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Themed dinner party ideas

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My aunt needs to cook for a gourmet cooking club, eight couples I think, and needs ideas on a theme. I posted earlier about ideas for a French dinner party, but am now thinking a French theme may be to ambitious for her. She is a good cook, but not very advanced. She asked me for ideas as I love to cook, but I am at a loss since I rarely put together a multi course meal to impress a large group. Any help on theme and course ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. there are tons of threads about themed dinners, potlucks & supper clubs, so i pulled together a bunch of them for you. hopefully you'll find some good inspiration or ideas:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/378926
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/357666
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/720911
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/293102
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/341235
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/759934
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/440916
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/378547
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/512908
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/766530
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/566995
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784365
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/587623
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/284666
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/277651
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/580506
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/578233

    there are also a lot of threads about using one color as a theme - i didn't post those links, but you can search for them if you want to.

    are there any dishes/recipes she does particularly well or really enjoys making? you might want to work backwards - start with one of those and build a theme *around* it...could be the most comfortable approach for her.

    1. If it doesn't have to be a cultural theme, perhaps a period theme would work. The Victorian times of the 19th century are well remembered (at least in books) for fabulous feasts, especially during the Christmas holiday period. During the Colonial period of the 18th century, meals were served that included wonderfully flavorful stews, prepared with pork and vegetables like cabbage and pork was a popular protein; at least for the common folk. Those people also enjoyed meat pies, meat puddings and side dishes included fritters. Spiced gingerbread or a smooth custard for dessert?
      Just do a Google search by period and you'll get lots of idea for themes based on various periods in history.

      1. I'm not sure what is in all of those links....but I did a really fun seafood dinner party several years ago. I did the table with lots of fun "beach items" and used plastic sand buckets for
        the shells. You can play with candles and rocks in glass bowls. Pier 1 has lots of stuff. I live in L.A., so I went to the drug store in Malibu. People got CDs as little gifts....with summertime songs on them. I think I started with shrimp cocktail, then did crab. There may have been mussels in there, too. A lot of fun!

        1. I recently did a long Tuscan lunch. See below post
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/787055

          It was fantastic and a great combination of dishes that went with wine too