How To Throw Your Own Oktoberfest Party
Each year, millions of revelers descend upon the Bavarian capital city of Munich to participate in the dining, drinking and dancing celebration known as Oktoberfest. While bratwurst, beer and polka music is a potent combination and usually a recipe for a good time, overseas travel can be a real budget buster. So, why not celebrate German tradition and culture by hosting your very own Oktoberfest party? Here are a few ways to add a little oom-pah to your Bavarian-themed get-together:
Put it in writing.
Hand out themed invitations to your intended guests that play up the Oktoberfest theme of your party. To reinforce the message in a fun way, forgo the standard Mr., Mrs. or Ms. salutation in favor of Herr, Frau or Fräulein, and try to incorporate the black, red and gold colors of the German flag.
Beer’s the thing.
It’s all about the beer isn’t it? Breweries worldwide sell their own interpretations of the Oktoberfest style, so finding a good selection from local brewers should be no problem wherever you live. If you want to go the purist route, most of the half-dozen official Oktoberfest brews such as Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Lowenbrau and Paulaner are readily available on grocery shelves everywhere. Keep an eye on seasonal in-store promotions, as many stores feature Oktoberfest displays with discounted brews.
Keep in mind that Oktoberfest-style beers – commonly called Märzen – tend to be darker and heartier in flavor than your average domestic brew, so it might be a good idea to have a few light-bodied pilseners or wheaty hefeweizen-style beers on hand for those guests who’ve yet to acquire the taste. Either way, try to serve each beer in a glass or stein rather than simply handing out a bottle or can. Any beer snob worth their weight in liquid gold will tell you that beer simply tastes better in a glass!
Get the best wurst!
As far as food and drink combinations go, beer and brats are hard to beat. Not to belittle the good old-fashioned hot dog, but on this occasion treat your guests to authentic German-style bratwurst from your local specialty butcher or meat market. In addition to their superior taste, they’re more likely to be free of artificial colors, preservatives and MSG. Add crusty bread rolls, spicy mustard, sweet and sour red cabbage, German potato salad and a hearty supply of sauerkraut and you’re good to go. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the ubiquitous apple strudel or deliciously decadent Black Forest cake.
Bring on the band.
Having traditional German music playing at your party is an obvious must-have, and it can be as simple as playing a selection of polka music CDs or creating a custom playlist with an online radio streaming service. But, for maximum foot-stomping and thigh-slapping fun, consider hiring a live party band. Known for their high energy and audience participation, a German oom-pah band will add considerable Bavarian flavor to your party and get your guests up and moving. A quick local talent agency search can direct you to suitable performers in your area, and most will have websites with sound samples so you can audition them in advance.
Play dress up!
If you do hire a band, they’ll likely be in traditional Bavarian dress; dirndls for the women and lederhosen for the men. Again, this adds substantial authenticity to the affair, and inviting your guests to follow suit will further add to the party atmosphere. Of course, unless your home is large enough to accommodate musical performers and guests, you may have to move the party outside, so if the idea of grown men dressed in leather shorts and suspenders cavorting in your garden and frightening the neighbors is a little off-putting, you can always play it safe and just dress up your home for the occasion. Adding a few German flags and streamers and decorating your tables with Bavarian blue and white diamond-patterned tableware from your local party store will add to the festive air while keeping your reputation intact!
- Don’t forget the kids: serve root beer and hot dogs along with traditional fall favorites like pumpkin pie and candied apples. Have pumpkins available for carving (adult-supervised of course) and face painting to keep them entertained.
- Oktoberfest beers are known for their high alcohol content, so serve them in moderation as well as offering non-alcoholic alternatives. In addition, make sure that all guests who’ll be driving to your party have designated drivers.