We first got into grown-up theme parties with food themes. We picked a country (like Greece) or a style (like grilled cheese sandwiches), and had a potluck with people keeping to the theme. Then came mom’s turn to host a monthly Star Trek party (a community potluck involving watching a few episodes and not dressing up) and she asked if she could have it at my house. I really did that party up — printed and laminated drink menus with such classics as Romulan Ale, Klingon Martinis, and Slug-o-Cola, hung a “Quark’s” sign over the bar, and made Quadriticale Bread, Hasperat, and my own take on Gladt (dolmas).
Since then, we’ve hosted a circus night and a Super Mario night, and I’ve realized most people see these themes as being just for kids. Here’s how to throw a themed party geared towards an older crowd:
Consider your guests
What are their interests? Do they have food or drink allergies? It’s important to pick a theme everyone can enjoy and to make sure that there is at least something that celiac friend of yours can eat. If you’ll be hosting a mixed bag of people, select an accessible them. If you’re just inviting a select group of close friends this isn’t such a problem, but when inviting a large group you don’t want to pick a theme so nerdy that your coworkers won’t get into it!
Pick your theme — and push it!
Have a lot of friends been expressing a craving for Italian? Pull up some classic Italian recipes, encourage others to make their favorites, watch a classic Italian movie. Do you have a friend who’s joining the circus? Make an adult take on corn dogs: corn bratwursts or sausages with extra spice in the batter. Add smoked turkey legs, alcoholic sno-cones, cotton candy martinis, and find new card games. Has your husband developed a recent obsession with classic video games? Plan one-up jello shots, gorgonzola-stuffed goombas, and firepower poppers, as an excellent accent to a video game tournament.
You don’t have to push costumes — unless that’s your thing. A little research online will turn up loads of ideas for food, drink, and games. And get creative! Get a keg for Greek night (frat parties — get it?). Sometimes all you need to do is rename a common finger food to get Star Fleet fare for your Star Trek party.
Talk it over
Unless it’s a surprise party. Otherwise, I’ve found people are always willing to contribute ideas, and they love to think about what they’ll bring.
Truth be told, if your friends are anything like mine, they enjoy any reason to get together and eat. They’ll have fun and will start coming to you, suggesting a Thai night, a Martini night, or a Texas Hold ‘Em night… and the themes will never stop.
Who said theme parties were just for kids? What you got, Homies? What are your best offbeat themes?