Hosting an Around the World Party

By Nikki Bogopolskaya , last updated February 4, 2011

Hosting an Around the World party is a wonderful way to mix casual and formal themes. More relaxed than a sit-down dinner party and more organized than a simple bar-and-snack setup, the Around the World party is a perfect chance to mingle with new friends or re-connect with old ones. This type of bash is the perfect way to entertain guests any time of year. Although it requires quite a bit of planning and setup on the part of the host, it surely guarantees a fantastic fete.

The Theme

The Around the World party is exactly what it sounds like: A celebration of cultures around the world, in the form of food and drinks. Part potluck and part theme party, this party allows guests to collaborate in the planning process. When hosting this type of affair, keep in mind the backgrounds and nationalities of your guests. Although it is not necessary to accommodate their cultures, guests' contributions will surely be more valuable if they come from a familiar place. For a standard Around the World party, you should have 3-5 countries, or stations. Plan the stations in advance, and remember that the ones that are often the most successful are the stations that have a distinct traditional food and drink pairing. China, Japan, Russia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Mexico and India are fun options to explore, however, with some research, you can get considerably more creative with your station selection.

The Plan

Several weeks before hosting an Around the World party, mail or e-mail your guests your invite and a request. We recommend using a map-themed invitation or postcards from the locations you will be celebrating. List the regions you select, and in addition to an RSVP, ask everyone to bring a dish from the corresponding nations. Note that you will take care of the drinks and main courses. Once you know how many guests to plan for, decide how you would like to set up. For a large bash, divide your home or venue up by room or section. For a smaller get-together, simply set up stations in a centrally-located area. Depending on the scale of the party, purchase the appropriate decor. Countries' flags can be ordered online for less than $5, and are an easy way to liven up the party space. Large posters or blow-up photos of the regions can be used to accessorize as well.

Food and Drink

These will vary largely with the countries you select, however, some simple choices are:

  • China: Pork dumplings and beer (try to purchase an authentic beer such as Tsingtao from a local specialty shop)
  • Japan: Sushi rolls and hot sake (purchase sake cold and microwave before serving)
  • Russia: Stew and vodka (Stolichnaya is a popular Russian vodka of choice; provide soda water, cranberry juice, and lemon wedges for mixers)
  • Greece: Stuffed grape leaves and ouzo (a strong, sparkling wine, ouzo can be purchased at most liquor stores)
  • Italy: Pasta dish of choice and red wine (lasagna, spaghetti with red sauce, and gnocchi are popular and easy-to-make choices)
  • Spain: Paella and sangria (paella can be vegetarian or contain seafood, and sangria is easy to make with red or white wine and fruit)
  • Mexico: DIY tacos and margaritas (arrange taco ingredients such as lettuce, tomato, meats, and sauces to allow your guests to create their own dish)

An Around the World party begs for costumes, so be sure to encourage guests to represent their home or favorite regions. Create a playlist of current hits as well as traditional jams from the countries you select to present, and eat, drink, and dance the night away!

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