Want to have an intergalactic night of fun, quality time with a bunch of great people and enjoy a cuisine from the far end of the universe? Then perhaps you should throw a ‘Milky Way Takeaway’ dinner party. That’s what I did last weekend anyway. Or what we did, I should say. This was the second theme dinner Joran and I organised, the first one being Circus of Illusions. And I am pretty sure there are many more to come. But for now, I will tell you how to organise your very own MilkyWay Takeaway dinner.
1. Send paper invites
Yes, you can email your friends, text them, app them or make a Facebook event to invite them to your super awesome theme dinner. But in the end we all love getting real mail. Not bills or boring letters with printed signatures, but utterly awesome real mail from real persons. By sending paper invitations, you are setting the stage for how great the night is going to be. It builds some expectation: putting effort in making something small like the invitation more fun and personal, also encourages your guests to be creative and take their cooking skills and outfit to the next level.
2. Dress up in theme
Of course you cannot organise a Milky Way Takeaway dinner party without dressing up in theme. Work with what you’ve got. I turned a sequin dress that I had in my closet into a space outfit. You see those shoulder sleeves (not sure if they even have a name)? That would be the result of a last minute craft exercise. I cut out some cardboard, glued aluminum foil to it and used duct tape to stick it to my dress. Add a pink wig and a storyline and suddenly I am an intergalactic creature from the planet Vortina. By using items you already have and adding some minor details, you can get a long way.
3. Prepare extraordinary cocktails
Apparently molecular cooking is a hot item. The good thing: you can buy molecular cocktail kits on the Internet and create amazingly weird drinks with them. We basically turned liquor into gel balls that splat in your mouth. Because we served them in a sparkling drink, the bubbles would attach themselves to these balls. After a while there would be so many bubbles that the blue liquor balls started floating in their glass.
4. Ask every guest to bring a dish in theme
For our dinner parties, we invite 6 people, which means we are with a total of 8. That’s the exact amount that fits at the table (which actually is a windowsill bench most of the time). The fun part is that your guests will be invited to get creative themselves too. They each bring one course, and are completely free to interpret the theme in whatever way they want to. That gives around 6 to 8 courses, depending on if you count ‘drinks’ as a separate course and if the main course is prepared by one or two guests. The fun thing is, that people really do rise up to the challenge. Literally everyone who came made something special and fun. If you present people a creative challenge and create the circumstances for them to flourish, they will come up with incredible things.
To give you an example: the amuses were presented on a lego space (takeaway) restaurant. But it didn’t end there. Everyone got their own space craft that functioned as a plate. You had to ‘fly’ with your spaceship to the tower to pick up your snack. I can’t properly describe to you what the effect is of a table full of grown-ups playing with lego, zooming through the air with their arms to collect their food. I can tell you it was good. And that was just one course.
There was soup that turned dark green to blue-ish when you stirred it, food collected from different planets around the universe, and I am pretty sure I ate a dwarf.
5. Assemble a menu
Ask your guests to come up with a name for their course and a short description. This will help to make vague ideas concrete. Make a menu and print it, so you will have an interesting guide to help you through the evening and spark curiosity about what is coming next. Even if the graphics aren’t going to win a design contest (because, you know, you had other things to do as well), it’s the thought that counts.
6. Dry ice
I don’t think this needs an explanation. It just has to be part of your dinner because it can be.
7. Enjoy & have fun!
When you are done shopping for groceries, brainstorming ideas, designing invitations, cooking up incredible dishes and gluing together your last minute costume, sit back and relax. Enjoy a wonderful evening with wonderful people, which will be remembered for a long time.