lend me all your obscure/ridiculous dinner party themes
January 27, 2019 2:55 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I have recently discovered that we love hosting dinner parties together. I like to cook and they like to entertain.

We just had a vegan Robbie Burns Supper with great success (vegan haggis and tipsy laird!). Past parties have included Goth Christmas in July and turning the living room into a tiki bar. We like irony. We like puns. We like involved, large scale, time-consuming projects which could involve food or decorating. We are good cooks, but don't like to over-complicate things when cooking for a group. We have no food restrictions, although many of our friends are vegetarian/vegan. We like to veganize the seemingly un-veganizable.
posted by unstrungharp to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I was just thinking earlier today that it would be amazing to host a series of period-accurate dinner parties. Decorate the living room like a living room from the 60s, or like a medieval banquet hall, or like an Edwardian gentlemen's club, and then serve an appropriate menu.
posted by mishafletch at 3:12 AM on January 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

Choose your favorite animal (or just one you think looks cool/is adorable/whatever) and imagine if they were our size and had opposable thumbs (or whatever combination of manipulators that allowed them use of your kitchen.) What would they have for a dinner party? Encourage guests to arrive dressed in outfits inspired by the animal of the evening and decorate appropriately.

Turtles: (mini pizza for appetizers, natch), a gorgeous and varied salad bar, futomaki, kale chips, some kind of lime jello decorative dessert that wobbles a lot, probably shrimp and other small crustaceans, definitely snails.

Crows: any kind of food that you play with or tear apart before you eat, like fondue or lobster, roasted peanuts with exciting flavors, cheese balls rolled in herbs and seeds, gummy worms and a big berry fool for dessert.
posted by Mizu at 4:03 AM on January 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

We had a soft rock party 10 years ago that was a hit. Playlist from the Time Life soft rock mixes. We did a cheese fondue and served wine coolers. No one drank the wine coolers.
posted by noloveforned at 5:04 AM on January 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

We have done several musical theme parties. They are a blast! It is perfect for about eight people. 12 is too many. Four is too few. Eight is perfect. Here's how it works:

- Choose a "theme" for the night. For example the last party we had the theme was "falling in love and breaking up"
- A couple of weeks before the party tell everyone that they need to think of four songs that remind them of times that they have fallen in love or broken up with someone. We're talking high school stories, college, getting dumped, the one that got away, things that remind you of your current partner, etc.
- Everyone needs to send their four song titles to you BEFORE the party. They just send the titles, no other details.
- You make a playlist with all of the songs in a rotating fashion (not random). So the first track was given to you by person #1, the second track by person #2 - etc - until one song from everyone plays. Then the playlist moves on to the second song that everyone brought.

- At the party you make dinner or have desserts, or whatever. Then you start the playlist playing at a volume that is loud enough to hear, but not too loud because this party is all about stories and conversation.
- When a song comes on that you chose, you tell the story of why you brought it! You tell the story while the song is playing. When a new song starts a new person talks.

What's brilliant about this party is that everyone, even the shyer people, get to talk for about 3 or 4 minutes and tell their stories. And your more talkative people are limited to 3 or 4 minutes.

You'll hear hilarious and moving and amazing stories. We have done this about 10 times and it has never failed to be an amazing night.

This is a better party (and maybe you could say this about ANY party) if you're with people you really like, who will tell fun and hilarious stories. The music is fun - but the stories are what it's all about.
posted by crapples at 5:47 AM on January 27, 2019 [35 favorites]

Do you have space outdoors? I went to an Edwardian croquet party once, and it was really fun. We were told to wear whites, and the men used neckties as belts - I’m not sure exactly where that came from. We had cucumber sandwiches. Googling “Edwardian croquet,” it looks like there’s info online.
posted by FencingGal at 6:51 AM on January 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

A friend of mine throws elaborate champagne and dessert parties where everyone comes dressed up in evening wear, drinks champagne and eats dessert.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:53 AM on January 27, 2019

After I was an exchange student, I had a dinner party and fed all the guests food from that country's cuisine. On Friday I saw a film by Isabel Coixet, The Secret Life of Words. It primarily takes place on an oil rig. The company cook in the film makes dinner from a different cuisine every night while listening to music from that country (Italian while he is making pasta, etc.).

So you could do international cuisine themed dinners, maybe. Or, if your set of friends is diverse, take turns making food from the cultures of those friends. Man, I am so happy for you and super jealous. You are going to have so much fun!
posted by Bella Donna at 10:18 AM on January 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

I had friends who used to have Oscars party where all of the food was supposed to reference/illustrate the Best Picture nominees and that was already really fun.
posted by TwoStride at 10:33 AM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Halloween theme foods will get you all sorts of monster themes. Vampire, zombie etc. Of course the whole month of October would be Halloween. One could be called " Here's looking at you"
posted by BoscosMom at 11:47 AM on January 27, 2019

In art school we threw a memorable Cops & Vikings party, where you could come as either.

Food was doughnuts and ribs, not sure how you would veganize ribs but it could be a good challenge?
posted by Lawn Beaver at 12:22 PM on January 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Grilled cheese party! Have a huge assortment of cheeses, breads, and accouterments and everyone can customize their own grilled cheese. Add a couple of pots of soup and some beer/wine (and maybe an overall “cheesy” theme) and it’s a party!
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:34 PM on January 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Ooh! On second thought, add fondue and cheesecake and cheesy movies and just have a Cheesy Cheese Party!
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:36 PM on January 27, 2019

Three I've done are:

#DylanSteakWhisky - Listening to Dylan songs while cooking steak on the BBQ and drinking a wide selection of Whisky

#DylanBreakfastWhisky - Like a 7 course all day event with whisky-infused dishes each course, a Dylan playlist and an even wider Whisky selection

#BruceBurgersBeer - Springsteen playlist, Burgers and Beer

Ideas I have in mind but haven't yet:

#VanVinoVittles - Van Morrison playlist, Wine and a suitable menu

#PunkPinotPizza - Not the most obvious of choices, but I think has potential if selected and collated well!
posted by maupuia at 6:03 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

My roommate did a carnival night once. Fried Twinkies and Oreos, cotton candy, nachos.

Just for regular dinners, she would sometimes do "snack supper." Everything had to be bite sized. Or color nights. Like, all food must be orange tonight. Admittedly, not as exciting as other options here, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by greermahoney at 6:49 PM on January 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

We did a miniature food party (with deviled quail eggs!) for my daughter's birthday one year. The only thing not mini was a giant cupcake-shaped cake (we borrowed the pan from a friend.)
posted by vespabelle at 7:37 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

We did WWII: Invites were addressed 'ration books', food served was from period cookbooks, decorated and most people wore period clothing in some form. It was AWESOME. Some of the food was....ummm...interesting but no one cared. I think we had 20 people over and years later we still talk about it.

We are planning a 'Mad Men' themed garden party for this summer. Which will also be awesome I suspect.

We did the 'Dinner of regrettable foods' which featured 'No Apple, Apple pie (made with ritz crackers, and was actually delicious), Sushi made with Kraft Dinner and Hot Dog bits, and several gelatin themed things which were, ummm, regrettable. The weirder the better, but make sure at least some of it is good. This is also a much talked about event!

Have fun with this!!
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 8:21 PM on January 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Mid 20th century railroad dining car. The menus are all over the place online. Grab a selection from those, put on one of those 7 hour train rides through the Norwegian countryside, guests pick cocktails for pre or post dinner, etc. If you've got art deco/streamlined modern stuff around, this is the time to bust it out. Definitely make menus.

If you have enough guests and tables, set them up 4 to a table.
posted by Hactar at 11:37 PM on January 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Two that I’ve attended:

Donner Party party. All foods must reference human body parts or cannibalism somehow, eg, ladyfingers. My friend made a carrot/red cabbage salad and called it “redhead.”

Anarchist party: all foods must be red, white, or black. The host served squid ink pasta.
posted by the_blizz at 6:42 AM on January 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you considered a murder mystery party? I've had great success with Freeform Games and can't recommend them enough.
posted by sewellcm at 9:53 AM on January 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

I hosted a pirate themed party. Sea Shanties, rum, nautical decorations. What more could you ask for?
posted by Hop123 at 10:27 AM on January 28, 2019

If you are movie people, I think Movie-themed food parties are so great - you can go with different food, drinks, costumes, and decorations around whatever the chosen movie is. You can choose a movie that has food featured predominately in it, or you could just let the movie be your inspiration in some way. figure Movies with a fantasy element are great for this (Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who), but you can obviously choose your own adventure.

A group of friends and I used to have regular get-together where we all cooked based on different themes - We did a rainbow themed party once - so great. Everyone was assigned a different color and had to make a dish that was predominately that color. Would have been even more fun with clothing and decorations.

A fun one we wanted to try but never got around to was supposed to be all foods cooked on a campfire.
posted by nuclear_soup at 12:43 PM on January 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

An all-fondue party called a Fondue-Do
SO! UP! A night of soup
Breakfast for Dinner
Taco Tuesday
Funny Hats Party (not sure what it is about putting everyone in funny hats, but it really works!)
posted by wowenthusiast at 3:02 PM on January 28, 2019

I had a friend (...in, um, elementary school) who had a whole series of parties inspired by specific letters of the alphabet. And I still remember them! And it totally holds up as a theme for adults!

Definitely a pun-able element there, too. A C-themed party can also involve the sea or seeing. A B-themed party could involve a silly spelling bee. Etc.
posted by mosst at 3:16 PM on January 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I attended a potluck that was based entirely on foods mentioned in or the subject of Seinfeld episodes. I think that could work with other long running series, too.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 7:49 PM on January 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, I have always wanted to do a trompe l'oiel party -- full of foods that look like other foods. Cakes that look like hamburgers and meatloafs that look like cakes and such.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:10 AM on January 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

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