It’s cold outside, and your first urge might be to stay in and hibernate, but a fun party might be just the thing to break you and your family out of that funk. Pick a theme, follow the simple party essentials checklist, invite friends over, and forget about those chilly temperatures outside.
1. Apres Ski
Maybe you’re lucky enough to live near a mountain, but even if you don’t, there’s no reason why you can’t get your friends together for an evening reminiscent of one spent in an Alpine ski lodge. Place extra skis and snowboards around the house for that lodge feel, have some hearty cheese fondue waiting for your guests, and get that fire roaring. What’s not to love about German or Swiss comfort food and a chance to tell everyone about that time you conquered the black diamond slope?
2. Murder Mystery
A favorite with private-eye wannabes, this is a great party theme for adults and older kids. You can purchase a boxed set, or go with a downloadable version. This type of party is more fun with larger groups, since you want to make sure you have someone for each role. Many of the games are set in locations like the Wild West, on a boat, or during specific time periods like the roaring 20s or Victorian age, so costumes are a natural choice. Invite everyone to come dressed as their characters, and set out simple snacks and drinks. You want the crime-solving to take center stage.
3. Little Italy
Start with some classic Italian opera playing in the background, and invite everyone over for an Italian feast. Serve up classic favorites like big bowls of spaghetti and fresh antipasto. For younger guests, have make-your-own pizzas, complete with a pizza dough tossing competition (just like the pros). End the night with some authentic cannolis, and everyone will be saying “grazie” on the way out.
4. Classic Movie Theatre
Choose a family favorite like The Wizard of Oz, or Lady and the Tramp. Send everyone personalized movie ticket invitations and have your own concessions stand set up when they arrive. You can even make it a double-feature or a themed night and show a few movies, for example: The Rescuers Movies, or Dumbo and Bambi (for an animal theme).
Masquerade parties are fun on their own, but adding a theme makes for an extra challenge, and fantastic photos. Choose a color or place/era: black and white, Mardi Gras, or Brazilian carnival, and offer up a photo booth for guests. Half the fun is picking out your mask, the other half is figuring out who’s who.
6. Roaring 20s
Who doesn’t love a flapper dress? A roaring 20s party gives everyone the chance to dress up in their 1920s finest, complete with headbands and feathers, fedoras, and a cigarette holder or two. Serve up period cocktails, push the furniture to the side and warm up with the Charleston.
7. Ping Pong Tournament
Perfect for the family with a game room that rarely gets used. A ping pong tournament is all about the game. Set out simple snacks, but make sure you have the bracket all set up. Create special prizes for the winners, and let the competition begin!
You pick the movie; everyone else has to dress the part. Some suggestions: Disney movies, John Hughes movies, Wes Anderson movies. You can get as detailed as you want with the theme, it doesn’t have to stop at costumes. A Wes Anderson-themed party, for example, could have Royal Tenenbaum-styled invitations, a playlist pulled from the movie soundtracks, and a game of trivia to polish it off.
Bust out of the sweats and have everyone over for hors d’oeuvres, champagne, and a night of complimenting your friends on how nice they look “all cleaned up.” You can add something extra like a blind champagne tasting for an added activity.
Crank up the heat, serve up tropical food and drinks, play the beach boys, and invite everyone to come over and hang out in their favorite summer garb. You probably already have many of the decorative items stored away for the season, so put that beach umbrella in the corner, and supplement with some fun supplies from the luau section at your local party store.
11. Famous Duos
This is a great party theme for a bunch of couples, or best friends. Every couple has to come dressed up as a famous (or infamous couple). Think Antony and Cleopatra, Bert and Ernie, or Batman and Robin. Keep the theme going with inseparable duo-themed snacks: peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, pigs in a blanket, milk and cookies.
Rent a machine, and build the ultimate songlist for you and your friends. You’ll want to keep food easy to eat, and offer up a few drinks for liquid courage. Keep a camera on hand to capture the best moments, and let the fun begin.
There are plenty of interactive dance video games out there. Choose one, and invite over some friends, you’ll be surprised what a hit a little dancing can be. Keep everyone hydrated with sports drinks and then take a break for snacks. Winner gets bragging rights.
14. Game Night
Focus on games that are good for larger groups: Clue, Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples or Pictionary. Keep the food and drinks simple. Try to avoid serving anything that requires a fork so that everyone’s hands are free to easily play along. Offer comfortable seating, and see how many games you can fit into an evening.
15. Winter Wonderland
With the right weather, you might even want to embrace the elements. Include a few fun outdoor activities like a snowman-building competition, sledding, or a nice bonfire for making s’mores, and set up a hot chocolate station to keep everyone warm.