Dinner parties can be a ton of fun. They're a chance to show off your culinary skills, introduce friends to one another and have some time away from kids and jobs. While the conversation often flows effortlessly, it might occasionally get stalled. You can give things a push by having a few dinner party cooking games up your sleeve. Not sure where to start? We've got five ideas for you, and it doesn't matter if your guest list is filled with foodies or not.
Ready for a challenge?
Mystery Taste Test
Food and wine aficionados likely love this game, but the uninitiated can also have fun giving it a shot: a blindfolded wine tasting. Why the blindfold? According to the Web site Wine Guppy, even looking at a label can tell you something about the wine in question, and the goal is to determine everything you can from taste alone. After the wine is taken away, take off your blindfolds and write down your findings. Have a bit of bread to cleanse your palate, and then move on to the next one. Once all the choices are tasted, reveal all the wines and have everyone compare notes.
An alternate version of this game is to guess the mystery ingredients in a cooked dish. Those with a refined palette will love trying to suss out all the subtle nuances in a dish, all the way down to the oils and spices.
Do you have a well-stocked bar? Then the challenges on the next page will be right up your alley.
Cocktails are a lovely way to get a dinner party going. Make your happy hour even more entertaining by turning it into a game. Divide guests into teams; a judge will call out the name of a cocktail, and one player from each team will race to see who can make the best version. Or, as the party planning Web site Punch Bowl suggests, you can have your guests invent new cocktails, with everyone voting for the best (and worst) -- and, of course, suggesting names for the new drinks.
If you prefer brews to cocktails, don't feel left out; challenge your drinkers to open a pry-top bottle with something other than a bottle opener. Just be sure to put anything irreplaceable out of reach.
Read on to find out how your kitchen can look like a class at Le Cordon Bleu!
Culinary Skills Throwdown
If you're cooking the meal but also want some help in the kitchen, there are ways to turn your request for assistance into a fun challenge. For example, have your guests compete to see who can chop vegetables or grate cheese the fastest. Award points for style; take away points for making a mess (and be sure to use sharp knives to lessen the chance of injury).
Another good challenge is the saucepan flip. If crepes, pancakes, omelets or something sauteed is on the menu, test your chefs on their ability to do a smooth flip. Of course, this has the potential to end with food everywhere but the plate, so be sure to have extra ingredients on hand, or lower the stakes a bit by having participants try with something like bread cubes in a cool pan.
If your guests can chop, grate and flip like pros, see how long they can keep their cool during the next challenge.
Turn Up the Heat
This activity -- chile pepper chowdown -- is not for the faint of heart. Whether your players are spice aficionados or adventurous newbies, this game will test their tender tongues.
In one variation, see who can eat the largest amount of a particular spicy food, like jalapenos. To ensure that no one overdoes it, make sure you set a short time limit, like 30 to 60 seconds. The second variation is more of an endurance challenge: Each participant samples chiles, curries or other notoriously zesty edibles, starting with the mildest and working up to the spiciest. Whoever makes it through the most samples without taking a drink -- or giving up entirely -- is the winner.
Just be sure to have milk, bread and antacids on standby; your contestants will definitely need something to extinguish the flame!
Iron Chef Battle
Bring the action of TV shows like "Iron Chef" and "Chopped" to your own kitchen! To get started, put together a group of ingredients and have your contestants invent a dish or meal using all of them. You can divide into teams and grade one another's efforts, or select a few guests to act as judges while the rest cook.
If your kitchen is too cramped to pull off an on-the-spot competition, have a potluck-style challenge with your guests. About 48 hours before the party, notify everyone of the secret ingredient that he or she should incorporate into a dish. That will give guests time to whip something up in the comfort of their own kitchens for bringing to the party. The results may turn out to be culinary genius!
Now it's time to stock your kitchen pantry and bar and send out your invites. With these fun game ideas, you'll be all set to throw a memorable and entertaining dinner party.
In order to have a party, you first need to invite some guests. Here is a great way to personalize and hand-deliver your dinner party invitations.
- Bambas, Lisl Richards. "What's Hot is Hot! Scoville Heat Unit Scale." Epicurean. (July 21, 2011) http://www.epicurean.com/articles/hot-peppers.html
- Bar None. "Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipes." (July 19, 2011) http://www.barnonedrinks.com/drinks/by_category/non-alcoholic-3/
- Christensen, Emma. "Kitchen Safety: Why a Sharp Knife Leads to Fewer Injuries." The Kitchn. June 30, 2011. (July 14, 2011) http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/tips-techniques/kitchen-safety-why-a-sharp-knife-leads-to-fewer-injuries-gourmet-live-150287
- Divine Dinner Party. "Dinner Party Cooking Games to Play at Your Next Party." (July 10, 2011) http://www.divinedinnerparty.com/dinner-party-cooking-games.html
- Dutton, Melissa Kossler. "'Iron Chef' comes to dinner parties." AZ Central. Feb. 6, 2008. (July 12, 2011) http://www.azcentral.com/style/hfe/food/articles/2008/02/06/20080206ironchef0206.html
- Punch Bowl. "Cocktail Party Games." (July 12, 2011) http://www.punchbowl.com/p/cocktail-party-games
- Salkeld, Lauren. "Menu Planning Tips." Epicurious. (July 19, 2011) http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/entertaining/partiesevents/menuplanning
- Wine Guppy. "How to Host a Blind Wine Tasting Party." (July 9, 2011) http://blog.wineguppy.com/learning-wine-information/how-to-host-a-blind-wine-tasting-party/