A Local's Guide to Caribbean Breakfast Parties
I'm not usually a morning person- but it's a different story when it comes to breakfast parties.
There's something special about breakfast parties. The something that actually makes me want to wake up before sunrise. The something that makes it acceptable to drink rum punch at 8am. The something that makes the "where did my productive Saturday morning just go?" WORTH IT.
You see, breakfast parties are the embodiment of West Indian party culture. Where else in the world would you see people ducking work to wake up at the earliest hours of the morning to fete and carry on? It's easy to think breakfast parties are just about soca and carnival, but they truly represent so much more. They are an expression of Caribbean culture in its simplest form- rising with the sun, embracing the heat we've been blessed with (sorry Canada), and enjoying the company of friends who are FAMALAY!
Next week, I will be hosting my Canadian roommate in Jamaica for her first ever visit! Thankfully, Xodus Carnival's Debut Breakfast Party (aka their kick-off event for the Carnival season) could not have come at better timing. As soon as Trinidad's carnival season closes, Xodus opens Jamaica's carnival scene with a BANG on February 29th at The Ruins up at UWI Mona!
With Jamaica's carnival season on its way (and Trinidad's in full swing), I couldn't help but reminisce on past breakfast parties- and where I went right and wrong. While I've shared my tips and tricks with my friend to set her expectations high, I realised they would be useful to share with you all- whether you're a breakfast party expert or a first-timer!
As a natural breakfast party lover, I'm always looking for more life hacks, so I'd love to hear yours as well! But for now, enjoy these do's and don'ts for your future breakfast party experiences...
DO: Bring a Hand Fan
If you see me in a fete, you will also spot my beloved hand fan.
Maybe it's because global warming is catching up to us or I'm just experiencing extreme hot flashes- whatever it is, dis sun nuh normal and I need all the help I can get. Having a hand fan always pays off.
I used to be concerned that carrying a fan would ruin my outfit, but I've come to realise that they can add to it! Hand fans go far beyond the traditional ones your grandma used to bring to church; there are endless colours, fabrics, patterns and more to choose from! Hell, there are even battery operated ones.
My personal favourite are TCP's Fan Collection which don Jamaican phrases, such as 'hot gyal' and 'fan dem off'. They prove that fans have the ability to be functional, while complementing your look.
If you forget your hand fan, there are always ways to make do. Sometimes, fetes will give out branded hand fans to patrons upon entry. When in doubt, grab nuff napkins and find yourself in front of the nearest jumbo fan...or kotch behind a stranger who is fanning themselves.
DON'T: Skip out on the Breakfast
It should go without saying that you should have breakfast at a 'breakfast party', right? For some folks, apparently not. The amount of people I see mash up in the fete because they've been drinking on an empty belly is always so surprising.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is definitely necessary to hold you down with the drinking that will occur. Personally, I like to be prepared and have a starchy meal before I even leave my yaad- I've experienced how easily socializing can deter you and I cya reach the fete feelin' pop down! But with that said, remember to save space and eat at the fete- you're paying for a BREAKFAST party after all.
Just looking at the sponsors and menu that Xodus released, catch me front and centre of every booth as I reach! As a huge Chillin' Serengeti lover, I was so ecstatic to see their options and can't wait to devour their Hennessy Chocolate Crepes. This is a perfect example of a menu that I typically look for in a breakfast fete- one that infuses local and traditional breakfast items while hitting the savoury and sweet marks.
On a side note, wet wipes are a hot gyal life hack. If you don't have the space for them in your bag, find it. While this may sound random- hear me out. Wet wipes are the blessing you need when you least expect it. Whether it be a food stain, a makeup touch-up, a spilled drink, or a port-o-potty lacking basic necessities. Trust me on this, they'll come in handy.
DO: Dress and Glam Wisely
In these temperatures, not dressing wisely at a breakfast party can leave you looking like a hot mess. Trust me, I understand the necessity of a tun up outfit to stunt on di people man. However, sweating is inevitable and the last thing you want is a melted face, sticky hair or soaked clothes.
At a certain point in the morning, I can guarantee that you'll want to take off an article of clothing and dash it weh. Breathable clothing is the key here. Breakfast parties are the last place for dark, heavy or suffocating pieces. You're going to want to choose fabrics that don't stick or chafe, and colours that won't attract the sun. My go-to is usually a light romper or a two-piece set. I also stay away from long pants or sleeves, and fabrics that broadcast sweat marks to the world.
Every time I wear my hair down to a breakfast party, it's back up in approximately 30 minutes. While I'm a massive supporter of team low bun, any hairstyle that's pulled back or up is optimal for breakfast fetes. When the heat licks yuh, you slowly but surely start to feel the weight of your hair. Personally, the feeling of sweaty hair on my neck or back makes my skin crawl- so I prefer to factor in an up-do when planning my look.
It's also important to factor in your shoe choice into your outfit planning. You never know what a venue may spring on you- whether it's a muddy mess or literal Sahara dust. While it's always nice to pair sandals with daytime outfits, you can never go wrong with enclosed shoes. Bear in mind, this doesn't necessarily mean sneakers. Get creative! From closed-toe espadrilles to booties.
In terms of makeup, waterproof is always the way to go- especially with foundation and mascara. The last thing you want is for your makeup to be coming off halfway through the fete. Personally, I like to keep my makeup look simple with a light powder and contour, mascara and brows. I used to love doing eye makeup for breakfast fetes...until I realised that I'd wear my sunglasses the whole time. Sunglasses are a staple to any outfit, but they are especially helpful at breakfast parties when the sun's harsh glare hits.
DON'T: Underestimate the Sun
The exhaustion I feel after breakfast parties is next level. The sun beats at breakfast parties and no matter if you're born and bred in the West Indies, it will find a way to catch up to you- whether it be clear skies or nuff clouds. Now, while these suggestions may sound like a typical parent's advice- they truly are crucial. Heat stroke is real, party people.
For starters, do not leave the house without applying sunscreen- even if you don't typically burn. Yeah, you're not going to the beach but you will be standing in the sun at some of its peak hours. I make sure to lather sunscreen on while I'm dressing and before I apply my makeup. The last thing I want is a farmer's tan or to be shinning like Rudolph.
On top of that, it's so important to make water your best friend. The sun can drunk yuh more than the liquor itself, so it's crucial to be as prepared as possible. Staying hydrated is the key to combatting the heat, and making sure that you drink responsibly. There usually comes a certain point where I can't bear the heat anymore and switch to water entirely, but I generally like to use the 'two drinks-one water' rule when drinking.
That being said, on a more serious note, it is so necessary to drink responsibly- and be safe on the roads following the fete. Whether it's assigning a designated driver amongst your crew or hiring a driver. It's so easy to get carried away amongst all the madness and it's possible to not feel the effects of the sun until you're behind the wheel. Getting home safe is a blessing that we must not take for granted.
DO: Have Fun
Corny, I know- but breakfast parties are such an amazing time. While breakfast parties are usually complementary to carnival season, they're an experience that all should have at least once in their life- whether a soca junkie or not. They're a place of unity and celebration, a moment where you can forget all your worries and start your morning off right.
I hope that everyone has a blessed Carnival season. While I'll only be home for just one fete, I'm so happy that it'll be with the Xodus family! Debut, I'm coming for ya...hmmm vlog, anyone??