How to Host an Oktoberfest Party
Traditional German food, beer, music and general merriment: that’s what Oktoberfest is all about. An Oktoberfest party, to many, is an autumn celebration staple, and we say give the people what they want!
Here is how you can host your own Oktoberfest party.
Setting the Scene: An Oktoberfest Biergarten
Oktoberfest is meant to be outside, usually in a biergarten or under a big tent. Setting up a biergarten is much easier than it sounds…a real “garden” isn’t even necessary. Rather, assemble a collection of picnic-like tables in a small outdoor area, cover the area with lights and you’ve set the scene! As for the beer tent, consider renting or borrowing a large tent, fill it with tables and chairs and cover it with lights.
- PARTY TIP: Use strings of white Christmas lights to decorate the biergarten and/or beer tent.
Seating and Furniture
Repeat after us: “I will not use my nicest furniture and seating at an Oktoberfest party.”
In other words, do not borrow Grandma’s antique Bavarian dining table if you plan on channeling your inner Oktoberfest at this celebration. Your goal is not to impress guests with intricacies of finely-crafted, vintage wooden tables and chairs. Your number one goal is to make sure you provide seating and tables that are as sturdy as possible. The big Oktoberfest festival in Munich, Germany, is famous for dancing, singing and bustling about, around, over and on top of all surfaces. In the event that your party gets a fraction as rowdy as the real festival, you’re definitely going to need stability over aesthetics.
- PARTY TIP: This one is worth repeating. The sturdier the table and chairs, the better (and safer) your party will be!
You can still have a nice-looking setup at your Oktoberfest party, despite the “sturdy” table and chair situation. One of the easiest ways to make your tables look pristine is to cover them with tablecloths. A white and blue checkered pattern is quite common throughout the festival, so consider using that pattern on your tablecloths, party napkins, streamers and other décor. The blue and yellow combination is also in abundance during the two-week-long celebration in Munich, so that particular color scheme is also a fine choice.
- PARTY TIP: Your tablecloths and décor will be spilled on, especially since most of the food is eaten with your fingers. Try not to use any cloth favorites when covering the main eating tables.
Any traditional German food is applicable at an Oktoberfest party. The most traditional foods, however, are roasted duck, chicken, sausage and bratwurst. Be sure to serve up whatever dish you choose with plenty of vegetables. The celebration isn’t all about the main course, though. Other typical Bavarian treats include German pastries, like Mohrenkopf, and, of course, fresh pretzels. Big cookie necklaces adorned with red-frosted names and affections are another German favorite, though these are as much for show as they are for nourishment. If your Oktoberfest party guest list is reasonable, consider giving each participant a cookie necklace with his or her name (or, for more fun, nickname!) written in icing.
- PARTY TIP: If you don’t think you can handle all those cookies, then consider giving pretzel necklaces. Simply string small pretzels around a piece of yarn, long enough to dangle loosely from each recipient’s neck. Guests can take a bite whenever they please.
At last, the good part! What’s an Oktoberfest celebration without Germany’s finest ales? In order to be considered a true Oktoberfest beer, the beer must have been produced in Munich, Germany. There are six different breweries in Munich that produce beer for the festival, and there are usually upwards of 30 different types of brews from which to choose. Since your party won’t be within the German city’s limits, we suggest incorporating plenty of leeway on the Munich-brewed rule. As long as there is beer at your party, guests will be happy.
- PARTY TIP: If you want to be as true to the Oktoberfest experience as possible, make a few German beers available, such as Hofbräuhaus, Augustiner and Hacker, all of which should be available at your nearest beverage depot store (and all of which you can sample at your own beer tasting party beforehand!).
While most Oktoberfest parties have some variation of the traditional polka-like music, chances are you guests would appreciate a nice mix of popular music with the occasional traditional song. As the party is getting started, ease guests into the spirit of the festival with Ein Prost, inviting guests to (attempt to) sing along. From there, mix and match German songs with whatever you and your crowd like best.
- PARTY TIP: Provide printed out or displayed lyrics to the most popular German drinking songs so guests can try to participate in the fun.
For more tips and tricks on how to host an Oktoberfest party, visit our Oktoberfest Pinterest board.
Denise is an Event Planner at BG Events & Catering.