1. Adventure in another culture
Instead of just serving Indian food, try to give your guests an adventurous night in India (or China, or Mexico, or …). Wrap yourself in a colorful (bought or homemade saari), crank up the Sitar music, whip out the banana leaves, and leave the forks, knives and spoons off to the side, for the fainthearted.
Do the best you can to re-create an authentic atmosphere. Then when you bring out the Gulab Jamun, the Aloo Gobi, and the Cocunut Barfi, your guests will know they’ve come to the right place.
2. Do-It-Yourself Cocktail bar
This is a really fun way to spice up your evening. Make sure all the proper barware is there (like ice bags, bar spoons, muddlers, Jiggers, cocktail shakers, etc), along with the appropriate alcohol juices, and garnishes.
Make a few little booklets with a smattering of recipies and clear “how to” instructions, and then let your guests have a blast playing bartender.
Not everyone drinks, so for each cocktail recipe you put out there, make sure to include a “mocktail” alternative also.
3. Funky tabletops
There are tables and tablecloths available that can do all sorts of things. There are tables out there that light up, others made of chalkboard, and still others that glow in a space where you put something. Hosting a dinner on any one of these spices life up and adds to the fun.
4. Party games
Some people like “icebreaker” games. Others are put off by them. But an interesting and challenging game, be it a strategy game or otherwise, can really generate a good time.
The trick to a good game is that it should be hard enough to engage them, but easy enough that they won’t be pushed off by it.
5. Great Conversations
Pick out some interesting topics of discussion – ones you know will be controversial in the least. Remind everyone that we’re not looking to argue, but to get at the truth. Remind them that when parties are discussing things, they can come to a common conclusion. Then let the fun begin.
The best conversations are those that get to the bottom of how people feel about an issue, not just what they think of it. A debate about Obama’s health care policy is a superficial debate. A discussion of what it means to me and you today can be a great conversation. Aim for the emotional level of the debate and you’ll find your guests fascinated.
6. Scenery Switch
“Move to another room for dessert and coffee. A new atmosphere keeps the flow of the evening going.” —Sara Story, designer
7. Edible Centerpieces
Take a favorite food, and turn it into an edible centerpiece. One tip though – most people will not want to ruin your design – so you ruin it for them by taking the first bite.
8. A waft of mystery
What you want to do here is get your guests involved. Start the evening off with a bit of mystery and give clues throughout the meal. It doesn’t have to involve murder. Even the identity of the special dessert at the end of the meal will get your friends interested in that final revelation. Offer a prize for the individual who is able to guess at the identity.