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Dinner Party Ideas: Themed Nights, Playlists, Decor and Exquisite Menus

A dinner party with a table set of glasses

Have you ever fancied yourself as the star of Come Dine with Me? Or thought to yourself ‘I can do better’ when watching?

Whether you’re thinking of entertaining friends or family, or are actually hosting your very own Come Dine with Me at home, we’ve got some ideas to get you the all-important 10s when it comes to scoring!

This is our guide on how to utilise the most important elements of a dinner party to throw a night that is guaranteed to leave your guests talking! From interactive dinner party themes, to cuisine themed dinner party ideas with matching drinks, decor and music, we have you covered!  

Interactive Dinner Party Theme ideas   

When entertaining at home it is important to keep the conversation flowing and create memorable moments for everyone involved.

Interactive dinner party themes are an ideal way of achieving this! Perfectly filled with ice breakers for a party of strangers or plenty of fun if you’re entertaining friends and family, it is a great way to liven up your dinner party!

Struggling to get some creative ideas flowing? Not to worry we have chosen our top 3 favourite themed party nights and are going to tell you exactly how to plan them!

Murder Mystery Dinner Party

A dinner party table set for a spooky murder mystery dinner party

I am sure you have all heard of murder mysteries? A case of a murder mystery is the perfect way to get your guests chatting and to keep them entertained in a fun way.

Have fun with it!

Invite guests; give them a character to play for the full night and they must dress and role play as this character! This theme will take a lot of planning for a host but is certain to make everyone laugh and form the BEST memories.

Assigning character roles can be a lot of fun… if you steer away from offending your company. A great way to do this, (and maybe easier for those who aren’t gifted in the art of performance) is assigning characters based on your friends personality.

For example, is one of your best friends a drama queen? Give them the role of a movie star. Is someone a gossip? Give them the role of a ‘mean girl’.

Then of course… you need to decide a plot for the mystery murder and assign a murderer!

The murder mystery dinner theme is definitely one of the more unique dinner theme ideas but the beauty is there is no stress to keep to a certain dinner party food!

Take some inspiration from some great recipes below…

DIY Pizza Party

This is by far an easier option of an interactive night; it requires minimal effort for the host but still achieves the element of fun in an interactive dinner party. Not to mention an all round people pleaser because who doesn’t love pizza!?

A pizza in a pizza oven, with aubergine, mozzarella and basil

With this theme you can be as lazy or pro active as you want!

You can make enough dough for your party, buy enough dough for your guests or make life that little bit easier for yourself and purchase ready made pizza bases… Our favourite are the M&S handcrafted sour dough bases.

If you’re choosing dough, depending on whether or not you can be bothered you can roll out each of the pizza bases, or if you don’t mind a bit of mess cover your dining table in flour, arm each guest with a rolling pin and put them to work and get them to roll their own pizza base out!

Finally set out a mix of toppings and give your friends and family the chance to make their own pizza with their favourite toppings.

Bump up your efforts and provide chef hats and aprons for comical value, it will also make for a great photo! Or if you’ve got a competitive party guest attending you could even make this into a competition and judge which one is the BEST!

‘Life’s a Beach’ Party Theme

Inflatable pool toys to decorate for a beach themed dinner party

You can’t go wrong with a beach party! It gives your guests the chance to dress up in silly outfits, whether it’s awful Hawaiian shirts or you go Hasslehoff and Anderson with a Baywatch theme a beach theme is assured leave your guests with a good taste in their mouth… no matter how your food tastes!

The perfect food to serve at a beach party has got to be a British barbeque! Get in the garden and cook up some burgers and hot dogs! Or alternatively you could go more elegant and serve an array of seafood.

Arguably the most important part of the night would be the drinks! Serve up a Piña Colada to transport your party to a tropical beach in Bali or a cooled beer to give off a more Aussie beach feel.

You can go BIG with decorating your home for a beach theme; you could cover your back garden in sand, get the deck chairs out and blow up some fun pool inflatables.

This theme is ideal for a summer dinner party!

Cuisine Themed Dinner Party Ideas

Although there are plenty of benefits of an interactive dinner party, if you’re looking for something a bit simpler and more of an intimate gathering you could plan your dinner party around a specific cuisine!

 Sometimes with dinner parties, more choice makes it harder to plan! Planning your party around a cuisine gives you a limited choice but is guaranteed to make all elements of your evening tie in together and leave you with a flawlessly coherent night.

We have chosen our top cuisines ideal for dinner parties and done all the planning for you! With recipe ideas, decor inspiration and a fun harmonising playlist to get your guests in the party mood.

TOP TIP! Get your guests to dress up as something relating to the cuisine or make a pub quiz with questions around the theme of the night to curate a bit of healthy competition!

Italian Dinner Party

Whisk your guests off to Italy with an Italian themed night!

At the very heart of Italian food is family. Swapping and passing big bowls of delicious food up and down the table, endless chatter, laughter and most importantly PLENTY of wine! This is definitely one our favourite themed dinner parties.   

Starter: Italian Charcuterie Board

A Charcuterie board is a crowd pleaser! So why not put an Italian twist on this traditionally French dish. Organise an entrée of Italian meats, such as a flavourful punch of Mortadella, Porchetta, wafer thin slices of Prosciutto and Pancetta and serve alongside some Italian cheeses like soft mozzarella or an extra sharp provolone to add a bit of tang to your board.

Add crackers, nuts and toasted bread alongside sun dried tomatoes and a pesto sauce for the perfect added Italian twist.

Main: Creamy Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is the perfect thing for a three course Italian night; it isn’t too heavy on the stomach but will still ensure your guests go home with a full stomach.

Dish up a delicious creamy mushroom risotto covered in grated Parmesan. Serve with a side of crusty garlic bread…because who doesn’t love garlic bread and watch your guests devour!

Dessert: Tiramisu

What better way to finish off your dinner then with a rich, elegant and delicately delicious dessert? With a sharp alcoholic kick mixed with note of coffee makes tiramisu the most intensely indulgent dessert!

This airy dessert is sure to cleanse the palette and round off your Italian dinner with a flawless finish!

Wine Pairings

Italy being one of the largest producers of wine, arguably wine is a vital part of an Italian dinner party theme (or that’s the excuse you can give to drink lots of it!). You want a wine which will compliment the dishes you serve but also allow an option for your guests.


This intense red wine would be the perfect paring for the risotto with a blend of rose, herbs, red berries and fruit.

Pinot Grigio

Providing refreshing and zesty notes, this light white wine is the perfect addition for your three course meal. The zesty notes will work in contrast with the extreme savoury flavour of the charcuterie and work together to bring a divine complimentary wine for your dinner.


To give a true rustic Italian feel to your night add a big red and white checked tablecloth. Baskets filled with bread with little bowls of olive oil mixed with balsamic dotted around the table will add an instant feel of Italy to your evening.

Keep it cosy with a very simple table setting, wine glasses and candle sticks to completely round off the look and turn our dining room into a beautiful rustic, cosy Italian restaurant.

Playlist: Italian Classics

A mix of chilled Italian classics that both soothe and relax. Perfect for setting the mood and sipping wine to by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and much more.

Turn it down low and let it play in the background complementing the warm buzz of good conversation with faultless background music.

Mexican Food Party

Have your own Cinco de Mayo celebration in your own home! Fill your dining room with bright colours, lively music and great food with a Mexican themed dinner party.

Of course no fiesta is complete without a grand Mexican menu, follow our simple tips and your dinner party is guaranteed to impress!

To Start: Traditional Mexican Nachos

Everyone’s favourite dish… Nachos. With them being a pretty simple dish to make, you can prep them earlier in the day and then pop them in the oven to bake and serve upon arrival of your guests! That being said, if you still want to impress with this effortless dish this is still possible!

Of course you need the basics, sour cream, guacamole, cheese and salsa but take it one step further with chipotle flavoured ground beef, refried beans and even some lettuce for a real wow factor.

Main Course: Enchiladas

Cheese, carbs and flavour – what’s not to love about this traditional Mexican dish?

There’s no need to leave your guests to entertain themselves with this dish. You can prepare the filling earlier on in the day and have them ready to assemble and pop in the oven, just in time to be ready for your guests finishing their starter.

Customise this dish to your tasting if you’re not a fan of beef you can simply replace the beef with chicken or if you have a vegetarian guest simply switch the meat with kidney beans and potato.

To Finish: Marbled Tres Leches Cake

Likely to see a Tres Leches cake in Mexican bakeries, restaurants and taquerias, complete your Mexican themed night with this traditional Latin American pudding.

This rich Mexican classic is a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk to give a rich yet light and airy finish to your evening!

Tres leches cake recipe (milk cake) | BBC Good Food
Image Credited to BBC Good Food

Mexican Cocktails

Bring the fun and make your evening one to remember (depending on your alcohol measurements) with some signature cocktails. Often with a tequila base, Mexican cocktails tend to have more kick to them, rather than the likes of a Pornstar Martini, which tend to be a bit sweeter.

We have chosen three cocktail options to complete your evening and really give a wow factor to your event.

A Bloody Mary cocktail with tomatoes on a cocktail stick to garnish
Bloody Mary

This cocktail is definitely unlike any other, it has a unique savoury flavour with notes of spice and salt. It is in essence Mexico in a glass.

A Margarita cocktail with a dried orange garnish

Let’s be honest, you can’t have a Mexican themed dinner party without a Margarita! Transport your guests to Mexico with notes out sour lime, floral citrus, soothing tequila mixed with a hint of sweetness!

An iced Paloma cocktail with slices of lime in it.

A tequila-based cocktail served on the rocks, often with a slice of lime or grapefruit to garnish. This cocktail gives a real kick.

Playlist: The Sound of Mariachi

Make your guests feel like they’re in the centre of a fun fiesta with upbeat violins, trumpets, guitars and maracas.

A background noise of traditional Mexican Mariachi music is guaranteed to get your guests on their feet.


A great decorating idea would be inspired by Mardi Gras, a traditional Mexican celebration with bright colours, loud music and full of excitement! Use brightly coloured plates and decorate around your table with colourful bunting.

You could even surprise your guests with decorative masks to commemorate the Mardi Gras carnival.

American Road Trip

A yellow camper van driving through the dessert

The American cuisine had got to be the ultimate comfort food! Take your friends and family on a trip around American with this great dinner party theme.

Starter: Buffalo wings

Buffalo wings for an ideal starter for American diner themed dinner party

What better so say America than with sticky BBQ Buffalo wings! You can dress this meal up, with a small salad and garnish or alternatively keep them looking truly American and pop them in a bucket!

TOP TIP! If you’re catering for vegetarians, simply replace the chicken for roasted cauliflower.

Main: Hot Dogs

You’ve taken your guests to South America with your starter, so why not put them in the centre of a baseball game!

A quick hot dog is a staple for any American during a baseball game (think of it as strawberries and cream at Wimbledon for a Brit).

Go vegan with a veggie hot dog option!

Serve with traditional American fries to make this meal more filling.

Finish with a Sundae

So, your guests have now experienced Southern American BBQ, a baseball game, now it’s time to take them to a 50s retro diner and serve up a Sundae! This is a simple dessert but an American classic!

TOP TIP! Give your guest options of all the toppings and let them make their own with their favourite toppings!

To Drink

One of the focal points in an American diner is the thick milkshakes. Why not try dipping their fries your milkshake? These are pretty easy to make and you can give your guests an option of flavours.


Decorate your dining room as a retro diner, with retro signs, a cardboard cut out duke box and tray of sauces as a centre piece.

 Playlist: Best American Diner Music

 A Rock ‘n’ Roll playlist will really set the scene for your guests to make them feel like their truly in a diner in the 80s.

To Drink

One of the focal points in an American diner is the thick milkshakes. Why not try dipping their fries your milkshake?

These are pretty easy to make and you can give your guests an option of flavours.

Other dinner party themes…

  • Love breakfast? For your next dinner party why not serve breakfast for dinner and you guests bring their pyjamas!
  • Another fun dinner party idea is buffet style, which is guaranteed to have one delicious meal to please all your guests.
  • You could also do a soup dinner party; every meal is a different soup.
  • Or go British and serve an afternoon tea sandwiches or a Sunday dinner with all the fixings. Served with traditional English sparkling wine.
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