How to Host an Oktoberfest Party
What is Oktoberfest?
Each year, millions of people eagerly anticipate the short phrase signifying the tapping of the first beer keg and Oktoberfest's official opening. Celebrating Oktoberfest in Munich, the event's birthplace, would be the feather in one's tirolerhüt, the typical Oktoberfest headwear, but jetting to Germany isn't feasible for most people. Fortunately, you can easily enjoy this annual autumn festival in your own home.
A unique spirit infuses Oktoberfest, and that spirit flourishes with the celebration of good food, great beer and boisterous fun. Although the type of festivities differ from the first Oktoberfest, the festive aspect hasn't changed since the 1810 wedding of Germany's Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Theresa of Hildburghausen, which became the world's first Oktoberfest party. The original party takes place each year beginning the first Saturday following September 15th and ending, usually, the first Sunday in October. It's a good thing the event has changed: During its first years, the 'fest revolved around Olympic-style horse racing. Today, few people could host a party that involves horses.
Planning an Oktoberfest Party
You don't need horses, a wedding or a German background to host an Oktoberfest party. The right food and drink and a healthy dose of "prost" bring the cheerful spirit of the party into your home. Check out our selection of Oktoberfest Glassware.
Rustic, generous and flavorful best describe authentic Oktoberfest food. Refined elegance has its place, but it certainly doesn't suit a beer hall atmosphere. In true Oktoberfest fashion, and for ease of hosting, keep your party simple by letting guests serve themselves; a buffet suits the beer hall atmosphere you're aiming for.
Endless variations of meat and potatoes feature prominently on Oktoberfest menus; however, you won't be feeding the 7 million celebrants in Munich, so a few traditional staples will suffice.
Traditional Oktoberfest Food
Red cabbage salad
Wurst (bratwurst, knackwurst, weisswurst)
roast pork shank
Rouladen (a stuffed meat roll)
Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies)
Kaiserschmarren (a sweet pancake dessert served warm)
Germany is famed for its beer, and it's difficult to imagine Oktoberfest without the gorgeous amber nectar. Munich places strict requirements on the beer served at its festival: The beer must be brewed in Munich and adhere to the Bavarian Purity Requirements. Only six breweries meet these requirements. If your aim is authenticity, serve your guests brews by Augustiner, Hacker Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner or Spaten. You needn't be particular, though, as many U.S. breweries craft excellent Oktoberfest-style beers.
As with food, set the beer up for self-service: Keeping beer in metal tubs filled with ice suits the rustic, fun mood. Also, have fun with the glassware in which to drink the beer. True festival goers typically order an Oktoberfest Beer Mug or masskrug / mass, which is beer served in a one-liter glass (33 ounces). Choose the Hofbrauhaus One Liter Beer Mug or a Beer Boot for guests who prefer to drink Bavarian style: one liter each hour. The Germany Beer Stein and Deutschland Stein provide old world charm, and the Willybecher Glass Set gives guests an unobstructed view of their amber gold.
When you host an Oktoberfest party, remember the most important factor of a jolly, welcoming evening of camaraderie. Although food and drink are integral to an Oktoberfest celebration, the enjoyable spirit of the party is what guests will truly bask in and take home.