Fun Dinner Party Themes to Level Up Your Next Event (or Holiday)

Forget the everyday dishes and get creative with these thematic menus, dinner party decor, and DIY ideas.

<p>SolStock/Getty Images</p>

SolStock/Getty Images

The holidays and entertaining go hand in hand, but it doesn't have to be the holidays to throw a dinner party or get creative with it. Whether you're throwing a formal dinner party or doing some casual entertaining, dinner parties are a fun way to bring people together.

If you need a little inspiration, these creative starting points will guide you to the perfect dinner theme idea—there are even some specific themes (and recipes!) in each category that you can run with for your own culinary adventure.

Dinner Party Themes Ideas

If you're getting ready to host friends and family for a dinner party, picking a theme might feel overwhelming. First, consider your surroundings or situation. Be sure to consider factors like the occasion, time of year, weather, and location when deciding on a theme. With this in mind, here are some dinner party themes to explore.

Pick Destinations Around the Globe

Pick a favorite vacation destination (or something from your travel bucket list), research a menu from there (don't forget dessert!), and perhaps go a little further by playing music or watching movies from that country.

Don't be afraid to travel to more than one destination either; you can offer a trip around Asia with a dish from each destination, or opt to serve different cultures' versions of dumplings as appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. Here are a few ideas to get you started:


Want to keep it all American? Consider choosing delicacies from places you've visited or lived. Here are a few suggestions:

  • New Orleans Cajun or Creole fare

  • Chicago-style deep-dish pizza

  • New York cheesecake

  • New England lobster rolls

  • Tex-Mex fajitas and enchiladas

Set Up a DIY Food Party

If you're looking for a fun dinner theme idea that's low-effort, high reward, choose a menu theme that's really interactive. Setting up DIY food bars may require a bit of prep and presentation, but your guests (or your family) will take it from there to build customized creations.

Bonus: This is an excellent option when your fellow diners have dietary restrictions or are simply picky eaters, as they can skip over any ingredients that don't work for them. Some make-your-own-dinner theme inspiration includes:

  • Pizza

  • Tacos, burritos, or nachos

  • Salad

  • Sandwiches

  • Mac-and-cheese (with fun toppings!)

You might even choose to turn your next dinner into a Chopped-style competition, where you give a set secret ingredient, open access to the kitchen or DIY bar, and offer a time limit to produce something awesome.

Think Outside the Dinner Box

Sometimes, the best dinner isn't actually dinner. Consider dining options that aren't usually served in the evening (or as a full meal). Some options to consider include:

  • Breakfast for dinner (think egg dishes or waffles)

  • Charcuterie boards (add enough veggies and fruit alongside the meat and cheese, and it's a meal)

  • Hors d'oeuvres as a meal

You can also look for ways to minimize (or maximize!) your menu to have a little fun with your dinner. Consider serving all miniaturized foods (think sliders, French onion soup bites, mini hot dogs, and mini desserts) or supersize (giant cookie for dessert).

Consider Time Travel

Take a trip back in time, whether you opt for retro favorites from a bygone era. Or maybe you want to take it way back to medieval times or the Victorian era. Dinner parties like this are even better if costumes are involved—think disco costumes and a menu with a 1970s vibe. A few dinner menu theme ideas include:

  • 1970s style with cheese fondue, old-school casseroles, and a 1970s-style icebox cake

  • Medieval with meat pies, hearty stews, and desserts with fruit and honey

  • 1920s with deviled eggs (invented in the 1920s), tea sandwiches, canapés, and oysters with Roaring '20s cocktails like Tom Collins and French 75

Celebrate Minor Holidays

Obviously, there are the big holidays like Thanksgiving, New Year's, and the 4th of July. If your dinner party falls around the holidays, it might be fun to go with a holiday theme. But honestly, any day can be a celebration. Get inspiration from those fun food holidays like Ice Cream Day on July 16th, or National Hamburger Day on May 28th. Celebrate minor holidays (like creating a red, white, and blue something for Flag Day on June 14th). You can even make up your own holiday and make a menu perfect for it.


Be mindful of the presentation. The presentation of your dishes (and decor) can really enhance the guest experience—and it's half the fun for a holiday-themed dinner party.

Get Pop Culture Inspired

If you're plotting dinner party associated with a binge watch or movie marathon, take inspiration from what you're showing. Your book club may also love having a book-inspired menu. (I recently hosted my book club's discussion of Lessons in Chemistry, and I opted for a chicken pot pie and brownies, as they were featured in key plot points in the book.)

Or maybe you'll want to find a theme with a twist, like only serving TikTok famous recipes. (A dinner party is the perfect opportunity to revisit the viral baked feta pasta, cowboy caviar, upside-down puff pastry, or whatever TikTokers dream up next.)

Stick to the Season

Consider having a seasonal theme for your next dinner party (or do a dinner party every season!). A season theme offers you the opportunity to celebrate the flavors of the season with the freshest ingredients.

For instance, a summer dinner party might be a picnic theme with refreshing cocktails, barbecue, and vibrant salads with ripe tomatoes or even strawberries. Incorporating seasonal elements into the decor, like fresh flowers (perhaps with edible flowers as well!) for the spring or warm vanilla candles in the winter, adds to the memorable experience for guests.

The seasons don't have to do with the weather either; you can also consider sports seasons. For example, if it's football season and you're gathering for or before a game, a tailgating theme may also make sense for you.


Opt for creative menus, decorations, and mood music to match. Perhaps even what you wear can be part of the whole experience.

Pick a Color

A color dinner party theme might sound silly, but it can be lot of fun to get creative with different foods of the same color. For example, you might have a pink-themed dinner party to celebrate the birthday of your friend who loves the color pink.

For a pink-themed dinner party, you might have smoked salmon canapés or pink radish soup. A purple theme might incorporate veggies like graffiti cauliflower, beets, purple potatoes, or fruits like grapes, plums, blackberries, and elderberries.

For a color-themed party, experiment with food coloring. Make the cake for dessert blue. Top the brownies with green icing. Use red sprinkles on the ice cream. Whatever color you choose, there are tons of ways to get creative with adding it to your dishes.

Entertaining Preparation Tips

There are plenty of ways to make any dinner—regardless of the theme you choose—more fun. Here are some tips to keep in mind when thinking about your dinner party menu.

  • Offer a range of options to suit all dietary restrictions. For example, you might include vegetarian or gluten-free options depending on your guests. Ask your guests if they have any allergies and label any dishes that contain allergens like eggs, nuts, shell fish, and other common kinds.

  • Aim for a balanced meal. Your dinner party menu should include a variety of flavors and textures to create an exciting and satisfying experience for your guests. This might also mean including drinks that pair well with each dish.

  • Choose dishes that you can prepare in advance. If that's not possible, at the very least, choose dishes that require minimal last-minute preparation. This way, you can spend more time enjoying the meal with your guests (and entertaining them) than cooking during the event.

Related: 33 Make Ahead Meals for Family Dinners and Parties

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