It’s that time of year again. As the seasons change and pumpkin spice permeates every aspect of our lives, our friends in Germany are gearing up for the biggest festival of the year. Oktoberfest is a grand occasion to raise your steins to good food and better beer. For those of us not lucky enough to be celebrating Oktoberfest in Munich, there’s no reason to miss out on the fun. Hosting your own Oktoberfest party is a fun and festive way to kick of the fall season with friends. With a few details and a lot of beer, you can host an cheers-worthy Oktoberfest. Prost!
1. Get in the Munich Mind Set
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival. More than 6 million people from around the world attend the annual festival in Munich, Germany. A tradition since 1810, Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture. While your backyard Oktoberfest may not have the hundreds of vendors or amusement rides, there’s no reason to shy away from celebrating the quintessential German holiday.
2. Dress the Part
If you want to truly dress the part of Oktoberfest, look no further than a traditional lederhosen or dirndl. German for leather breeches, lederhosen are abundantly worn at the classic Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. If you want your Oktoberfest to feel über authentic or simply want a reason to wear leather pants, lederhosen are a must have for the men. For the ladies, opt for a dirnil style dress, a la the St. Pauli girl. If you, like us, lack a pair of vintage lederhosen, you can opt for a this authentic version that would make Munich proud, or this version for those festin’ on a budget. If you decide that your party budget is better spent on libations than costumes, opt for khaki shorts, a checkered shirt, and suspenders to give the general air of Oktoberfest to your gathering.
Few things declare Oktoberfest more than a well stocked and decorated biergarten. Traditionally, a biergarten, or beer garden, is an outdoor area where beer and food are served. These are abundant in Germany, and for good reason. Biergartens provide a cozy ambience with their long picnic style tables and outdoor lighting. To create your own biergarten, incorporate the official colors of the Bavarian flag, blue and white. Signs, streamers, plate wear, and wreaths all add an air of festivity and authenticity to your Oktoberfest biergarten. There’s no shortage of festive decoration ideas for your backyard Oktoberfest, including this cute banner or using beer steins as makeshift vases. Your biergarten should be a place that your guests can gather to enjoy the food, drink, and company that you have provided for the evening.
When you think Oktoberfest, you think beer. And rightfully so! The Germans know how to brew some of the best. For your Oktoberfest party, stick to traditional German beers commonly served at Oktoberfest. These include brews by Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Löwenbräu, and Spatenbräu, Paulaner, Augustiner, and Hofbräu, among others. If you want to really dive into the world of German beers, check out this handy guide. Once you have your beer list finalized, consider ditching the red solo cups for some authentic beer steins. Nothing elevates a German beer like drinking it out of an authentic stein. Plus, when the party is winding down, your guests can take their steins home to remember all the good times they had at your Oktoberfest.
5. Pretzels and Schnitzel and Bratwurst, Oh My!
Food at Oktoberfest is so much more than the expected fare of sausage and pretzels.
Ask anyone who has attended Oktoberfest, and they’ll tell you that the smell of roasted chicken fills the whole fest with the aroma of juicy goodness. It is common to dine on an entire meal when attending Oktoberfest, and there is no shortage of choices. Main dishes typically include a variety of sausages such as bratwurst, knackwurst, and thüringer, German potato salad, sauerkraut, red cabbage, käsespätzle (delicious cheese noodles), boiled potatoes, and roasted chicken. While you don’t need to worry about preparing all of this for your Oktoberfest gathering, choosing a few tried and true German specialties will be sure to satisfy your guests.
6. Play That Funky Musik
With a culture as rich as Germany’s, it’s no surprise that Oktoberfest comes with it’s own set of musical traditions. While these classic Oktoberfest tunes are not the only songs played in Munich, they will definitely add a sense of authenticity to your party.
- Fliegerlied. This festive tune comes with it’s very own set of dance moves, so find an elevated surface and dance along with your guests. Teach them the steps as you go, and encourage everyone to dance along.
- The golden rule of any authentic Oktoberfest party: play “Ein Prosit” every half hour, just like they do in Munich. Guests are encouraged to stand up, raise their glasses, and sing along when the song is played. At the end of the song, everyone cheers and takes a drink. For more musical inspiration, check out this Oktoberfest playlist.
7. Game Face
Oktoberfest in Munich is filled with amusement park style rides and games. While nobody expects you to erect a rollercoaster in your backyard, a few low-key games can keep the party flowing and guests engaged. Some classics to include in your Oktoberfest include: Stein Races, Stein Holding Contest, Beer Drinking Contest. Check out this site for more details on how to play these games.
Not in the mood to play hostess but still want to experience Oktoberfest on your own turf? Check out this handy list of major Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the US.