How to Throw an Oktoberfest Party

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After Labor Day, it might seem like a long wait until the next holiday. Who wants to wait until Halloween to host their next bash? The good news: You don’t have to! Mid-September to early October is time to celebrate Oktoberfest.

This German festival is all about good times, beer and tasty German food. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate?

Now if you’re new to the festival, don’t you worry. We’ve got plenty of Oktoberfest party ideas to get you going.

What Is Oktoberfest?

Before you go gung ho on your Oktoberfest party ideas, you might find yourself asking what is Oktoberfest anyway?

Oktoberfest has been a German tradition since 1810. It began as a celebration of the marriage of Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. That year, Bavarians were treated to days of beer, food and entertainment. It was such a success that the tradition continued.

While Oktoberfest is a bit different these days (it starts in September for one), it’s still a time for celebration, sipping beer and enjoying the company of friends old and new.

How to Celebrate Oktoberfest at Home

When it comes to celebrating, we’ve got plenty of Oktoberfest party ideas. All you need is some beer and plenty of gemutlichkeit—that’s how Germans describe the feeling of friendliness and warmth.

Bring on the Food

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Whether your personal Oktoberfest lasts for 16 days (that’s the way they do it in Munich) or just an afternoon, you’ll want to serve up plenty of German food.

There are a lot of traditional dishes to choose from when it comes to planning your Oktoberfest menu, but there are a few options that everyone will be hoping for as they pull on their dirndls and lederhosen.

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Pour Some Drinks

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This is one celebration where the drinks are even more important than the food. To host a proper Oktoberfest party, you need to have a cooler or fridge stocked with plenty of German beer.

At Oktoberfest in Munich, you’ll find just a few select brewers including Hacker Pschorr, Hoffbrau and Lowenbrau. You can find most of these beers stateside along with some American versions of classic Oktoberfest brews. Our recommendation: Try some of each!

If beer isn’t quite your thing—or you just want options—there are plenty of other German drinks to enjoy. In fact, Germany is home to a pretty robust wine region known for excellent Rieslings and Gewurztraminer. And don’t forget about liqueurs like schnapps.

Create Your Own Beer Garden

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To host an authentic Oktoberfest celebration, you’ll want to make your backyard feel as much like a German beer garden as possible. Lucky enough, beer gardens are casual and easy-going so you don’t have to do much to make it feel like Munich.

Here’s what we recommend for getting into the spirit for the celebration:

  • Beer garden-style seating: At most beer gardens, you’ll find wooden tables just like this.
  • Steins: Sipping beer from a can or bottle? Not at Oktoberfest! Have guests bring their own and see who has the most over-the-top drinkware or stock up on some basic steins to use year after year. If you want to steer away from glass, try these custom cups; they make great party favors.
  • Blue and white decor: Bavaria’s national colors are blue and white. Incorporate them in plates, napkins and other decorations like bunting and tablecloths. And who could resist this Biergarten sign?

Fun and Games

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While your guests will be plenty busy eating soft pretzels and sipping from their steins, it never hurts to have a few activities at the ready.

  • Cue up a playlist: No, you don’t have to listen to polka for your entire party, but mix a few German tunes into an upbeat playlist for your party. Whatever you do, make sure to play “Ein Prosit,” a classic drinking song. Everyone will be singing along by the end of your fest.
  • Try a game of hammerschlagen: Get into the spirit of Oktoberfest with this truly German game. Players try to hammer their nail into a stump in the fewest whacks. It’s not just any ol’ hammer, though. This game calls for a cross pein hammer, one with a wedge end, which makes the game much more challenging.
  • Deal a hand of sheepshead: Americans know it as sheepshead, but this card game is derived from Schafkopf, Bavaria’s national card game.

Prost!

With the right Otoberfest party ideas, dishes and drinks, you’ll be all set for a successful backyard bash. So raise a glass and say prost! (that’s German for “cheers!”) as you dig into that schnitzel.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.