Narrow down your theme before getting too far into your planning. This will really help you focus your party planning and keep you from going insane.
Maybe there's a certain country or continent that you want to highlight. For example, you could have a Spain-flavored party with Spanish music, bullfighting videos on the TV, and a wide selection of tapas to feed your guests.
Or maybe you want to take your guests on an "Around the World in 80 Minutes" sort of virtual country-hopping trip, with music, food, and entertainment from around the world.
If you have a circle of friends who are from different ethnic backgrounds or are inventive foodies, you can make it a potluck. Everyone bringing a dish that reflects their favorite country and you as the host fill in the gaps as needed to ensure a full meal for everyone.
Whatever you chose, make it fun and make it doable. The last thing you want is to be slaving for weeks planning your party just to spend the whole evening over the stove, making deep-fried Beignet to order.
This sort of themed party requires some research. Look online for inspiration, including colors, pictures, textures, history, etc. You'll also want to look into decorations, food, and beverages that really represent the country or region you want to focus on.
A great source of inspiration will be a local ethnic restaurant or café. Their menus can give you an idea of popular dishes that are served every day in the country. They can also help you source hard-to-find ingredients or point you in the direction of a store that specializes in importing items from your country of interest.
When you do into such specialty stores, don't just make it a "dash and grab" sort of invasion. Rather, take your time looking through the place. Read cans and bottles, ask questions, and really get to know the culture and foods of the area. Make friend with the shop owner – they could be a great source of information and items.
You can either make your own or buy an already made invitation from a local store or online company.
Some suggestions for homemade invitations include:
A fake travel flier proclaiming a free "trip around the world"
A paper copy of your country's flag with all of your party information on the back
A passport look-alike
Either way you go, make sure your invitation includes the basic information like place, time, theme, attire, and the type of meal (e.g. - potluck, appetizers or dessert only, or a full meal).
If you want to do a food-centric party, then don't overdue the decorations – put up posters and a map, collect some travel brochures, and toss up some streamers that are the color of the country's flag, and you're done.
But if you really want to go all out, the sky is the limit. If you are doing an Around the World thing, you might want to br
eak up different parts of the room or house, decorating each area for a different country.
Use your research as inspiration when you head out to the party supply store. Don't forget about colors and textures as you pick out streamers, tablecloths, plates, and wall decorations.
One great tip is to use maps of your region as tablecloth. This gives your guests something to talk about and can cover even the worst multi-purpose tables.
There are all sorts of things you can do for favors for a travel-themed party, including:
Little travel bags with inexpensive trinkets and a disposable camera.
Itineraries that explain the country/countries that you are visiting at this party, the different food on the menu, and your selection of wine.
A passport that includes the recipes that you used for the meal.
Look for music with an international flare. For example, mariachi music from Mexico, a French Waltz from Paris, or bagpipe folk songs from Scotland. You can find many of these online, some for free and some for a small charge – check iTunes or Amazon music for a good selection. If you want an actual CD to load into your stereo system, check your local library or music store for a limited selection.
There are a few options available when you plan the food for your international travel-themed party:
Buffet-style, either catered or home cooked.
Potluck with your guests provide the food and you fill in the holes as needed
Multi-course meal where one course leads into another.
Appetizers only with each tapas and drink reflecting a different country.
Dessert only where you have a wide selection of desserts from different countries.
You can find recipes and food ideas online and in magazines and cookbooks. A great wealth of information will be your local library – they probably have at least one cookbook that you can peruse for free.
Another great source of food information is your local ethnic store. Just walking through the aisles, smelling the different smells, enjoying the different sights, could really get your creativity going.
Costume Party – Ask your guests to come in a costume that reflects the country or region your party focuses on.
Where am I from? – A variation of the "Who am I?" game, place a sticker on each guest's back as they enter, and then they run around, asking people questions to narrow down their guess of what name is on their back. As they guess correctly, they can continue the game by picking up a new sticker.
What Flag is This? – Decorate your room with different country flags and have guests guess which country belongs to it. You can really mess them up by adding a few designs of your own.
Tell Me A Story - If your guests have traveled a lot, have them tell their favorite travel story. Give a prize for the best one.
Game Night - Have games from all over the world for your guests to try out.