One need not venture all the way to the motherland Munich, or even down to the neighborhood watering hole, to partake in some Deutsch debauchery comprised of bretzels, Volksmusik, and, of course, crushing liters of beer from das boot. Oktoberfest is a great excuse to plan a drinking party, and once you've mustered up the Mut to take on tending your very own biergarten, the on-theme essentials are pretty straightforward: Bavarian paraphernalia, hearty wurst-centric nosh, and plenty of beer. Here's a list of tips for how to host your own Oktoberfest party.
There are a few routes you can take when planning your Oktoberfest fete. You can keep it traditional with Bavarian blue and white checked decor and Oom-pah folk music. Define the dress code in your invitations, and make your guests don dirndls and lederhosen before they're given their first pour. If you're more keen on a simple approach and are really about the bier, you can cut to the chase and make your German get-together a (highly-decorated and on-theme) beer tasting session. Sites like Etsy showcase a wide variety of Oktoberfest-appropriate decor and accessories for purchase. A few DIY tricks like stein-centerpieces and pretzel-necklaces add a final touch and some festival flair. So without further ado, get to your party planning so you can have your first Prost! Viel Glück!
1. Willkommen Your Guests
When guests arrive to your Volksfest, welcome them with German titles like "Herr" for the gentlemen and "Fraulein" for the ladies ("Frau" if they're married). You can even underscore the effect with the self-adhesive name tags that typically forebode awkward mingling — though obviously not in this case, mein Freund. While you may not have a large enough backyard (and may not have a backyard at all) to pitch a beer tent in true Wiesn fashion, skillfully placed signage can easily communicate to guests that they've come to the right place. Transform the surroundings into a homemade Hippodrome with this Biergarten sign from Etsy, or a couple others that exclaim "Willkommen" or "Prost!"
2. Deck The Beer Hall
The options are endless for decorating your Bierhaus. A no-sweat approach is making sure the majority of party supplies are in white and light blue, the official colors of the traditional Bavarian flag. Opt for solid colors or diamond check for plates, table runners, and balloons. This burlap banner from Etsy adds some rustic charm, and addresses any lingering questions regarding the party's theme. Paper pretzel bunting in white and blue or made from actual pretzel crackers are a simple (and possibly delectable) DIY project. If there's a buffet spread of sorts, or guests are gathering for a beer tasting, create a table centerpiece from an oversized stein filled with flowers. Pro Tip: First fill the stein with amber or yellow marbles, then top it off with white blossoms to recreate a beautiful brew effect.
Achieve some "authentic" ambiance with a celebration soundtrack suitable for the actual Munich festivities. The usual suspects of the Volksfest are Bavarian folk songs intermixed with German pop music and punctuated by outbursts of internationally popular crowd-pleasers like "Sweet Caroline," "Country Roads," and "Hey Baby (If You'll Be My Girl)." When these hits come on, one fist is for the stein of Paulaner, the other for pumping. Check out the many Oktoberfest playlists on the Internet, and find one that prescribes your party with the right dosage of each genre.
4. All About The Bier
It simply isn't an Oktoberfest party without beer, so while it appears fourth on the list, it really should be a number one priority.
There are a couple ways to curate the brews for your bash. To be truly authentic, you should stick to an offering from the original six Munich breweries: Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu. Some of these are harder to come by outside of Germany, but they are the only six that pass the Reinheitsgebot, or "purity" law passed in 1516, and thus the only bier you'll find at the actual Oktoberfest. Otherwise, there are some less traditional options from non-German breweries with "Oktoberfest" specialties, like Sam Adams' ever popular Märzen rendition, Brooklyn's take that uses Munich malt and hops, or German-themed Texas-born Shiner.
Beer Tasting Table
Once you've decided on what brew everyone will be downing, make sure they do so in style. Have large steins on hand for guests to guzzle. These Oktoberfest-worthy steins are available on Etsy, and even come with a Biergarten sign so that even after stein number zwei (or drei), there's no confusion about where they are.
If you're sticking to "bottle service," why not customize them with these printouts from Etsy?
5. Guten Appetit!
Even the best beer drinkers can't make it through the drinking demands of Oktoberfest without a little Bavarian fare in their bellies. Serve up an assortment of bretzels for guests to enjoy on breaks between stein pourings, or cook up some heartier dishes with Bavarian flavor. Hand out homemade pretzel necklaces upon entry so guests can snack while they swig, and be well-accessorized while they trinken.
6. Say "Kase!"
Give your guests the opportunity to take a München memento home with them. Set up a photo-booth complete with these Oktoberfest cutouts from Etsy, so the memories last even after a long day of Prost!-ing.