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    What's a Dinner Party Without a Theme?

    August 23, 2011

    Dinner parties are awesome. You get to eat delicious food, hang out with all of your friends, and usually consume copious amounts of wine. However, hosting your own party can be intimidating. What do you serve? Who sits where? And most importantly, what's your theme?

    Though of course you don’t need one, themes make everything more fun. Like an all-zucchini dinner party. Or a prohibition-era speakeasy soiree. Or your standard breakfast-for-dinner shindig (bacon is never not-appropriate for dinner).

    The key is getting everyone to play along, either by bringing a dish that fits with the theme, or dressing up to get in the spirit. Once you’ve got your theme (here are 50 ideas to help get you started), it’s time to move on to food and drinks.

    Most dinner party experts (yes, there is such a thing), will tell you to keep things simple. For example, you can arrange a potluck to decrease your own cook/prep time, encouraging guests to bring a “signature dish.” You also want to make sure that if you’re doing the cooking, you’re familiar with the recipes you are preparing upfront. Save the savory goat liver pate for another time. Finally, stick with one main dish so that you’re not running back and forth between the grill and the kitchen. It’s your party – you want to enjoy it.

    Next up: drinks. Cocktails that match your theme are great, but don’t forget standards like beer, soda and water. No one wants to be dehydrated at the end of the meal. If you’re serving wine, the most basic rule of thumb isn’t just to serve red wine with meat, white wine with fish, but to choose simple wines with complex foods and complex wines with simple foods. For a little more help, check out http://www.foodandwinepairing.org/, which lets you pick a wine or dish and will automatically recommend a complimentary pairing. You can also visit http://www.bottlenotes.com/winecyclopedia/practical-guide-dinner-party for a guide to wine courses.

    Now that the consumables are out of the way, you’ve got to think about setting the mood. Best way to do so? With the perfect party playlist. Choose music that stays in the background while you're at the table so it doesn’t distract from conversation. You can always pump up the volume when dessert is cleared. Real Simple suggests movie soundtracks and best-of compilations as good go-tos.

    Last up is décor, which will depend on your chosen theme. You can add small touches, like a toy shark and fish-shaped corn bread for a Shark Week dinner party, or you can go all out with a Mardi Gras or an 80’s party theme. Then simply send out the invitations and smile as your guests complement you on your fabulous dinner party.

    Have any other helpful dinner party ideas? Hosted any theme parties and have the pics to prove it? Let us know! You can comment below, email us here, post on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter!