You look forward to this all year long…those weekends in mid-September through early October to celebrate the German heritage with friends and family at various festivals. But this year you’re thinking about surprising them by creating your own Oktoberfest. Granted, the biggest party is the one in Munich, Germany that hosts over 6 million people; yours will be a tad smaller. But there’s no reason your Oktoberfest can’t be just as festive using these terrific Oktoberfest ideas.
You can really have fun and use your imagination in creating your invitations! But if you need some ideas to get you started, here are a few:
- What’s more symbolic of Oktoberfest than a beer mug? Your friends will get a kick out of receiving a beer mug invitation complete with all the party details.
- You have to buy a ticket to be able to enter the Oktoberfest celebration. So create ticket invitations to your Oktoberfest.
- Create a postcard with a picture of you (and your better half) dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing of a dirndl and lederhosen with all your party info on the back.
Don’t forget that your invitations should be adorned with a German phrase to give it that authentic feel. Try using one of these on the front-side of your invitations:
- “Ein Prosit” which means “Toast!”
- “Wilkommen!” is “Welcome!”
- “Sie sind herzlich eingeladen” translates to “You are cordially invited…”
If you insist the party-goers wear Bavarian clothing to your Oktoberfest, provide a small list of stores in the invitation where they can buy or rent them.
Decorations and Food
If you’ve been to an Oktoberfest, then you know that there are many tents, all with their own theme and color. If you have lots of backyard space, put up a few pop-up canopies or pop-up tents; if you can only squeeze in two tents, that’s fine too. If you need to have the festivities indoors, no worries, you can create a tent effect by putting up a white flat sheet on your ceiling and pinning each sheet corner to the walls. Inside each “tent” hang Oktoberfest flags, pictures of Germany and balloons and Oktoberfest streamers in the appropriate color. Of course, one of the tents must be a beer tent where your guests can sample every Oktoberfest beer! Make sure each beer has a place card with the beer name, its origination and other fun facts you might have looked up about the beer.
You’ll want your dinnerware to pop; for example, a white tablecloth with medium blue plates and baby blue napkins and utensils will do the trick. Likewise, a black tablecloth with red plates, red utensils and gold napkins will really stand out. Each of your tables should be adorned with an easy-to-make centerpiece. All you need is a decorative beer stein—or a beer mug—set in the middle of a dinner plate; fill the beer steins with carnations, hops and dried wheat and place many big, fresh pretzels on the plates.
For the final touch, you just can’t have an authentic celebration without some good polka and German music! Maybe you even know someone in your city that plays the accordion and would be willing to perform live at your party.
Of course, your Oktoberfest just wouldn’t be complete without an Oktoberfest banner at the entrance to welcome your friends and family!
Okay, you’ve taken care of the decorations…now what about food? Well, your Oktoberfest just wouldn’t be genuine without German food, so here are a few fantastic suggestions to serve as a buffet:
- Assorted types of wurst such as Bratwurst and Knockwurst
- Wiener schnitzel
- Potato pancakes or potato dumplings
- German potato salad (served warm)
- Soft, hot pretzels
- Black Forest cake or German chocolate cake
- Apple Strudel
Let’s not forget the beer! Ah, but how could we forget that? Here’s an awesome selection of Oktoberfest beers to pick from and serve with all that yummy food:
- Flying Fish Beer
- Harpoon Octoberfest Beer
- Beck’s Oktoberfest Beer
- Pete’s Wicked Oktoberfest Beer
- Ayinger OktoberFest Märzen Beer
- Mendocino Oktoberfest Beer
- Victory Festbier Beer
- Stoudts Oktoberfest Beer
- Paulaner Oktoberfest Beer
- Samuel Adams Oktoberfest Beer
If children are invited, you could serve them root beer.
An Oktoberfest is known for their beer and food, but it just wouldn’t be much of a celebration without fun and games too, right? But winners of these games will need a prize like Oktoberfest sunglasses, homemade “medals”, beer mug suspenders or a belt or even an inexpensive, decorative beer stein. We have some cool suggestions to keep your guests moving and having a blast at your festivities.
If you have friends and family that like to play chess, and you have the backyard space, then a chess tournament using a huge chess set should keep them entertained. They’ll certainly get their exercise moving the gigantic pieces around the board! Whoever wins the first chess game will play the winner of the next game and it will continue until there’s a champion who earns a prize. This is a magnificent game for all.
All that peppy German Oompah and Bavarian folk music will make people want to get up and dance! You could provide a dance floor if your party is inside—or just a grassy area if it’s outside—where they can waltz, do the chicken dance, or just boogie along with all the great tunes played from CDs or your accordion player. If your budget allows, see if you can hire a Bavarian band like King Ludwig’s Band. You could even have a dancing contest!
For some great laughs, hold a yodeling contest. Give prizes to those who are the best, who yodel the longest and the loudest. You could probably think up more awards on your own.
How about a beer barrel race? Provide empty kegs for guests to race with through an obstacle course, uphill or simply across your yard—this is a super race for kids, too, if they’re in attendance. The racer with the fastest time wins a prize. Or you could have a beer stein race in which party-goers race to the finish line with a filled mug in each hand; the one who has the most beer left in their mugs wins. Another variation of the beer stein race is to have competitors hold as many full beer steins as they can while running to their small bucket at the finish line; the person who fills their bucket with the most beer in a certain amount of time, wins. The prize could be their bucket of beer.
Since everyone will already be dressed up, hold a Bavarian costume contest. You and your partner can be the judges as to which guest is the most authentic in their dress and that guest is awarded a prize.
Oktoberfest wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without a German sing-along! While everyone’s enjoying the beer (and food), that accordion player or Bavarian band you hired can throw a few drinking songs into their mix. These are just a sample of what they can sing:
- “Bien Her” – a melody about letting the beer constantly flow
- “Bayern, Des Samma Mir” – a song celebrating the German way of drinking
- “Ein Prosit” – a short song toasting a relaxing time
- “Der Mai Ist Gekommen” – a tune that commemorates life and the world that surrounds you
There are other great songs for a sing-along and your guests will have a magnificent time singing the chorus of each one—they may even learn some German in the process!
As everyone leaves the celebration you can hand out goodie bags filled with things like pretzels, a CD of German music, antacids (for all the sauerkraut and brats they ate), a bottle of beer with an Oktoberfest custom label and, if kids are invited, an Oktoberfest LED necklace.
If you don’t want to do the standard goodie bag, set up a photo booth by the exit and let everyone take a picture of themselves in their costumes. What a marvelous way to remember a fun, festive day!
With these awesome ideas (or some of your own) your Oktoberfest will be a huge, memorable hit. Everyone will have so much fun that your friends and family will be begging you to have one again next year!