Setting the scene:
England in the 1500s was a glorious adventure filled with castles, towers and royal gardens. It was also filled with dungeons, dung-covered streets and plague-carrying rats. But let's focus on the positive and make this party a serious option for people considering heading to a Medieval Times dinner and tournament (there are nine locations in North America). Drape richly colored luxurious fabrics such as velvet and velour loosely over your couches and chairs, then accent with pillows of the same vein (the royals love their pillows). Then grab some raw wooden tables, bookcases and doors you find at thrift stores or yard sales, and embellish them with black metal studs, hinges or handles to add to the period feel. Weather them with chains, paint and/or a torch. (Hey, don't get lazy on us.) Use faux marble or stone wallpaper on the walls (tack it, don't glue it) and cut in cathedral-style window silhouettes with low-wattage pot lights behind them. You'll want a few torches on the walls along with some tapestries. Be sure to leave some goblets and armor lying about. Outside of your front door, hang royal banners and scatter some hay (it was the 87-octane of their day).
Everyone better show up in costume, or they're being sent home with the plain Anne Boleyn. Encourage guests to rent, buy or make costumes that they can later wear to a Renaissance festival. The show's Web site even has period clothing for sale.
On the menu:
Henry is pretty lean during this stage of his life, but he turns into a noble bowling ball shortly thereafter, thanks to a diet of whole turkeys, hams, duck, bakery breads, wine and mead (that's beer to you and me).
On the hi-fi:
The soundtracks to seasons one and two are available and feature such instant classics as Henry Meets Anne Boleyn and Wolsey Commits Suicide/Finale. Yep, you'll dance the night away.
Our first instinct is to slip some cash to one of the stable boys at Medieval Times to bring some horses over in full regalia. But if that doesn't work, contact the closest Renaissance festival, and rent a few horses and riders to hang around in the front yard with jousting poles.