filed under Hosting & Entertaining

How-To: Throw a TV Series Theme Party

comment Comment Written by

Photo by creativedc

When I was a little girl, my family used to look forward to TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday) night. TGIF night consisted of the weekly lineup of shows on ABC, frozen pizza, and sometimes a few games. It was a great way for my family to share quality time together at the end of a busy week. I’ll never forget how much fun we had laughing and playing together.

Now that I’m an adult, I still love watching my favorite TV shows with the people I care about, but with a little more sophistication than a frozen pizza. (Although I’m not ashamed to say that sometimes there’s nothing better than an old-school frozen pizza and a glass of milk.) There are so many shows that can provide inspiration for a fabulous party—Mad Men, Glee, The Good Wife, and Brothers and Sisters, just to name a few. Wondering how on earth some of these shows might translate to a theme party? Here are a few tips for drawing inspiration from your favorite TV show and channeling it into a fantastic gathering that your guests will adore.

Take a Cue from the Time Period

Shows that are set in a particular time period, like Mad Men, are a perfect muse for creating a party menu. Even if the food from that era leaves, well, something to be desired, you can get creative and step up the dishes a bit, with an eye on ingredients, preparation or presentation. Cocktails can be a lot of fun, too, and there is always something period-appropriate to make your party a little more fun.

Look to Location for Inspiration

Shows like The Good Wife, for example, which is set in Chicago, provide lots of food ideas to jump-start your party menu. Every city, state and country has plenty of emblematic food options to work with—think Chicago-style hot dogs or pizza, New York-style bagels, Boston-style clam chowder—the possibilities are endless!

Use Setting to Stimulate Ideas

Getting inspired by a TV show’s geographic location is great, but don’t overlook another important source of inspiration: setting. Take Glee, which is set in a high school. This is my favorite show for prompting a theme party—how can you go wrong with tator tots, slushies (spiked for an adult party), grilled cheese and a little mystery meat? Bonus points if you can track down some lunch trays to serve food on!

Put It All Together

Now that you have some tips to create the perfect party, there are just a couple more details to take care of. You’ll need invitations and decorations. Nothing needs to be over the top, just enough to incorporate a few aspects of the TV show and set the tone for your theme party.

If you still need inspiration or would like a jumpstart on planning, check out this handy round-up from Epicurious featuring party menus and party-planning ideas based on some current and recent TV show favorites.

So rather than spend the night watching the tube in your pajamas, mix things up by inviting some friends over for a party that features food, drink and fun in a format you all know and love (or even love to hate). Get planning!

Editor’s Note: Looking for vintage cocktail recipes? Check out the extensive cocktail archive at SLOSHED! For menu inspiration, find ideas organized by decade at

Do you love theme parties as much as we do? What are some of your favorite party-planning tips? Discuss!




Rachael White is the author of the blogs Set the Table and Tokyo Terrace. After four years of living, eating, and entertaining in Tokyo, Japan, she and her family have relocated to Denver, Colorado. Rachael is constantly searching for new ways to make entertaining easier and more interesting for guests in a variety of environments and situations. In addition to food blogging, her recipes have been published in cookbooks including Foodista Best of Food Blogs and Peko Peko: A Charity Cookbook for Japan and in Japan’s Daily Yomiuri newspaper. Originally from Minnesota, Rachael strives to recreate recipes and settings that reflect Midwestern comfort with a modern twist.