Your engagement party doesn’t require a theme, but having one can be a lot of fun. Choose one that says something about who you are together, as a couple, and you’ll have a blast planning it, living it, and remembering it for years to come.
-This piece originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.
Plan a travel-themed party with eats, drinks, and decorative features from your top five favorite (or dream!) destinations, like a taco and tequila beach bar in one corner and Bellinis and cured Italian meats and cheeses in another. Tie the theme together with paper airplane invites, globe centerpieces, and a wall map of the world where guests can pin their honeymoon recommendations.
Throw the kind of party you would have loved as a kid: packed with games and yummy treats! Consider including a treasure hunt, a piñata, cookie decorating, a ring toss, a putting green, and a guessing jar (with an adult giveaway like a case of wine). Serve souped-up versions of your childhood favorites: truffle mac & cheese, sliders with Gruyere and mushrooms, and pb&j cupcakes.
Host a culinary journey at one of your favorite restaurants. Work with the staff to craft a special tasting menu, so guests can sample all the dishes you’ve been raving about. If brunch is the most important meal of your day, there’s no reason your dinner party can’t be a “brunch” party, complete with lemon-blueberry pancakes and mimosas.
Rent a small gallery space and have an exclusive, one-night-only opening. You can go for an upscale vibe with a wine and cheese spread, or something more hipster-chic with craft beer, Korean barbecue tacos, kale-quinoa salad, and whiskey chocolate cake in mini mason jars.
Put the kettle on and pop the bubbly for a tipsy garden tea party! Bring on the scones with jam and cream, traditional tea sandwiches, bite-size cakes and cookies, and stick “eat me” and “take me” signs in some of the treats. Set up a few lawn games like croquet and bocce balls amidst the blooms and ask everyone to wear white.
Set up a celebratory camp (with paper bag luminaries, loads of blankets, and a campfire) atop a cliff, at a local campground, or on the beach. Go on a group nature walk, enjoy picnic-style eats like ham and brie on baguette and caprese pasta salad as you watch the sun set, then make s’mores, tell stories, and sing songs beneath the stars (hire someone to play guitar if none of your guests do).
Can’t wait to get domestic? Then don’t! Host a Thanksgiving-style dinner party, and load on the comfort foods. Seat everyone at one large table, even if it means cobbling together smaller tables and a few mismatched chairs. Dress your table with fall colors, and be sure to serve warm apple pie (what’s homier?) for dessert.
Both baseball and engagements involve diamonds, so that’s a perfect tie-in, but you could also have an engagement tailgate with a fully loaded burger bar, beer on ice, and a color palette borrowed from your favorite team. Have your guests wear their teams’ jerseys and caps to spark a little friendly rivalry.
Pick a genre and style your party accordingly. Love country? Have a cowboy-chic party complete with line dancing … encourage guests to wear appropriate attire! Jazz is where it’s at? Hire a jazz trio, serve swanky cocktails, send art deco invites, and use feathers and pearls in your décor.