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Dinner parties are a great way to bond with family and friends. After everything that happened last year, we think everyone needs a chill, low-stakes way to reconnect with all the people we’ve been missing.
Plan a dinner party now, have your friends help with the party planning, and choose a date that’s safely in the future.
Whether you decide to go with a traditional idea or something a little zanier, we’ve got a list of themed dinner party ideas to help you get started
The OG Dinner Party
A traditional dinner party typically includes an extended, multi-course dinner with family, friends, or maybe even coworkers.
There’s usually wine, soft music, conversation, and an elaborate dessert. If you want to make it an especially luxe experience for your guests, consider hiring a professional cook or caterer to prepare and serve the food.
Tip: Some caterers give the option of renting dishes, glasses, and tableware for the occasion. Plus, if decide to go this route, you won’t have any dishes to wash up after! Who doesn’t love getting to skip after-dinner dishes?
Breakfast for Dinner Party
We’re immediately pivoting from the OG dinner party to something completely different! Invite your guests to wear their PJs over to your house and have them bring their favorite pancake/waffle toppings.
We’re thinking maple syrup with butter and bacon crumbles, but you could talk us into strawberries and whipped cream if that’s your thing. Serve with mimosas or bellinis or coffee if you think sleep is overrated.
Retro Dinner Party
This one gives you options! If you’re looking for a 1950s soda fountain aesthetic, serve some hamburgers and milkshakes and have everyone white t-shirts and blue jeans or poodle skirts and cardigans. Set the mood by playing some Connie Francis on the (virtual) jukebox!
The 1970s features some truly questionable food items (everything was in Jell-O… why was everything in Jell-O?!) with button-down shirts and bell bottoms in bold colors and patterns.
Pick a decade, spend a little time researching, and then really commit to the bit if you want to have the most fun.
Movie Night Dinner Party
See any good movies lately? Invite some friends over for dinner and a movie.
You can theme the meal to match the movie, choose some snackier options (popcorn, candy, hotdogs, soda), or get the kind of takeout that you tried to sneak into the theater back in the day.
If you want something more high class, set up some things like an awards screening with a red carpet and photo booth (formalwear required of course) and watch the movie followed by a swanky dinner and discussion of the film you just watched.
Game Night Dinner Party
Give your boardgames a workout, improve your improv skills, or level up your usual D&D sesh. Adding dinner to your games works best when the food is handheld/bite-sized and can be set down in between turns without difficulty.
Also, avoid things that have grease or sauces or could easily spill and make a mess. Say yes to classic game night faves like pizza, sub sandwiches, or wraps. Say no to pasta, nachos, or french fries.
Plan your party around one game or choose several that your friends might like. If you’re planning a long night, you could alternate between board games and games that involve standing and moving around (like Charades or Twister).
Tip: If you don’t know what games your friends like the best, or if you don’t have a lot of games of your own, make your friends do the work! Ask one or more of them to bring their favorite game that they own. You might find a new favorite too!
Plus, this dinner party theme seems like the perfect excuse to eat some ice cream. Who doesn’t want an excuse to eat ice cream?
Murder Mystery Dinner Party
This is probably the most ambitious dinner party idea on the list, but it also has the potential to be the most fun!
Write up character cards (one per guest) and hand them out to people as they arrive. Or, the cards can be provided in advance if people want to dress up as their character.
You can find hundreds of characters, scenarios, and instructions for how to play a murder mystery party online.
The only big change when you add dinner to the game is that the “murder” will happen after dinner because you want to make sure everyone has a chance to eat before the game is afoot!
Recommended Read How to Host an Awesome Murder Mystery Party This Halloween
French Picnic Dinner Party
Ahh, a picnic in the French countryside… there’s nothing else like it.
Recreate the rustic charm of long walks in sunlit lavender fields in your own backyard. Just get a wicker picnic basket and fill it up with classic hearty snacks like sliced meats, pungent cheeses, crusty bread, rich butter, homemade jam, French pastries, and a bottle of sparkling wine.
Serve it at a picnic table or on a large blanket in the grass!
Tip: This type of party works surprisingly well as a potluck, especially if you ask your guests to bring certain types of food that they’re very knowledgeable in. One of your friends probably knows a lot about wine, and another might want to try baking French macarons.
Backyard BBQ Dinner Party
If French isn’t really your thing, then do it American-style! Bring on the hamburgers, hotdogs, potato and macaroni salads, deviled eggs, baked beans, cornbread, coleslaw, and watermelon!
We admit that this is less of a “dinner party” and more of a “cookout,” but please hear us out. We think that it still counts as long as you invite a “dinner party” number of guests, which is approximately the number of people who will fit around a dining room table (about 6-10).
A backyard BBQ is perfect for holidays like the 4th of July and Memorial Day.
Recommended Read 6 Reasons Why Cornhole Is the Best Outdoor Game Ever
Cornhole Dinner Party
You didn’t think you’d get all the way to the end without us talking about our favorite thing in the world, did you?
Cornhole makes for a great activity before or after dinner, but it also makes for a great dinner party theme!
Serve corn on the cob and toad in the hole. Baked raviolis look like cornhole bags, so those are on the menu too. Don’t forget to serve it all with a cold one (or two) and play a round of Cornhole to bring it all together.
Speaking of Cornhole, you can take your Backyard BBQ dinner party—or any dinner party!—to the next level by adding even more games. You can never go wrong with classics like Washer Toss, Giant 4 In-A-Row, or Tumbling Tower, available now from Cornhole Worldwide because backyard games are what we’re all about!