The historical drama series, Outlander, has captivated audiences since 2014. Based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, the series follows Claire Randall, a nurse who is accidentally transported back in time from 1945 to 1743. While Claire eventually travels all over the globe, her adventure begins in (and often returns to) Scotland, and it is this beautiful land that fans most closely associate with Claire and Jamie Fraser, her true love.
To host an Outlander inspired evening, you'll want to channel historic Scottish castles and clans, and plan to entertain your guests with with charming Scots food, games and songs. While the vast majority of us aren't lucky enough to live in an actual castle, we can certainly decorate our own houses to remind our guests of a stately Scottish fortress, so that's where we'll start.
When you think of a castle, what comes to mind? Stone walls, tapestries, large fireplaces filled with massive iron kettles, banquet halls, armor, and all manner of "royal" candelabras and fancy pieces, right? Of course, you won't be able to completely recreate an 18th century stone castle inside your modern home, but you CAN group together a few small, evocative items that will remind your guests of an ancient stronghold.
Look around your house for anything you have that feels like it would blend in well in an old castle. See if you have (or if you can borrow) some dark stoneware dishes or bowls, or some old brown bottles, or iron tea kettles, or anything made of aged leather or antiqued brass. Gather things that have a Scottish look to them, like plaid blankets or stems of heather, or even old jars of that once held food imported from Scotland, like jam or fudge.
Arrange your beautiful things as centerpieces, or on side tables, grouping items together by color. Try to vary the height and texture of your various pieces to create a visually appealing still life.
You can treat these decorative groupings as simply art, or you can arrange plates of food or pitchers of drinks within them.
Remember, you aren't trying to make any of your rooms look like a castle - you're just trying to set out beautiful things that remind people of castles, or Scotland, or both.
As you're searching through your house, leave no closet or drawer unopened! You can make use of your ceramic mixing bowls, or old dark beer bottles without their labels, or artificial flowers that you may have stashed away somewhere.
The yellow flower at the right is actually a napkin ring!
This woven bottle is a vintage Italian wine bottle from the 1970s, but its label isn't visible, so it works well as a backdrop to add some age to this grouping.
The combination of brown and gold tones complement the shades of the foods displayed here, and set off the colorful red plaid blanket beautifully.
There's even an old tea kettle and a half-burned pillar candle at the back -- neither of which is particularly Scottish, but both of which help sell the "old castle" feeling.
For fun, you might like to name various rooms in your house as if they are locations in the Outlander world.
When we held an Outlander Evening at The Storyteller's Cottage, we called our spaces The Laird's Leg Pub, The Apothecary, The Cottage Cloister, The Banquet Hall, The Chapel and The Scullery.
SCOTTISH THEMED FOOD & DRINK
Here's where you can highlight and emphasize the Scottish nature of your evening! Whether you choose to purchase some imported specialty items from a local shop or online, or whether you're brave enough to bake some Scottish treats in your own kitchen, be sure to label each of your dishes so your guests can make the connection between what they're eating and the theme of the night. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Main Buffet Items
Scottish Smoked Salmon Spread on miniature brown bread with capers and dill
Oatcakes and Scottish Cheeses
"Circle of Standing Scones" with assorted jams
Dessert Buffet Items
Individual Bread Puddings with whiskey sauce
Cranachan: raspberries topped with oats, cream & whiskey
OUTLANDER THEMED ACTIVITIES
We were lucky to have a fantastic team of husband and wife musicians who played traditional Scottish melodies on the harp and fiddle live for us at our event. (Fiddle & Harp) Our resident professional singer, Amanda, even led the group in a beautiful singalong of the Outlander theme, the Skye Boat Song. Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser, introduces the lyrics HERE.
In addition, we had a fortune teller set up in our secret castle room, and our guests lined up to visit her in the candlelit room and watch her throw bones, read runes and predict their futures.
In the dining room, we set up a crafting table full of printed scrapbooking paper where guests could go and create their own beautiful bookmarks and cards with a Scottish theme.
Later in the evening, we played a few rounds of the traditional Scottish game, Blethers, a silly game based on lying, then capped off the evening with a trivia game based on our guests' knowledge of the Outlander books and tv series, where they had to guess which character said the lines that we would read out.
Fans of the Outlander series will love spending an evening immersed in 18th century Scotland, and it's easier than you'd think to create an atmosphere that they'll remember long after the party has ended!