Totally Lit Parties: DUMPLIN’

Welcome back to Totally Lit Parties, a feature in which Corrie shows you how to throw YA-themed parties!

The film adaptation of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ is on Netflix and that’s a reason to party!


Keep the invitations simple and sweet by attaching a card to a small red sucker like the one Bo put in Willowdean’s work locker. Hole punch the card and tie the sucker to it with ribbon. 

What to Wear

There are several options you can go with for your outfit. Style yourself for any of the portions of the pageant: opening number, formal wear, talent, or swimsuit (though it’s a bit cold this time of year for that one). You could also wear Willowdean’s work uniform (don’t forget your Harpy’s cap!), or even Ellen’s work clothes. Another option is to dress like Dolly, or just in your Southern best to make Will’s mom proud.


•  Mum: Nothing says Texas like a homecoming mum! Pull out all your craft supplies and see what you can come up with. You’ll likely also need cardboard for backing and glue to put it all together. If you’re not sure how to get started, check out some online tutorials to jumpstart your mum.


•  Movie: Make it a movie night by queuing up the Netflix film.

•  Drag Show: Seeing a drag show at the Hideaway is a turning point for the rebel pageant group. It broadens their horizons and lays the foundation for the help they will later receive. See if there’s a drag show near you that you can watch. If not, hit up YouTube or Netflix and watch a few shows together.

•  Nail Your Walk: Lee instructs the girls on how to walk, because “it ain’t anything that comes out of your mouth that counts as your first impression.” Have your guests try to perfect their own walks, heels optional. (After all, “life is not a river and we’re not all headin’ in the same direction.”) 

•  Magic Tricks: Mitch suggests magic tricks for Will’s talent and lends her a book for how to learn a few. While some magic tricks can take extra time, practice, or equipment, there are still plenty that you can learn for low or no cost. Here’s one using two rubber bands, and another using a pencil. I personally find the second trick easier with popsicle sticks, but use whatever you have available.

•  Dolly Quote Art: Dolly is a guiding light throughout the book. She has tons of great quotes, so picking one might be hard. Luckily, this craft is quick and simple, so you can always make several if you can’t choose a favorite quote.

You will need a sheet of heavy paper (such as cardstock), some shape templates, and gel pens or permanent markers. Pick a shape template and lay it over the top of the cardstock. Write out your quote so it fills the space of the shape. 

•  Landmark Crown: All the girls in the pageant are assigned a Texas landmark for the opening number, and they have to create a prop that represents both that landmark and themselves. Think about all the distinct things that make your town or state great and create headpieces that represent them. Willowdean had Cadillac Ranch; what will you have? (Mine is a bicycle in a tree because it’s a Purdue tradition to put unlocked bikes on campus in trees and it made me laugh when we first moved here.)

Tasty Business and Boozy Beverages

For drinks, sweet tea is a must. However, if your tea recipe is as non-existent as Bo’s stepmom’s, then consider upgrading to a Long Island iced tea. Another great option is champagne out of a plastic cup.

Definitely avoid serving chili unless you have a killer recipe. Burgers and hot dogs are a good choice if you want to celebrate Willowdean’s job at Harpy’s. Salad is acceptable only if you also have a ton of ranch dressing on hand. If you can get your hands on a good southern recipe, dumplings would be a good choice as well.

Do you have any other Dumplin’-themed party ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Corrie Golando lives in Lafayette, IN, with her husband and two greyhounds.  She spent 10 years as a middle school/high school English teacher, and her students gave her a love for all things YA.  When she’s not working at the high school library, she is writing fanfiction and doing something crafty.  She has a love of all things coated in glitter, much to her husband’s horror.