In our rainbow nation, not only are we proud of our multicultural diversity but we absolutely love to celebrate it! Planning a cultural event can be a daunting task, with many aspects needing to be covered – song, dance, event decoration, fashion and food. One needs to allow for colourful and creative event planning ideas that will best reflect the nature of the culture that is being celebrated.

How can we incorporate cultural aspects in a non-literal way? Event decoration is the way to go. By utilising event decor, one gets to work with the aspects of texture, flow, colour, space, shape and form. This allows you to play with an array of event table decor ideas. Rather than focussing on numerous elements or trying to display your creative event planning ideas in every aspect of the celebration, keep it simple. Focus on one or two cultural elements that you feel hold the essence of your celebration. For example, making the table decor and glassware a ‘mismatch’ of bright colours; playing with the topic of Ubuntu whilst also allowing the guest to envision the houses of the Bo-Kaap. ‘Lekker ne?’

Keeping things traditional or are you opting for a modern take? Why not spice things up a little bit; we are called a rainbow nation for a reason! Our cultures are incredibly multifaceted, diverse and unique, incorporating an array of colour, excitement, flare and quirks. Rather than trying to incorporate every aspect, select two to three elements that you feel best represent your culture or the culture you wish to celebrate. It may seem that you are trying to compact such a vibrant affair but the selected two or three elements can be infinitely interpreted and represented through use of space, event décor, and event table décor. Say your three chosen components are ‘Shisanyama’, Patterned, rondavel-wall murals and Lion matches. Why not enjoy a ‘Mzoli’s Shisanyama,’ standing at your cocktail table, a vibrantly painted steel drum, whilst enjoying the familiar fragrance and warm ambiance that lion matches have created?

I know first-hand the feeling that overwhelms someone, when it comes to planning a cultural event. Where do I start? What do I incorporate? How can I incorporate all the elements of such a complex and rich culture? It is important that when planning such an event that you chose your ‘feel’ or ‘take’ on your theme from the beginning and stick with it. Having your theme set from the get-go takes out the ‘How’ in ‘How to plan a cultural event.’ You now have a set of parameters to work within, allowing you to have full creative reign, whilst channelling such creativity in an effective manner.

In this type of occasion, there is not a singular individual or party that is being celebrated. There is a celebration of individual experiences of such culture, but it is rather a coming together of such experiences, to celebrate within the community that such culture creates. Everyone is celebrating an individual and a collective narrative; everyone loves Akni but knows that there is a little something that makes their Tannie Hadeejas’ die lekkerste op aarde. Again, one can therefore play with such individual and collective narratives through event décor and event décor design. Do not be afraid to add your own ‘secret spice’ or personal interpretation at the expense of wanting a general ‘theme.’ You will be enthralled how people will relate to or are surprised by your interpretation; either way sparking conversation, creating connections and maybe even inspiring some to add to their own family recipes.

How to plan a cultural event