It is so fun and easy to plan an Oktoberfest party at home with the right knowledge, props, ingredients, and foods.
In the fall, everyone (I know) is talking about Oktoberfest. Since not everyone can actually go to the real Oktoberfest in Munich, planning an Oktoberfest party at home is such a fun and affordable alternative.
In this guide, I am sharing fun facts to know about Oktoberfest, what to plan, how to decorate, and most of all, top tips for the food you need for your own Oktoberfest party.
What is Oktoberfest?
According to Wikipedia, Oktoberfest is the largest Volksfest in the world with millions of visitors every year. It is famous for its beer tents, Oktoberfest foods, and more than 7 million litres of beer that people consume there.
In this video, you can see how we often like to celebrate Oktoberfest in California and why we think it’s just as good or better than the real thing.
Why does Oktoberfest start in September?
You can read more about the 200+ year history of Oktoberfest here. In short, the very first Oktoberfest was indeed celebrated on October 12, 1810. Since then, it has been expanded into a 2-week affair that starts in September but typically runs through the first Sunday in October. Depending on when that falls, that determines the start date of Oktoberfest.
When to plan your Oktoberfest party at home?
I like to plan so planning something like this early would be natural for me. However, two weeks should be plenty of time to plan your Oktoberfest celebrations. You can work on your guest list and send our Oktoberfest invitations.
When would you host your Oktoberfest party? Well, while it is called Oktoberfest, you can perfectly be in synch with the real thing and check their dates. However, late September to early October is definitely always appropriate.
What to wear for your Oktoberfest party?
Of course, you can wear whatever you want and a dress code can sound kind of strict (even though, Germans love rules, haha)! Did you know that up until the 1990s, most visitors to the Munich Oktoberfest did not even wear traditional attire? Donning Dirndl dresses and Lederhosen has definitely only become trendy in the last 20 years or so.
Having said that, I think it is super fun to own and wear a real Dirndl dress. Once you have one, you can even wear it as a Halloween costume. An authentic, quality Dirndl can cost you some money (I love Rare Dirndl since they are fun and made in the US). Alternatively, you can make your own or find a more inexpensive one.
The same goes for Lederhosen. My husband has had his pair of brown lederhosen for close to 15 years and wears them a few times each year. Now I admit, that we bought them in Germany where they were very fairly priced. Here, in the US you can find them in all sorts of price ranges. Even if you don’t want to invest in leather trousers, a checkered shirt will go a long way.
Depending on your level of commitment to German culture and traditions, you might like to invest in more accessories. There is so much traditional jewelry, hats, purses, jackets, socks, shoes, and other traditional garb that one can acquire over time.
Fun Oktoberfest party ideas: Props and Decorations
Setting the stage for your Oktoberfest party might be the most important element of your Oktoberfest festivities.
Whether you are hosting your Oktoberfest party in your own backyard or in your home, a tablecloth in the blue-white Bavarian color schemes is a great start. You can invest in real cloth and sew your own. If you find a disposable one you will not worry about any stains or spills.
I see more and more people bringing their own beer mugs to Oktoberfests in the United States. They make great collectors’ items with a real function. Or you invest in some new ones. However, any simple drinking glasses will work as well.
Other Oktoberfest decorations:
Depending on the size of your festivities, your budget, and the number of guests, you can get some Oktoberfest bunting, and Bavarian flags, even rent large tents, hire a German band, or set up an Oktoberfest photo booth. Maybe you’d like to decorate with the colors of the German flag (red, gold/yellow, black). You see, there are so many great ideas for your Oktoberfest event.
Traditional German Food for your Oktoberfest Party
Here are some traditional German foods for your Oktoberfest menu:
- Schnitzel: who doesn’t love a good schnitzel? They are very easy to make at home and you can even make them ahead of time.
- Potato salad: a classic German potato salad is always a crowd-pleaser and easy to make in advance
- Fried sauerkraut: this is another original Oktoberfest food that is a must
- Sausages: Germans love your sausages, whether they are white, red, Brats, Franks, or Wieners, and all of them are appropriate for your authentic Oktoberfest celebration
- Mustards: if you’re serving sausages, you will want to offer a variety of mustards, especially some sweet mustards for your white sausages
- Pretzels: whether you bake your own pretzels, buy them, or get some snack pretzels, they are definitely a must for your Oktoberfest party at home
- Beer cheese dip: also called Obatzda, this is what Germans eat with their pretzels
- Chicken: any roast chicken, whole or pieces, is another typical beer garden food
- Apple strudel: this is another classic Oktoberfest food that is easy to make at home
- Poppy seed cake: this dessert would be another great idea for your Oktoberfest menu
Oktoberfest Party Drinks
Somehow, Oktoberfest seems to be synonymous with beer – so much beer. This hop-based drink is such an important part of German culture that you would not want to miss it. Here are some thoughts:
- Beer: In the US, you can find many authentic German beer brands and Oktoberfest brews but you can really serve any beer you like. Whether you find a keg or use beer bottles, both are a great way to celebrate your Oktoberfest party.
- Non-alcoholic beer: For those not drinking, there are a number of good non-alcoholic alternatives to Oktoberfest beer.
- Sparkling water: This is another great choice and you can offer plain or flavored.
- Soft drinks: Germans love their sparkling lemonades such as “Fanta” or “Sprite”.
- Radler: If you have been to Germany you might have seen these drinks called “Radler”: essentially they are beer and sparking lemonade mixed 1:1. Sometimes, I can even find them in the US.
- Wine: Not everyone likes beer so wines, especially white wines are another good idea for your Oktoberfest party.
Music for your Oktoberfest Party
Any good party needs music! Choosing the right music will create an authentic feel for your best Oktoberfest party. These days, at Munich’s Oktoberfest, you will often hear quieter, traditional music (“Oompah” music) until 6 pm. After that, you often hear louder, more party-type music Here are some ideas for your Oktoberfest music:
- You can buy a CD or DVD with traditional Oktoberfest music
- How about an MP3 download?
- If you have a Spotify account, you can find a great playlist there
- Youtube also has some playlists such as this one or this one
- If you have the budget for it, you can even hire a local band to play live music for an authentic German festival
- If all else fails, you can always play your own favorite music and you will still have a wonderful time
Best places to find Everything for your Backyard Oktoberfest
Here is a definitely incomplete list of places where you can find traditional Oktoberfest foods, drinks, and accessories:
- Aldi: often has German week with many imported German foods and drinks
- Trader Joe’s: with its German roots you can find frozen pretzels, desserts, and Oktoberfest brews here
- Beverages & More: here you will find an even greater selection of traditional Oktoberfest beers
- Amazon: this could be a one-stop shop for all your Oktoberfest needs, including whole Oktoberfest party kits
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