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Jun 9, 2003 10:46 AM

Dinner party theme ideas?

  • z

We're having a 12 guest gourmet club dinner party next month where everyone is responsible for bringing a dish connected to theme. I loved the Zodiac idea from an earlier thread - any other suggestions?

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  1. We belong to an 8 person Supper Club which functions in a similar fashion. Some of the meals we've had: Tapas Meal centered around a goat haunch the hosts had acquired; various ethnic evenings; a meal where every dish's main ingredient came from the Farmers' Market - in January!!; a meal where every dish had to contain lemon; a vegetarian meal (none of us is one so it was new territory for us); and a meal where every course had to contain something green.

    We certainly have a good time - must be all the wine!!!!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Karolyn

      We have good luck with a "star" ingredient, usually something trendoid, like Meyer Lemons, preserved lemons, purple rice, etc., or a color. The best ingredient meal we had was pork. We had a "red" meal that was fabulous-- raddichio, apples, prosciutto, beets, radishes, cherries, wehani rice, red wine risotto, etc.

      Also, as seasonal bounty begins, have a zucchini dinner, a swiss chard dinner, basil, etc. I've got a great chocolate zucchini cake recipe-- if you want it, just email me.

      1. re: Erika

        We had a "variations on a theme" party where everyone was required to bring a lasagne that was not made with the regular red sauce and meat. (We also filled the day playing tennis and worked off the carbs).

        We had ham and cheese lasagne, prima vera lasagne, Mexican lasagne, vegetable lasagne, crab and lobster lasagne, apples and ricotta lasagne, and even a chocolate lasagne. I can't remember all we had, but they certainly took time to do it right! Oh, yeah, one man brought regular lasagne that was very good indeed.

        Variations on a theme are fun.

      2. re: Karolyn

        A few girlfriends and I have had similar dinner parties- we actually had one where the "star ingredient" was the grape- talk about wine! It was a lovely night though with some delicious grape-y dishes....

      3. s

        I belong to a bookclub. About once a year we read a book with recipes and everyone brings a dish from the book.

        A couple of the books we used were
        "Tender at the Bone" by Ruth Reichl and

        "The Amazing Afterlive of Zimerman Fees" by Kimmie Rhodes. There is a very short story between the recipes. Also, some tidbits about wine. Fun! Fun! Fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: southerngirl

          Along with the book theme, what about a Twilight themed party?

          I am not sure if you and your friends are fans of the books, but it was a huge crowd pleaser for me!

        2. Some parties I have done in the past all involve specific eras and cultures:

          ~ A 70's style cocktail party (remember those dough-wrapped weenies? - Scary!)
          ~ A Chinese Dim Sum party
          ~ A Cole Porter Party (different courses from each decade in which he wrote famous songs - for example, 'Anything Goes' was written in 1935, when Cole Porter himself was frequenting the Brown Derby where the Cobb Salad was invented)
          ~ A Fairy Tale party (Three Pigs = pork dishes; Cinderella = pumpkin dishes like a pumpkin soup in a "carriage")

          and my personal favorite which could work really well depending on when, next month, your party is scheduled:

          ~ A French, a Bastile Day party! Think about -- all that French food, wine, and fun!

          1. I have this list of party themes below from the time I compiled for informal dinner parties for a church group that was going to have multiple dinner parties in LA on the same eve.

            Anyway, I don't know if any of these would be appropriate, but since I had the list I thought I'd share...

            Party Themes:

            Hawaiian Luau:  People wear their Hawaiian shirts and sandals.  Light some tiki-torches and serve ham and pineapple.  see www.luaupartysupplies. for more luau ideas

            Mexican Fiesta:  Decorate in loud colors and have people make their own tortillas.  See for help.

            Salad Bar:  Have people bring their faves and go healthy.

            Comfort Foods (aka "white trash"):  Potato Salad, Pigs in a Blanket, Frito Pie, for fun ideas go to

            Sports:  People wear their team's hat or jersey.  Serve hot dogs, peanuts, nachos and popcorn.

            Movie Theme:  Pick a movie or TV show and use that as theme:

              --Sopranos:  People wear their leather jackets and serve pasta.

            Breakfast Food:  Would you like sausage or bacon?  Make fresh belgian waffles.

            Stuffed Baked Potato:  Have people bring toppings to share and get creative with a real Mr. Potato

            Color Theme:  Pick a color and have people dress in the color and have foods of that color.  If you have orange I guarantee Muriel will show! 

            70's Theme:  Dress to nauseate.  Serve tuna casserole or combine with Comfort Food theme above or Fondue Theme below.

            Hippie Theme:  Assign each of your guests a 'hippie name' like Rainbow, Fawn the Flower Child, Star, Moon, Dharma etc. For food combine with salad bar or something "earthy."  Sitting on the floor is a must and the more candles the better.  Hold the pot though.

            Fondue:  Dip the eve away and then have chocolate fondue for dessert!  Can also be  combined with 70's theme.

            Japanese/Sushi:  Have people roll their own California Rolls.  Go to for help. 

            Cajun:  Play jazz, R&B, cajun zydeco and blues and serve Jambalaya and Gumbo go to for help.

            Holloween/Costume:  have guests come dressed in their favorite costume.  Make Jack-o-lanterns and eat miniature candies.

            Backwards Theme:  Start with dessert, then main course and then appetizers.

            Regression Theme:  Play pin the tail on the donkey, twister or monopoly and eat your favorite junk foods from childhood, corn dogs, fish sticks.  Serve Twinkies and ding-dongs for dessert.

            Texas BBQ: 

            Gourmet Pizza:  People bring their own toppings, have fun making and tossing pizza dough. 

            1. Great discussion! I love my supper club! A couple of others themes we have done or considered

              brunch & bloody mary bar - brunch recipes and everyone contributes some of their favorite bloody mary ingredients

              sliders, skewers & salads - good summer patio theme

              states - dishes that specific states are famous for, we did this during election season

              numbers - tres leches cake, pork with chinese 5-spice marinade, 7 layer dip. the trip to the liquor store for this theme is really fun

              food inspired by music - string cheese stuffed meatloaf, phish ceviche, hersey's kiss cake, red hot chili pepper quesidillas, 30,000 pounds of bananas foster. this one was lots of fun and of course had a commemorative cd for everyone

              cooking with booze - actually as an ingredient

              back to school - redo a school lunch dish into something tasty