Prost! (That’s ‘Cheers!’ in German.) Oktoberfest is a 16-day celebration in Munich, Germany, that runs from late September to early October. Each year, more than 6 million people attend, making it one of the world’s largest fairs. But you don’t have to travel to Germany to celebrate. Right now it’s a buzzing party theme across social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram — racking up more than 4 million posts on the latter. Scroll on for the best Oktoberfest party ideas!
“Oktoberfest is one of my absolute favorite parties to throw. Beautiful fall weather, German food and good beer…what’s not to love?” say party pros Kendra Riordan and Tara Hanlon of Prepping Parties. What’s more, it’s surprisingly easy to toss together a German beer garden look in your own backyard.
To get the look of Riordan and Hanlon’s Oktoberfest party (above), simply top a long table with a blue tablecloth, then add festive on-theme decor and banners from the party store, DIY chalkboard menus and an array of German-inspired snacks and bites like pierogies, brats and soft pretzels. Keep reading for more wallet-friendly tips and tricks.
Surprise everyone with stout-splashed cupcakes
Sweet chocolate balances the savory flavors of Oktoberfest fare perfectly. For a fun twist, try adding a hint of stout beer to chocolate cupcakes. To do: Prepare your favorite boxed devil’s food cake mix according to package instructions, swapping water for stout beer (like Guinness). For the frosting, mix 2 Tbs. of stout beer into 2 cups of your favorite chocolate frosting; pipe onto cupcakes. (Love the idea of booze-infused cupcakes? Check out these delicious cocktail cupcakes on our sister site.)
Plate up a tasty beer sampler
Riordan and Hanlon poured traditional Oktoberfest beers like Paulaner, Warsteiner and Spaten (available at most liquor stores) at their party. Serving beer in flight form allows guests to sample each and pick favorites. To do: Pour 3 oz. of each type into a juice glass or plastic cup and display on a wooden tray. Tip: To best please the palate, line up beer by color from lightest to darkest; drink in that order. Post-party, if you have any leftover beer, check out these genius uses for stale beer.
Keep bottled beverages chilled with cute cozies
At her Oktoberfest party, event pro Mariah Leeson of Giggles Galore displayed fun (and functional) accents that kept the beers ice-cold. She simply filled a bucket with beer-can sleeves bearing festive phrases (like the Oktoberfest Sayings Can Sleeves, buy on OrientalTrading.com $10 for 12) and displayed it near crates of cold beer.
Add fun charm with a beer mug bouquet
This cheery arrangement created by Bonnie’s Flower Shop (find her on Instagram @Bonnie’s Flowers) brings joyful on-theme flair to your fest. To do: Fill a large glass beer mug about halfway with gold-foiled candies from the party store. Then snip a handful of white fluffy blooms (like spray roses or carnations) and pop stems into a small and narrow water-filled cup that’s smaller than the beer mug. Nestle the water-filled cup into the beer mug, moving around candy with your hands as needed. Place more candies around top of cup to create a full look. Display on your buffet or a nearby tabletop.
Pretty up place settings with simple Oktoberfest style
Instead of arranging stacks of plates on the buffet, charm guests with individual place settings topped with pretzel-kissed cutlery. For each, stack plates then top with a red checkered napkin, utensils and fresh blooms. For a splash of Bavarian style, top each setting with a soft or hard pretzel.
Want to something to serve with your pretzels? Try this cheesy pretzel dip that only takes a few minutes to whip up.
Wow everyone with a clever-cute snack board
Sweet and savory bites presented on soft pretzels are sure to impress. This board — created by food pro Meg Quinn of @ainttooproudtomeg on Instagram — is a fun addition to an Oktoberfest party. “If you are going the Oktoberfest route with this board, start with a sausage you love. Bratwurst is a classic! And don’t forget the dipping cheese and a great German Ale to wash it down.”
To get the look, place a few warm soft pretzels on a serving board. Then add your meats, cheeses, olives and fruits to each pretzel crevice. Guests can take one whole pretzel for themselves — each one is like its own mini charcuterie board. If you’re serving a larger crowd and don’t want to serve the larger pretzels, Quinn recommends swapping crackers out for mini hard pretzels on a classic charcuterie board.
Set a lively Oktoberfest vibe with music and games
At the annual Oktoberfest in Munich, music is just as important as beer. During the day, traditional brass band and polka tunes fill the party tents to energize the atmosphere. You can create the same feel by playing songs from the “Music for German Oktoberfest” playlist, or order the Oktoberfest in Germany CD.
Another way to enhance the fun? Play festive games! Munich’s Oktoberfest includes a “fun fair” filled with carnival games for all ages. Re-create the fun for your guests by setting up a few easy game stations in your backyard. Some Oktoberfest favorites: Ring toss around bottles of beer and a “Chicken Dance-off,” where the namesake song is played on repeat and whoever dances the longest wins. Have small prizes on hand for the winners, like scratch-off lottery tickets or six-packs of beer.
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.