Updated on: Apr 10, 2023
85 Classic Dinner Party Ideas - Great Tips to Liven Up the Mood!
A classic theme dinner party could be a lot of fun, especially when you set the scene for a historical time period. There are many options to choose from, but here is a list of dinner party ideas for memorable dinner-theme parties to get you started. Having a great party doesn't mean you have to break the bank either, so it's important to plan out a budget that fits your needs. Along with a budget, you need to determine a checklist of supplies needed to throw an awesome party.
Dinner Party Ideas: Themes
1. Moroccan Dinner Party
Moroccan materials tend to be very colorful. The mantels, decor, flowers, and table settings are all important. The color scheme includes blue, ruby red, yellow, green, and purple. Bedouin-style tents are very common decor ideas as well. A Bedouin tent is typically an open tent with a sheet held up by wooden stakes and decorated on the inside with seating placements, food, and decorations. A Moroccan party is full of cultural cuisine.
An example for a full course meal includes Harira soup (tomato and red lentil soup), Moroccan salad with cilantro orange dressing, Lamb Kefta brochettes, Chicken tagine with apricots, chickpeas and almonds, Classic chicken Bastilla (Moroccan style chicken pie), Vegetable tagine, Lamb and date tagine, Ghoriba (cookies), Sliced oranges with cinnamon, sugar and orange flower water. The best part of this party is making the food and trying new foods. This can therefore be a perfect anniversary dinner party idea that can help you and your partner to become closer by collaborating with each other.
2. Mad Tea Party
For this tea party, decorate with bright colors and use mismatched tableware to give the feeling of madness. Ask your guests to dress up as their favorite Wonderland characters like the Mad Hatter, the Dormouse, the March Hare, and Alice. Serve plenty of different kinds of teas with cream, sugar, and pastries like scones and finger sandwiches.
To add to this theme go the extra mile and try to get furniture that matched Alice in Wonderland. The wooden chairs and chipped teacups. Make a game of it and give your guests a character to dress up and act out a scenario as the party goes on. Try not to break character! If they do they’re out of the game. Once they’re out of the game they are no longer in “wonderland” and can continue to be themselves. It’s a cute fun way to tap into your inner child and can be one of the best birthday dinner party ideas that you can easily host.
3. A Roman Feast
Recreate the life of excess with Roman emperors. The emperor Heliogabalus was particularly famous for his excessive dinner parties. Decorate with fake pillars and graphics of Roman landmarks, like the Colosseum. Arrange lounging couches for your guests to sit on and remove modern chairs and tables.
Have your guests arrive in their best Roman togas. Finally, research Roman-style party meal ideas to serve to your guests. These usually consist of several courses with plenty of wine. Don’t forget the real proof of excess: hide pieces of fake gold or pearls in peas or rice dishes. Make sure to warn your guests before they begin eating. This is one of the best dinner party theme ideas that are exciting and stimulating.
4. Wine and Cheese Party
This is a great idea to celebrate with family and friends. Grab the best wines and cheeses you can find for your guests’ enjoyment. Devouring cheese, wine, bread, dried fruits, and jam together can make for an enjoyable time. Lots of people indulge in great wine and cheese! For the entrees, it is very important to maintain a creative perspective. Chocolate pairs well as a little dessert on the side.
If you’re looking to eat a full meal, you should eat a little of something more filling before the event. This will also help in the time you have too much of a great time with the wine! A wine and cheese party gives a mature atmosphere while also having fun you and your guests would appreciate. It is easy for guests to bring their own wine and sides so it can be one of the easy and cheap dinner party ideas. Have the guests wear some fancy clothes to set up the mood! Dinner theme ideas can seem very difficult to choose but they can be something that is very simple.
5. Animal House
Recreate the classic food fight scene from the famous movie “Animal House.” Serve 60s era party foods. This may sound odd but the food was different from what it is now. The food menu ideas in the 60s included gelatin molds, fondue, Swedish meatballs, casseroles, pineapple upside cake, baked Alaska cakes, meatloaves, and TV dinners.
Use the meals that make the best food fight weapons, and host your own controlled food fight. Make sure to cover your furniture with sheets, move out anything that is valuable or could break, and make a mess. You don’t want to wreck your things in the process! This can be one of your kid's fun dinner party ideas as well!
6. Atlantic City Parties
Atlantic City was known for parties thrown specifically for mob distraction purposes. During the 20th century, mobsters would throw expensive and impressive parties to hide their criminal activity. It sounds dangerous but these parties included the best of the best in high social status. There were actors, well-known artists, singers, and celebrities known for their money. There’s bound to be expensive dresses and tasteful style. Don’t be shy about rolling out the red carpet; these parties were meant to be excessive.
7. Sushi Dinner Party
Making sushi is one of the most popular, extravagant, and creative ideas for a dinner event. To get to know what kind of sushi your guests like, you could create a potluck so guests can bring their own favorite ingredients. It is very fun and creative to make your own sushi and there are so many tutorials online. It is also a fun idea to roll sushi together. This can be a group activity while mingling and interacting with guests. Be sure to organize the ingredients beforehand for easier setup.
Keep in mind sushi does involve raw fish so check with guests for allergies! If raw fish isn’t to your liking you can always take up other recipes with teriyaki chicken and other cooked ingredients like tempura shrimp and grilled or steamed fish. Stay safe and have plenty of gloves when handling raw seafood! You don’t want anyone at your party to go home sick.
8. Backyard Bohemian
The secret to a casual bohemian theme dinner is decorating with a lot of colorful flowers, funky or vintage decor, and some layering textiles. Place the decorations all around the house and it will be perfect! For this type of theme, you can spread out a large rug or multiple small rugs on the grass or patio and set up a low table. This means that you can put some blankets, floor cushions, and throw rugs all-around along with some colorful flower arrangements on the table.
A good appetizer to start with is a fruit and cheese board with a variety of choices. If you don’t want to spend most of the party prepping party foods, consider some dishes that you can make ahead of time or can be served at room temperatures, such as salmon fillets or orzo pasta salad.
If you are not a great chef, no worries! If you need some simple party menu ideas, soup is one of the easiest dishes to make. You can even make it a potluck and invite everyone to bring their favorite soup to share! A soup buffet is a great idea for a dinner party during the cooler months. Everyone can try a little of everything and pair them with different sides such as bread or salad. Fun ideas for dinner party can be complicated but you can always do something simple and be lots of fun!
10. Breakfast for Dinner
Turn this dinner party into a pajama party where everyone can sit around the table in their Pjs! Serve up some waffles or pancakes and everyone can bring their favorite syrups and toppings to share. Top it off with some great breakfast drink pairings like orange juice mimosas. This can be one of the small dinner party ideas that you and your close-knit friends can do!
11. DIY Pizza Party
Who doesn't love a good pizza party? Pizza is so easy to make and it's a great activity to do with friends! You can prepare the dough and sauce beforehand, and all your guests can bring their favorite toppings. Set out the dough, sauce, and toppings buffet-style and then everyone can make their pizzas and pop them in the oven. Pair it with a nice bottle of wine and a dessert and everyone will leave full and happy.
To get into the spirit, you can give your guests cooking aprons that you can buy at an inexpensive price online. Not only will you and your guests get into the spirit of the party but everyone also won’t have to worry about getting sauce on your clothes.
12. Murder Mystery
If you like a good mystery why not hold a whodunnit dinner? You can get creative with your party food themes and dinner menu too. For a murder mystery, you can buy a game online or you can use your own creativity. When you pick a theme, keep in mind the interests of the guests that will be coming. All you need is an introductory story, bio cards for your guests, description cards for evidence the characters will discover throughout the story, and the solution which will be read at the end of the game. For the story, you can use a prepared script or you can do free-play. You can even customize your dinner party invitations to have your guests' assigned characters so they can dress the part!
In a scripted play, your guests will be reading lines prepared in a script. The guests have written actions and dialogue. This makes for a more fast-paced game and the guests won't miss out on any element of the game. Free-play has more improvisation, there isn't a set script for the guests. The guests may have a general outline of how their character speaks and acts but ultimately your guests have free reign of their actions and creative involvement with their character. Who knows? It can be one of the best nights in your life!
13. Casino Night
Your guests won’t be bored with a casino night dinner party. You can play games your guests are comfortable with or you can play the classics such as poker and blackjack. Go all out with casino decor and party meals to match, such as shrimp cocktails and steak. Then for dessert serve up some playing card cookies and cupcakes. Put together a mini bar to let everyone grab a drink as the night goes on and the stakes get high.
14. Taco Fiesta
Who doesn’t love Taco Tuesday? For this theme, you can set up a taco bar so people can serve themselves. Set it up so whether your guests want a soft taco, hard taco, or a taco salad they have all they need. Ask guests to bring a side dish that everyone can enjoy such as chips and salsa or rice and beans. Easy-themed dinner party menus are the best!
For decorations, you can set the table with colorful ceramic bowls and plates. You can also make some punch for people to drink. Make sure you provide all the usual toppings such as salsa, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and queso. Set the mood with some mariachi music playing in the background. This can be one of many easy dinner party ideas that you can host in under 24 hours!
15. Beach Party
Need a cool summer dinner party idea? Who doesn’t love a Beach Party? Play some old-school beach music, serve treats on seashell-shaped platters, and put out a spread of good seafood. Make some umbrella cocktails and have everyone wear their beach clothes. This theme is great for getting creative.
16. French Picnic
Do you like picnics? Why not try this French picnic theme? Lay a blanket and some pillows down to relax on in the living room and pack a basket with some french cuisine. You can take the party outside if the weather is good.
You can also ask your guests to bring a side or dessert. For example, someone can bring a cheese board, another could bring some baguettes, and another person can bring something sweet like macaroons or eclairs.
These were the theme dinner ideas that you can try even from tomorrow!
Dinner Party Ideas: Set Up
Here are some lifesaver Dinner Party Decorations for your next dinner party. Dinner parties can be a fun and engaging way to bring people together. It is not always easy to plan. There are some important things to keep in mind while putting together your party. The way your table is set for a dinner party depends on the formality of your event. If you are throwing a casual event, the placement of silverware and glasses may not be important to you.
If you want to throw an elegant dinner party, then there are specific rules that you should follow. General rules for silverware and plates say that they should be one inch from the edge of the table and that you start from the outside and work your way in. Dinner party decor can really set the atmosphere so you should really be careful. Here are some rules on etiquette and ideas for setting your table.
Placemats should be centered on each person’s space. They should also be placed up against the edge of the table.
Chargers go to the center of each placemat.
19. Dinner Plates
The dinner plates go on top of the charger.
20. Salad Plate
The salad plate goes on top of the dinner plate.
The napkin goes in the center of the top plate (if there is no food on the plates). If you are setting the table with the first course already at each place setting, fold the napkin flat into a rectangle and place it to the left of the forks on the table.
Forks go to the left of the plate with the salad fork on the outside.
Knives go to the right of the plate.
Spoons go to the right of the plate with soup spoons to the left of regular spoons.
25. Water glass
Water glass goes over the knife
26. Wine glasses
The wine glasses go to the right of the water glass angled down toward the spoons. If you are serving both red and white wine, they each have a separate glass with the red wine glass being next to the water glass and then the white glass next to the red wine glass.
27. Dessert Silverware
According to proper etiquette, once the table is cleared of dinner, then the dessert silverware may be placed on the table. The dessert fork will go on the table on top of the plates with the prongs facing to the right. The dessert spoon will go ahead of the fork with the spoon facing to the left.
28. Coffee Cups and Saucer
Whether you’re leaving the coffee cup and saucer out for the entire meal or just bringing it to the table during the dessert course, it’s placed to the right of the spoons.
29. Bread and butter course
For a bread and butter course, the plate is placed on the left side of the plate above the forks. The knife is placed on the bread and butter plate with the blade pointing approximately at 11 o’clock.
30. Place cards
Place cards should be placed at the head of the place setting.
31. Napkin Fold
Research some fun napkin folds for instant décor. Or teach your guests how to fold their napkins into funny shapes!
32. Napkin Rings
Use napkins that you already have and spruce them up with colorful napkin rings instead. This will completely transform your table setting without having to spend a lot of money. This is one of the best dinner party decor ideas to make your dinner fancy without the need to go over your budget.
Make sure you have some type of centerpiece on the table. For a spring dinner party, stick Manzanita branches in a vase with flower petals and crystals hanging from them.
If you don’t have a tablecloth, check out your local fabric store and create your own.
35. Place Cards
While you may think name cards are only for elegant affairs; they are great to make your guests feel less tension about where they should or shouldn’t sit. Use something creative as a place card, such as a paper snowflake for a Winter Wonderland theme.
36. Signature Cocktail
Plan to serve a signature cocktail that goes along with your theme. If you’re hosting a carnival-themed party, make cotton candy martinis and place them around the room. Not only are they theme décor, but they also taste great!
37. Punch Bowl
Along the same lines as a signature cocktail, if you have a punch bowl filled with a color theme to match your party, you are adding to the room’s overall décor.
38. Ambient Lighting
Think about lighting as décor. Don’t just use the light that you have in your dining room, use a dimmer switch, candles, colored light bulbs, or specialty lamps to create a different ambiance.
Place items down the table as if they were a table runner. If you are throwing a beach-themed dinner party, scatter seashells and starfish down the table. For a Mardi Gras theme, place beads down the center of the table.
40. Menu Cards
Give your guests a preview of what’s to come by providing little menu cards. It’s classy and adds a fun little twist to your dinner party.
Dinner Party Ideas: Favors
If you are planning to have friends over for a dinner party, you may be searching for a fun gift you can send home with them. This gift can be an expression of your thankfulness to them for coming over. If you aren’t sure what you should give them, don’t worry!
Since your guests are coming over to eat, why not stick with that theme? Some of the best dinner party supplies and favor ideas are edible.
41. Petit Fours
Miniature cakes are an excellent dessert, and they are small enough to be travel-friendly! They are also tasty enough to be adored by all of your guests.
42. Bag of Ingredients
Give your guests the gift of one of the courses you served at your party. To do this, you can put together a bag of all of the ingredients required and attach the recipe.
43. Infused Sugar
Flavored sugar is a delicious gourmet party favor idea, and you can find the supplies to make it at your local grocery store. Fill a large jar with sugar and your desired flavoring. Some common flavoring choices are lemon slices, lavender, vanilla beans, or coffee beans. Give the sugar a few days to absorb the flavors, and then divide it into cute jars for your guests.
44. Cupcake in a Jar
This cute edible dinner party favor is a delicious treat that is already packaged for on-the-go consumption. It doesn’t take many supplies, just a few jars, and a cake! Cut the cake into jar-appropriate pieces and fill the jar as much as you can. Don’t forget to add frosting between the layers.
Not sure what to do with all of your leftovers? You can turn them into favors! Simply wrap them up in attractive to-go containers, or aluminum foil sculptures (if you’re feeling creative), and hand them out to your departing guests.
46. Ice Cream
Attach an ice cream scoop to a pint of ice cream for a delicious and practical dinner party favor. Be sure to hand these outright as they leave; melted ice cream is not a gift anyone would love.
47. Homemade Bread
There are many different types of delicious bread you could treat your guests to, from pumpkin to banana to white to whole wheat. Choose your favorite, bake several small loaves, bake multiple, and allow your guests to choose their favorite.
48. Sugar Cookies
Use cookie cutters in the appropriate shapes to match your dinner party theme, or the season, to create adorable sugar cookie favors.
49. Jam-Packed Jars
If it goes along with your dinner party theme, you can make some fresh jam for your guests to take home. A great idea is to prepare several different types so everyone can choose their favorite! Some common jam flavors include raspberry, strawberry, or blueberry. Scoop the jam into small glass jars and cover the top with a circular piece of fabric and a ribbon. Place the metal lid on top of the fabric, and voila! Sweet and simple.
50. Sweet Favors
Another tasty option is to bake some delicious sweets, such as tarts, pies, cookies, nuts, or cakes. Be sure to place them in cute little containers that your guests can take home. You can decorate the containers with tissue paper, ribbons, or even some paint. Your guests will love that you put these together yourself!
51. Box of Breakfast
Send your guests home with not only a full stomach from dinner but a breakfast to look forward to as well! You could purchase or bake breakfast items such as scones, muffins, croissants, or bagels. Don’t forget the condiments like small containers of cream cheese or packaged pats of butter. Place all of these items in a take-out container, and they are ready to go. Don’t forget to add tea bags or packets of instant coffee! It’s not a full breakfast without something to drink.
52. Cup of Coffee
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of preparing more party foods for your guests, another great option is to put bags of coffee beans in coffee mugs to hand out to your guests. There are so many fun, unique, and gourmet flavored beans to pick from. You can also be as creative as you want with the mugs. You could send everyone home with matching mugs, or give everyone a different mug.
53. Homemade Drink Mixers
Prepare small bottles with the main ingredients that you used to make drinks with for the party. Send these bottles home with your guests, so they can enjoy them at home too. Be sure to attach a personal note to each bottle with the exact recipe you used. Don’t be afraid to personalize the bottles with some stickers or ribbon!
54. Winter Wonderland
If you are hosting your party during the wintertime, give your guests little packages of warm spices. Give out spices for mulling cider or even wine. If your guest isn’t a fan of spices, hot chocolate is also a wonderful choice.
55. Summer Refreshment
If your dinner party is in the spring or summer, send your guests home with a packet of lemonade or iced tea mix. They will appreciate having it on the next hot day!
56. Personalized Mixes
This gift will work best if you know your guests well. If you do know them, you can put together some of your favorite songs and create a personalized Spotify or Napster playlist for each guest. Be sure to choose songs that pertain to the particular theme you have chosen for your party. If you’re hosting a romantic dinner party, pick love songs that will set just the right mood. Additionally, since you know your guests, be sure to include their favorite artists, and leave out any genres they don’t enjoy.
57. Kitchen Necessities
A dinner party is only possible because a kitchen is involved, so send your guests home with some kitchen staples. Mini gourmet bottles of olive oil and vinegar are slightly classier options. You can also hand out dry ingredients like bags of gourmet, flavored sugar.
58. Trinket Trays
These little trays are perfect to add some décor to your countertop or dresser and to keep everything organized. You can find trinket trays that go with the theme of your party, or decorate them yourself. You can even personalize one for each guest by picking out the tray that best fits their style.
59. Pint-Sized Plants
You can use small potted plants as favors and as decorations for your party. If it fits your theme, you can place the plants as centerpieces, and then allow the guests to grab their favorite before they leave. Cacti and succulents are great options because they do not require much care or maintenance. Your guests may be more willing to take them because they won’t have to worry about keeping them alive. Another option is a bouquet of flowers. Their colors will liven up any room, but if you choose this option, be sure to avoid flowers that your guests may be allergic to.
If you and your guests love to read, hand-select a book for each of your guests! If your dinner party is a small, intimate gathering, try to find a book that goes with their taste or hobbies. For larger parties, find books that everyone would enjoy such as a gourmet cookbook.
61. A Crystal Paper Weight
A beautiful paperweight is an affordable option and a useful dinner party favor idea. Try to choose a design and material that reflects the theme of your party, or simply choose one that you love.
62. Wine Glasses
A set of wine glasses makes a lovely party favor. You can even have the glasses personalized if you so choose. If giving each guest a set of wine glasses is outside of your price range, consider giving them a set of festive wine charms instead.
63. Bottle Accessories
If you know your guests will make use of these, bottle accessories can be a great party favor. These can include decorative bottle openers, useful bottle stoppers, and bottle cozies. They are sure to spice up the next time your guests pour a drink.
Candles make beautiful party favors, and there are many different scents to choose from. You can help your guests relax with lavender aromatherapy candles, or help cheer them up on a bad day with citrus candles. There are so many options, it may be hard to choose just one, so why not purchase a variety and give your guests the choice?
A teapot is a practical, as well as a decorative favor. Teapots come in many different designs. You can either choose different designs to match each of your guests’ tastes or simply purchase some that match the dinner party theme
66. Coffee Mug
Your guests are sure to appreciate a coffee mug party favor. You can choose from many attractively designed mugs and wrap them up in tissue paper or a pretty gift bag. As in the previous list, you can also fill them with coffee beans or packets of instant coffee so that your guests are all set for their next cup. However, if you would rather, you could fill it with candies or nothing at all.
67. Picture Frames
Inexpensive picture frames can be dressed up with glitter, buttons, paint, fabric, feathers, flowers, or anything you have on hand. They’re also a practical gift that your guests will love. If you would like to send the guests home with photos, consider taking Polaroids at your dinner party. That way, you can slip the pictures into the frames before handing them out.
Dinner Party Ideas: Supplies & Storage
Beyond your décor and party meals, there are necessary things for dinner parties, especially during these difficult times. This checklist will prepare you and help you decide which supplies you need for your party.
As restrictions go down, it will still be essential to have safety precautions in place. If you are going to have a dinner where people will be in close proximity to each other, you should have masks for your guests to wear to keep everyone safe.
You don’t want to run out of ice. Make sure your drinks stay cold by stocking up on plenty.
Condiments, in general, are always good to have on hand. Check to see if you have ketchup, mustard, and anything else that your guests might need.
You don’t want to offer coffee without cream to go with it—stock up on a few different kinds, including low-fat and non-dairy.
72. Salt and Pepper
These are must-haves on the dinner table. Make sure the saltshaker and the pepper grinder on your table are full.
Sugar is essential for any dinner party, especially if you plan to serve coffee or tea. Be prepared with packets of sugar and sugar substitutes, like stevia.
74. Beverage Cooler
On your preparation supplies checklist, you will need a place to keep your beverages cold. If your fridge is too full with your other dinner party edibles, set up a large, ice-filled cooler in another room.
75. Coat Closet
Your guests will need a place to store their jackets and handbags. This can be a separate room, or you can fill a hall closet with several empty hangers.
76. Paper Towels
Paper towels are crucial for dinner parties. So make sure you have them on your list. They are the best option for a quick cleanup.
77. Cleaning Solutions
Where there are people and food, there are generally messes. Being prepared with sprays and disinfectants will help keep your house sparkling and clean.
78. Trash Bags
You don’t want to ever run out of room for trash. Make sure you have plenty of garbage bags at the ready.
Sometimes, a mess needs more than a paper towel to clean. Be ready for any mess by stocking up on kitchen sponges.
Dinner Party Ideas: Games
Looking for a way to crank up the fun and entertainment at your dinner party? Exciting action or word games for adults are a quick fix. Dinner party games for adults are usually hard to find so here is a list of items and activities, so that you won’t forget a thing to make your party the most fun.
80. Couples Trivia
This game idea is similar to the Adult Newlywed Game, and it is best if you have only couples attending your dinner party. Ask questions of one partner: “What time was your first date?” or “Who did your partner take to prom?”
81. Squeeze It In
Before the party writes down some ridiculous sentences and ideas that barely make sense and put them into a hat. At the party, ask your guests to take a piece of paper and then work that sentence into the conversation without the other guests guessing that that is your sentence. An example of a sentence is, “I’ve always wanted to ride a tiger.”
82. Similar Thinking
This word dinner party game has you break your group up into two groups. The moderator says a category, and each person must write down the first three things that come to mind when hearing that category. If three people have a word in common, the team receives one point. For four or more people getting a word the same, that team gets two.
83. Lyrical Master
Break your guests up into two groups. Call out one word and have the group name as many songs as they can that contain that word.
84. Famous People
Each guest will name a famous person on their head and ask the other guests questions to figure out who they are. The last person to figure out who they are must take a drink.
85. Who said it?
This game takes a little bit of planning before you play it, but it will be worth it. If you are hosting the dinner, take some time before it starts to go through your guests' social media pages to find embarrassing posts they had made years ago. Screenshot the posts and print them off, but make sure not to include who made the post. Then make all the guests guess who wrote the which post. It can get pretty funny the farther back you go.
Did this list of classic dinner party ideas help you come up with a fabulous idea for your next party? Let us know! Comment on our blog and feel free to provide us with suggestions on how we can make your party-planning process even easier!
Written by Jessica Bundy; Contributors: Stephanie Roy, Rina Okagaki and Vanessa Marsocci