|Photo, “Anime festival contest winner,” by Suvudu via flickr|
Here's all you need for a home karaoke girls night that will provide memories for months to come. Karaoke is wildly popular in Japan, as you probably know, and throughout much of Europe as well. In the U.S., karaoke has its devotees, but many of us have never rocked the mic at our local karaoke night—nor would we dare to! Fortunately, it’s easy to host a karaoke party for your gal pals at home and have all of the fun without all of the stage fright! Singing is therapeutic, a sure cure for the winter blahs, and recessionistas, it’s low-cost entertainment. Here’s how to do it!
Setting and SetupThe two most important things you need for this party are a karaoke machine and a space to perform. Believe it or not, karaoke can be done in a very small space. You don’t need a stage, but you will need a clear area so your girlfriends can strut their stuff.
For the karaoke machine, you have several options:
- Rent a karaoke machine through a local dealer. Check your yellow pages or do an internet yellow pages search. The going rate is about $70 a night. Nationwide Karaoke will rent you a machine for $59 plus shipping and handling. (You will need to deposit $200 though, which you’ll get back when the machine is returned).
- Buy a karaoke machine. Target has a huge selection at different price levels. The cheapest ones consist of a microphone that have a plug-and-play feature, allowing you to turn your TV into a karaoke machine.
- Borrow a machine if you’re lucky enough to know someone who owns one.
For decorations, consider paper lanterns (try Pier One or World Market) or other bright, pop-Japan decor. You may even want to add a strobe light or disco ball. Again, Target is a great source for this kind of thing.
Finally, you will need a sign-up sheet for singer name & song choice. It’s always a good idea to print extra copies of the song list so that more girlfriends can choose their songs at the same time. Choosing the right song can take a while!
InvitationsOrder some printed invites in a karaoke theme from PartyInvitations.com. You can even select some in an 80s or 70s disco theme if you want to narrow your karaoke party focus. Evite also has some cool karaoke invitation choices. Just do a search on “karaoke”. On your invites, give your guests dress-up suggestions, if desired (for example, dress as your favorite performer or in a 70s, 80s, disco, or heavy-metal theme). Dressing up is one way that your too-shy-to-sing girlfriends can still participate in the fun.
Food and drinkIt is suprisingly easy to put together a Japanese-themed nibbles buffet. Trader Joes, Costco, even your local grocery have gorgeous sushi platters. Trader Joes also carries frozen gyoza (potstickers or dumplings) and colorful wasabi rice crackers. A veggie platter will round out the offerings. You might want to visit an Asian market for other nibbles or sweets. Be sure you have plenty of drinks to keep the girls’ vocal cords hydrated! Japanese beer such as Kirin or Sapporo is refreshing. You can also try sake (japanese rice wine) or cocktails of your choice. Soda and sparkling water are good non-alchoholic choices.
Connecting ActivitiesLet’s sing, girlfriends! Karaoke IS the connecting activity, designed to get help you let loose with your gal pals and, I hope, get a glimpse of your friends’ inner divas. How you structure your evening is up to you, but here are some tips for getting the most out of your karaoke girls night:
- Start with a group vocal warm-up. Here’s a guide to how. Want more voice tips? Read some in-depth advice for karaoke singers here.
- Please remember, some girlfriends may be shy, so respect those who don’t want to sing. But do encourage the hesitant ones with some group numbers. Shy gals can always be the back-up singers.
- Develop some Motown-style dance moves together, then practice before recording your routine on the aforementioned video camera.
- Have props available for singers. You can buy cheap inflatable instruments guitar and saxophone—from Oriental Trading Co. Sunglasses, feather boas, wigs, hats, leather jackets, or anything glittery will come in handy too.
- Remember to cheer and clap for the girlfriend with the mic. Show her some love!
What to sing? That is a topic that could be an article in itself, and in fact there are several blogs on the web that have tackled the subject of “best karaoke songs.” In general, keep your song choices light. This is more about having fun than it is about serious singing. So take a pass on the love ballads and choose lively, fun numbers. For example:
- “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
- “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
- “Man I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain
- “We are Family” by the Pointer Sisters is a fun group number
Put your fun girl-song suggestions in the comments!
Party FavorsCreate gag awards for the best, worst, funniest, performance. Make some ballots, let the girlfriends vote at the end of the night and tally the votes. Get some costume jewelry and award the winner bling, a golden microphone shirt, or buy a cheap (or toy) microphone and spray paint it gold. Make girlfriend portraits. Consider getting some large anime posters, like one these, or one of Tokyo to carry out the Pop Japan theme. Or create your own backdrop with paper lanterns and a brightly colored wall. After the party, deliver a photo, in a karaoke-themed printable frame from HP, to your girlfriends as a remembrance of their singing sensation!
If you try this karaoke-themed girls night, I’d love to hear from you! Be sure to let me know your favorite karaoke songs in the comments!