1. Kentucky Derby Party – Held on the first Saturday in May, this is a wonderful opportunity to welcome spring and maybe even do a little betting. The only musts are a big screen TV to play the horse race for all to see and a good mint julep recipe. Have party guests dress in “festive derby attire”, including hats for the ladies!
2. Wine Tasting Party – This party can be as casual or as formal as you want. If your guests aren’t wine experts, pick three different white wines (pinot grigio, chardonnay, and viognier, for instance) and three different reds (like pinot noir, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon), and conduct the tastings from lightest tasting to darkest. For more educated palates, use three kinds of the same varietal–one from the US, one from Europe, and one from south of the Equator. Make sure to have rating sheets (available online) and plenty of crackers and water on hand.
3. Cheese Tasting Party – When choosing cheeses for your tasting party, get help from a trusted cheese counter and choose varied shapes and colors to really highlight the differences between the cheeses. Select some cheeses from different animals (cow, goat, sheep) and of different degrees of hardness. Be sure to have milder cheeses to counter the stronger ones. Garnish cheese boards with grapes, olives, proscuitto and nuts and have plenty of crackers available.
4. 80’s Theme Party – Relieve your youth and break out some of your best retro style. Put collars up, and search high and low for legwarmers, Madonna-esque accessories and day-glo clothing. Be sure to put together a playlist of that fantastic 80’s music and have it playing all night long. Have some classic 80’s movies (anything John Hughes is a great start) playing on the TV, and have fun with decoration – cut out shapes from neon-colored cardboard and try some lovely draped-lace…such a fad in the 80’s.
5. Hillbilly Party – Also known as a redneck party, all this party requires is a sense of humor and imagination. Have a cardboard sign with “WELCUM” greeting guests, and Jerry Springer on the TV. A clothesline with underwear on it (inside or outside) and some lovely beer-can light strings can help to set the mood. Men should dress in wife-beater shirts and tacky trucker caps, and the ladies should go for the trashiest makeup they can find. The refreshment table is where the fun can really begin…cheese curls, spray cheese, twinkies, pork rinds and 40 ouncers of Old Milwaukee can take this party from good to great!
6. Oscar Night Party – Have guests come dressed in “Jammies & Jewels,” their most comfortable loungewear with gaudy jewelry. Enclose an official ballot from Oscar.com with the invitation so the guests could vote for their picks before arriving. For decorations, line the sidewalk with red plastic tablecloths (for a red carpet) and use various movie posters or cutouts(video stores may give you some old ones). Keep track of everyone’s picks on whiteboard by the TV. During the less-exciting awards, ask trivia questions based on Oscar history or even what happened on that night’s telecast, and award prizes for those questions along with the grand prizes for the most correct picks. Gift cards to Blockbuster or Netflix are wonderful prizes.
7. Survivor Party- Print invitations on scroll type paper. Have guests draw a bandana out of a box, with different colored bandanas making up the different teams. Have teams complete ten different challenges to try for “immunity idols,” with the team with the most idols being declared the winner. Some ideas for games: (1) Blind wagon relay race. Divide your team up into pairs and one player puts on a blind fold and the other player sits on the wagon. The person in the wagon needs to direct their blindfolded person through the cones. Time how long it takes the whole team to get through the course. Lowest time wins.(3) Put a church-key bottle opener on a very long string. You have to pass the opener down through each team members clothing, so eventually you are all connected by the string. Last person has to use the opener to open a bottle of beer, first team to drink all their beer wins. (4) Mission Impossible: You have to get your whole entire team from one point to another, without any body part touching the ground. You give them all sorts of toys to help them, like a skateboard, a jump rope, an exercise mat, etc. (5)Lay an Egg: Partners stand back to back. Place an egg in between their backs and the team to successfully lay three eggs without breaking wins. (6) Gross food contest: Make the gross food disappear first. We had green jello shots, worms (cold cooked spaghetti with red food die), and kitty litter cake (vanilla pudding covered with oatmeal with green food coloring and misshapen Tootsie Rolls). (8) Suck and Blow: Pass 10 cards around the table, only allowing players to use their mouths by sucking on the card and passing it to their partners’ lips by blowing while they suck–very funny! (10)Water balloon Slingshot: Spray paint a target on a field and have players shoot water balloons at the target with a giant slingshot. The team that scores the most points win.
8. Margaritaville Party – Jimmy Buffett is the obvious musical selection. Festive island attire is a no-brainer. Don’t forget the tiki torches, tropical drinks and grilled cuisine.
9. Around the World in Six Hours Dinner Party – This is a fantastic theme for a dinner party for couples. Choose different countries, one for each couple invited, and have the guests bring a food & drink item of their choice to share from the countries they are assigned. Some examples would be sushi & sake for Japan, gyros or kebabs & ouzo from Greece, or paella & sangria from Spain. If you are worried about anyone’s ability to stretch themselves or get creative, you could always assign them the good ol’ US of A (hamburgers & beer!) or even Italy, as most people are comfortable with pasta & wine! Every hour, switch countries and enjoy a new type of cuisine. Decorate with flags from each country, or posters from the consulates. For a fun take-home, assemble passports for each guest and either stamp them or use stickers.
10. South of France Party – Take a cue from Provence and have a foodie-friendly extravaganza at the height of the summer farmer’s market bounty. Put a lot of extra attention into the food and label each item with its French name, followed by the English translation. Offer French wines and decorate with tons of candles and sunflowers. Consider preparing authentic French foods such as duck confit, ratatouille and French cheeses. For fun, play petanque, a French yard game similar to bocce ball.