de coalho, a dense, salty white cheese, but you can use a grilling cheese that's very similar in taste and texture like Halloumi. They are often often eaten with mel de engenho (molasses) and chimichurri sauce or simply brushed with a mixture of olive oil, garlic and oregano. Molasses, can be oversweet yet slightly bitter so good alternatives are honey or male syrup. 

Untitled 5

To minimize the fuss and mess we recommend investing in one of these especially designed kebab racks with heat shield so that you can grill your skewers evenly without them sticking to your BBQ! It comes with 50 bamboo skewers and folds for convenient storage – well worth the £25.00 price tag. 

Serve all of your Brazilian skewers on these mini pineapple serving dishes from H&M a snip at £4.00,or equally tropical is this palm leaf platter £2.49 from Party Pieces. If you choose the chicken and rice dish, these tropical leaf shaped serving dishes make a lovely addition to the table. 

For dessert

A chilled tropical fruit salad, ideally with mango, papaya, pineapple and bananas, makes an easy, light desert - or for simplicity serve fruit kebabs. Add a little cinnamon, sugar honey and a drizzle of orange juice and it makes the perfect refreshing dessert. Serve it all up in a bowl or place individual items on sticks with this truly tropical pineapple serving board with fruit kebab sticks £13.00.


Another traditional Brazilian dish is Quindim, coconut custard, or sunshine on a plate as the Brazilians say. Made with eggs, coconut milk, orange liqueur or vanilla extract butter, sugar and ground coconut. The mixture is simply baked and presented as an upturned cup – a simple but authentic rich and sweet dessert.


Of course, if you want a catering firm to take the strain the London Barbecue company can provide an authentic Brazilian spread. 

Tropical Drinks

No tropical Brazilian BBQ would be complete without Beer - the preferred choice for street food eaters and big carnival-style celebrations.

While there are a plethora of different beers in Brazil, the most typical are Antarctica a slightly bitter taste but with strong flavours, Brahma, the most well known offering a light, refreshing taste served with lime wedge, and Skol, the Brazilian beer with English roots and deemed one of the finest in Brazil. However, for those looking to travel off the beaten track, try Colorado’s Indica IPA, an English India Pale Ale which is made from a brewery in Saõ Paolo which has a low bitterness, citrusy flavour. Another more common craft brew is Devassa’s Tropical Red Ale, which can often be found at restaurants and Bars in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian Beer

For cocktails, it has to be Caipirinha - Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugarcane hard liquor), sugar and lime. Take a look at TOAST's recipe here

Once made, pop in these pompom stirrers from Talking Tables and the look is complete! 

To serve, these palm trees acrylic glasses from M&S are perfect for a tropical tipple, practical too if you are dining outside or add these Pineapple Cocktail Tumbler for fun - the symbol of hospitality and a warm welcome, the pineapple is the icon of the summer and these will add some colour and fun to your fruity drinks.

Untitled 7

(Pompom Stirres £4.00,  Pineapple Coktail Tumblers £3.95, Palm Tree Acrylic Glasses £3.50)

If you want to go all out – hire in your own tiki bar from prop hire company Prop Me Up – a great fun addition to create a real tropical vibe in your garden or get the guys at The Shack Revolution to create your own bespoke Brazilian bar and cocktail menu for the evening!Themeworks

Dress Code

Costume is an integral part of Brazilian culture, particularly during carnival time. Think vivid, beautifully crafted and attractive laces. Usually, carnival comes with feathers and head pieces, lavish crowns and bikinis. If you want to be a little more modest, go for a classic floral print – there are so many around in H&M or festival fashion leaders LOM Have a variety of tropical print bodysuits and two-pieces that would wow a crowd. 

For an authentic Rio carnival feel ask guests in advance to wear masks – as the host yours needs to stand out among the crowd, we recommend this beauty from - Fancydressball for £9.99.

You could also hire in a face painter to add some real sparkle to your make-up. The Glitter Box are talented artists and will create something colourful that will fit the tropical carnival theme perfectly.


(Pictures from The Glitter Box)

As your guests arrive, welcome them with this colourful lei necklace from Postbox Party.  With it's authentic feel and bright colours, it is sure to add an extra splash of island fun to your celebration. Perfect for your party guests or a prop for a Photo Booth.

The Sound of Samba!

Brazilian music is versatile, you could be dancing to modern electro one night, some funky street sounds but you cant go wrong with some Brazillian pop. But when the novelty of playing Mannilow’s Copacabana on repeat wears off bring the rhythms of Rio to your party with some Samba or steel band music – Tom Jobim’s “Girl from Ipanema” is a popular one, or of course you can turn up the sound to “Mas Que Nada” - the sounds of the carnival can’t fail to lift a room! Cabana have put together their pickof the best for you to listen to here. 

For a real Rio wow factor have some carnival stilt walkers mingling above your guests – available to hire from Julia Charles Events.

The Final Details


Create a little teaser to your event with an invitation. We just love this tropical set designed by Jennifer's paper – the combination of palm leaves and a pop of pink colour is fun and hints to the tropical theme.

Jen (1)

Alternatively for a novel idea, these Rio carnival themed magnetic invitations from Zazzle will get the word out in style!

Confetti Cannon

Because no party is complete without a bit of confetti to fill the room and start proceedings with a bang, this fiesta confetti cannon from Pipii (£6.99) filled with mixed foil and colourful paper, makes for a perfect party piece for any celebration!

Confetti 3

Table Favours

If you want to leave your guests with a little treat for the night, these craft scalloped shaped boxes from Boxes available from Pea Green Boat are perfect for wrapping in neon twine and adding a little tropical flower and foliage in each place.  


(Scalloped Boxes £8.25, Tropical Ribbon £3.00)

Place some of these tropical sugar lollipops from pink sugar works and some of these summer fruit biscuits from biscuitieers and your guest will walk away happy. Use this Tropical ribbon from hobby craft to complete the look.   

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Posted in Inspire Me

by Emma Cooling
on on 02 August 2016

  carnival, tropical

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