Dinner Party Theme

Ethnic

One of the most popular dinner party themes is ethnic food. If you’ve got guests with finicky palates, stick with cultures whose foods are more mainstream such as Italian, Mexican or Chinese. Adventurous diners can sample Thai, Ethiopian, Indian or Japanese cuisine.

Decorations can be simple — a red-and-white checked tablecloth topped with a candle in an old Chianti bottle for an Italian theme; paper lanterns and a big bowl of fortune cookies for a Chinese theme; figurines of elephants and banana-leaf placemats for a Thai theme.

Play music from those cultures to add to the ambience. Just make sure the volume is set on the low side.

Unusual Holidays

A Valentine’s Day party can be lots of fun, but it’s hardly a novelty. So try picking a lesser-known holiday or day of note from which to create your dinner party. The sky’s the limit.

If you choose Groundhog Day, for example, you can serve all brown foods, foods shaped like the furry critter, or plan your evening according to the popular 1993 movie of the same name. Dine on dishes referenced in the movie, and play the soundtrack in the background.

And you could create your own holiday — or steal someone else’s. Throw a party to celebrate Festivus (every Dec. 23), courtesy of Frank Costanza on the TV show “Seinfeld.” The Feats of Strength, one of the hallmarks of Festivus, would make for some great after-dinner entertainment

Movies, Books and Plays

Everyone has a favorite movie, book or play. So why not plan a dinner around yours? It certainly helps if your favorite has a strong food component, such as “Eat Pray Love,” a movie which initially centers around pasta, or “Chocolat,” a story about a female chocolatier.

But even if your favorite is the Harry Potter book series, it’s not a problem. In fact, it might even be more fun. The books’ butter beer, pumpkin juice, treacle tarts and cauldron cakes, just to name a few, would be fun to invent if you like to tinker in the kitchen. But you wouldn’t have to do that. The series is so popular that lots of websites, including YumSugar.com, already have recipes that you can use.

Still other movie/book/play themes — “Casablanca,” for example — could center more around the decorations and ambience than the actual food served. With the movie playing, a sign reading Rick’s Café over your dining area and classic cocktails ready upon guests’ arrival, you’ll be all set.

Historical Eras

Certain times in history have left strong images in our minds, whether we were alive during the period or not. What do you think of when you hear about the Prohibition Era or Flower Power? What about the Victorian Era, the Renaissance or the Roman Empire? Translate that into a dinner party idea.

A 1960s Flower Power party can mean tie-dyed placemats, beads in the doorway and endless music choices (think the original Woodstock Festival). If you tie in the food from that era, you’re probably talking comfort foods like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, with whipped cream-topped gelatin for dessert. Add to the ambience by purchasing nostalgic toys for guests to tinker with before and after dinner. It doesn’t hurt to dress the part, either – bell-bottom jeans and a fringe vest would be right on, man.

Color Palettes

Dinner party themes don’t have to take their cues from food or drink. Color themes are a popular and fun way to make a meal unique. A lemons and limes party features yellow and green decor, and guests at black and white dinners (which are increasingly popular) are often asked to wear only black or white.

Of course, it’s easy to slip a little of the color theme into the food and drink — lemonade, lime vodka cocktails, lemon bars and key lime pie are all easy items to add. Similarly, a black and white dinner can conclude with, say, vanilla ice cream accented with chocolate syrup, followed by white and black russians as after-dinner drinks.