Hosting a dinner party for your friends or family members can be a great way to socialize and make memories on a personal level. Dinner parties tend to have smaller guest lists and people are able to have conversations and connect over a delicious meal.
To make your dinner even more memorable, consider hosting a themed meal where the dinner invitations, food menu, and decor all center around one main idea. It doesn’t have to be complicated, these themes and ideas can be very simple and still make a big impact on your guests. Keep reading for our favorite dinner party themes and ideas for an unforgettable meal with friends.
How do you throw a themed dinner party?
A themed dinner party requires more planning and execution than one without a theme. There are a few steps to hosting the perfect dinner party, but the end result is sure to delight your guests and create a memorable night for everyone.
Choose A Theme and Invite Your Guests
First, you’ll want to choose a theme. We’ve got some great ideas below, but be sure you pick something you’re comfortable throwing. Read through our suggestions for food and decor and choose something that fits with the decor you already own or menu items that you know how to cook.
Selecting the right dinner party invitation lets your guests know what to expect from your party. If they’ll need to dress accordingly or bring any food or games, the invitation is the perfect place to let them know.
Plan A Menu Your Guests Will Love
To plan the perfect menu, choose foods that not only fit the theme but also your party’s atmosphere. If you and your guests will be standing a lot of the night socializing, a casual dinner menu with lots of finger foods is ideal. On the other hand, a formal sit-down dinner requires some thought into courses and whether you’ll serve family-style or plated courses.
Create the Perfect Ambiance
The decor you choose will set the party’s mood, so plan ahead and stay on theme. We suggest that you start planning your decor as soon as you choose the theme. You may need to purchase a few new decor pieces and you want to give yourself plenty of time for them to arrive.
Also, consider lighting and music throughout the night. If your dining room doesn’t have enough light after dark, consider adding some twinkle lights or a corner lamp for the evening. Create a playlist with songs that fit your theme and will last for most of the evening.
Unforgettable Dinner Party Ideas
Here is our list of several unique and fun dinner party themes and ideas for your next get-together. We tried to include invitations, menu ideas, and decor options to help you host a memorable evening for your friends.
Elegant Full-Course Meal
A classic dinner party theme, hosting a fancy full-course meal is an intimate way to get your friends together for conversation and great food. Typically the meal would be three to four courses with an appetizer, soup or salad, an entree, and dessert. Make-ahead meals are great for these types of parties so you have more time to spend with guests. Or you could have the meal catered and enjoy the evening with your friends with no worries about food.
For elegant decor, keep things simple and refined. A statement centerpiece on the table creates a classic and chic dinner table that may encourage some dinner conversations. Use your best dinnerware and glasses for the occasion. Classic white dinnerware looks lovely on any tablescape. Cloth napkins in a neutral color also up the elegance factor, especially when paired with a fancy napkin ring.
For this meal’s theme, we love a stylish dinner party invitation for an elegant feel. Make it clear to your guests in the invitation or when they RSVP that the dress code is formal and what you’ll have on the menu.
Wine Pairing Dinner Party
For your wine-loving friends, try hosting a wine-pairing party where each of the courses goes perfectly with a bottle of wine. You can have your guests choose a bottle they love before the party so you can pair a course of the meal with it, or you can choose the bottles yourself to create the pairings.
Use clean, empty wine bottles filled with battery-powered fairy lights as decor around the room or as centerpieces for your dinner table. You can also make DIY wine cork place cards for your guests’ seats. Use candles for additional lighting and decor, but opt for unscented as scented candles could interfere with your guests’ wine tasting. Have printed cards with the menu and wine pairing listed so your guests know what they’re being served and can make their own notes on the pairings.
A dinner party invitation with wine motifs as the feature is a surefire way to let your guests know what to expect. Ask them for wine preferences when they RSVP so you’ll be sure to have something for everyone.
Family Recipe Potluck Dinner
A potluck dinner is where everyone brings a dish to share. It takes a load off the host’s plate and allows guests to share their cooking skills and stories behind their favorite recipes. Take the potluck theme a step further by asking guests to bring a family favorite recipe. Something that has been handed down through their family. This is a great conversation starter and allows guests to get to know each other personally through food.
We love a potluck party invitation with a vintage-style pot. It gives off just the right amount of casual homeyness for this style of party. Have your guests let you know what they’ll be bringing ahead of time so you don’t risk any duplicates. You can also make foods to fill in gaps if there aren’t enough protein options or sweet treats on the menu.
Keep the decor simple and sweet. Cover a buffet or large table with butcher paper and as guests bring dishes, write their name and the dish name on the paper so guests know what is being served and who made it. You can also write any specific ingredients or dietary restrictions as well. Use bouquets of fresh flowers, white candles, and simple dinnerware and glasses. Since it’s a family recipe party, keep everything comfortable and casual, like you would during a big family meal.
Breakfast for Dinner Pajama Party
A fun, casual dinner party idea is hosting a breakfast-for-dinner pajama party. Allow your guests to wear their comfiest pajamas and serve classic breakfast favorites. Decorate using lots of cozy blankets and comfy pillows for pre-dinner cocktails. Serve breakfast-inspired drinks like boozy smoothies and create a build-your-own mimosa bar where guests can get creative with their bubbly cocktails.
For dinner, your friends can gather around the table with a family-style feast of french toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, and sausage. You could also whip up one savory and one sweet breakfast casserole for make-ahead dishes that fit the theme but don’t require lots of separate preparation and cooking.
For the table settings, go for bright and sunny like you would for a morning meal. Fresh flowers, pitchers of bright fruit juices with juice glasses, cute mini pitchers for syrup or fruit compotes. Since it’s a casual affair, keep plates crisp white and glassware simple.
Outdoor Patio Dinner Party
Nothing beats dining outside when the weather is nice. If you’re hosting a party in a warm climate or during the warmer months, consider having guests enjoy your patio rather than your dining room. Dining outside can be as formal or as casual as you want. We love the idea of throwing an elegant dinner outdoors and by using a black and gold patio dinner party invitation, your guests will know that it’s a formal event though they’ll be dining outside.
Decorate using local plants and flowers, most could come right from your own backyard! Use fresh cuts of greenery and place them in clear vases with a little bit of water. Use these vases down the center of your dinner table for a natural and elegant centerpiece. Utilize natural fibers and crisp whites for a stunning table in the beautiful green outdoors.
Rather than doing hot dogs and burgers on the grill, elevate the menu a touch and do family-style roast beef with rich, comforting sides. You can cook indoors and bring the feast outside when it’s time to eat.
Make Your Own Pizza Party
Another casual dinner party idea is to invite your friends to a DIY pizza party. Have pizza crusts made, whether they’re homemade or store bought, and a pizza topping station loaded up with all the toppings imaginable. Go classic with pepperoni and shredded mozzarella, or offer up some more unique toppings like goat cheese, arugula, and strawberries. The possibilities are endless.
Give each guest a chef’s hat and let them experiment with lots of flavor ideas. Have them create their signature pizza, write down all the ingredients, and vote on who had the best topping combination at the end of the night.
Decorate your table like a classic pizza parlor. Have a red and white checkered tablecloth along with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes available, just like at the restaurant. Offer up casual plates and you can even get away with using paper napkins for this style of party.
Bite-Size Dinner Party
Rather than cooking up one large meal, create a handful of bite-sized dishes to serve to your guests. This allows everyone to try lots of little things rather than worry about whether friends will like the single main course. This way your foods can range from rich and decadent, to fresh and vegan-friendly, fitting all of your guests’ dietary needs or preferences.
Utilize mini chalkboards to display what each dish is so your guests know what they’ll be sampling. Use cake stands or other tiered serving trays and use the food as your decor. Set up a stocked buffet with plates and platters of your mini-bites. Keep things going with the chalkboard decor by creating chalkboard seating tags for your guests around the table. Have your guests serve themselves from the buffet and then sit for a great meal and conversation at the dinner table.
Along with the chalkboard menu decor, a chalkboard dinner party invitation fits the theme well. It gives a casual feel with the dinner party theme front and center. Let your guests know when they RSVP that you’ll be serving lots of bite-size dishes to share and make sure you have some guest favorites on your menu.
A Book or Movie Themed Dinner
Is there a book or movie that your group of friends all love? Use that as the theme for your dinner! One popular book that has been turned into a film or mini-series several times is Murder On The Orient Express.
Set in the 1930s on a first-class train car, this book’s theme creates the perfect chance to throw a murder mystery dinner. Use a fancy black dinner invitation to have guests come dressed up in 1930s vintage attire. For decor, use an art deco style for the theme and focus on elegant and luxe-style decor with lots of deep colors like black and wine red with gold accents.
Dinner on the Orient Express would have been an elegant affair. Serve champagne in coupe glasses, use cloth napkins, and serve dishes reminiscent of the 1930s. Deviled eggs, a navy bean soup, bacon-wrapped appetizers, and a classic meatloaf are all acceptable ideas.
Some other great options for book-themed parties are Casino Royale, Harry Potter, The Great Gatsby, or Game of Thrones.
Treat Your Guests With Any of These Dinner Party Ideas
These unforgettable dinner party themes and ideas are sure to keep your guests entertained. No matter which theme you choose, ensure that your guests are informed of the theme using the dinner invitation and that you relay any specific information, like dinner attire or potluck requests, as soon as possible.
Focus on your menu, invitations, and party decor to create the perfect themed dinner party for a fun night in with friends.
Photo Credits: Filipp Romanovski, Klara Kulikova, Kier… in Sight, Becca Tapert, Libby Penner, Dave Lastovskiy on Unsplash