If you love cooking and entertaining, hosting an international dining night at your home is a great way to try something new. International food is full of flavor and unique ingredients that will expand your culinary horizons. If you’re looking for ways to do something new and unique, an international dinner is a fantastic way to create an exceptional experience and delicious meals. When hosting these dinners, understanding more about what makes each culture special is important. From France and Mexico to Italy and beyond, there are plenty of fantastic food and drink recipes to try.
Also if you are looking for an original date night idea with your lover, this article will give you plenty of charming international ideas.
Read on to learn more about hosting international nights at your home so you can become the ultimate chef and party host.
Decorating for your international dining night
Before you start whipping up a new dinner recipe, look for some décor you can incorporate into your home to match the country’s theme. Here are some examples of decorations you can use based on the individual country.
- Spain: Inspired by the beauty of the Mediterranean coastline, Spanish décor often incorporates earthy tones like brown, white, and green. Decorate your Spanish dinner party with pottery and pieces like wrought iron candle holders that support a beautiful pillar candle. Other ideas include carved wooden panels and terra cotta vases, and vessels filled with freshly cut flowers to add a pop of color to the celebration.
- Germany: Decorate with traditional Bavarian colors of blue and white to help create an authentic German experience. Modern German décor is clean and simple, but traditional styles involve more intricate details like carved wooden clocks and vibrant colors. Dress up your table with a blue tablecloth, then complement it with white dinnerware to recreate a custom German table setting.
- Italy: Recreate the look of a rustic Italian countryside by using thick-cut wood placemats and dried leaf garlands. A simple, crisp white tablecloth is suitable for this décor style. Fill a large clear glass vase with breadsticks and provide your guests with sparkling mineral water poured in a glass carafe. A bundle of fresh rosemary tied up with twine will fill the room with a vibrant aroma and add greenery.
- USA: If you’re hosting a classic U.S. dinner party, keep things colorful. Dress up the dining room table with a plaid or floral tablecloth. A beautiful centerpiece featuring a fresh floral bouquet is also a good choice. Add some candles to the room to create a warm, relaxing ambiance.
- France: Infuse a luxe look when hosting a French international dinner by using crystal drinkware and metallic flatware. White plates adorned with a gold rim will give your table setting a classic French-inspired look. Add marble candle holders to the table or use a beautiful wine carafe to serve beverages. Linen tablecloths and napkins are also a must-have for a French-themed dinner.
- South America: Make your South American dinner memorable by incorporating bright colors. For example, bold, colorful banners hung on the wall are a classic tradition in Peru. Yellow, dark pink, red, and orange flowers are great décor items for this theme. Adorn the table with a traditional South American blanket featuring vibrant patterns and colors.
- Mexico: Drape a colorful Mexican sarape over your table to infuse the colors of Mexico into your décor. You can go bold by hanging pinatas from the ceiling or by adding some sugar skulls to the table as a centerpiece. Cut paper garland called Papel Picado can add another fun element to your home as you dine in Mexican style.
Meals and traditions by country
- Spanish nights: Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that features rice flavored with saffron. You can add a variety of meat to the dish, including seafood, chicken, or rabbit, if you’re feeling brave. Tapas consists of small, bite-sized meals that are made to be shared. Make a variety of fresh appetizers to serve as tapas before the main meal. Patatas bravas is another classic Spanish dish that features cubed or cut and fried potatoes accompanied by a range of flavorful sauces like tomato aioli.
- French nights: A classic like French onion soup is a wonderful appetizer for a French dinner. Serve a dish called chicken confit as the main attraction, a salted, herb-seasoned cut of chicken breast slowly cooked in olive oil. A gorgeous tart topped with salted caramel sauce is a wonderful way to end the night.
- English nights: Bangers and mash (or sausage and potatoes) is a classic British dish. Top the dish with some rich stout onion gravy to give it depth and a more robust flavor. Other British dinner ideas include fish and chips (fried fish and French fries) or a Sunday roast featuring roast meat served with potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and vegetables all topped with gravy for a delicious finishing touch.
- Indian nights: Tandoori chicken is a fabulous Indian dish that includes a marinade made with yogurt, masala, cumin, tandoori, and nutmeg. Cover the chicken with the sauce, then skewer it and cook it till done. Basmati rice and curry dishes are other classic Indian foods that are sure to be a hit. Finish dinner with a lovely vegetarian sweet dish like Gulab Jamun.
- Mexican nights: You can never go wrong with Mexican food, so have fun coming up with a variety of options like tacos, empanadas, or tostadas. Pozole is a traditional soup made of hominy that’s soaked overnight then cooked and served with herbs, spices, and vegetables like fresh chili and chopped onion. For dessert, make fresh sopapillas and drizzle them with honey.
- South American nights: Ceviche is a Peruvian dish that includes a range of seafood in a broth made of citrus juice, oregano, onion, and cilantro. Serve arepas for a casual meal, a classic South American sandwich made of ground maize meal or cooked dough, then filled with hearty meat or eggs. Dulce de leche is a popular dessert made of caramel that can be served with pastries or toast.
- Italian nights: Make a classic antipasti plate appetizer and include fresh olives, sliced meats, and cheeses served on a beautiful board. Add crusty bread slices or crackers to go with the dish. Polenta is a popular Italian dish made of stone-ground corn cooked till thick and served with butter, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Other ideas include fresh ravioli, lasagna, and gnocchi.
- Greek nights: Moussaka is a classic Greek dish made with spiced beef or lamb cooked in tomato sauce, then layered with fried eggplant and bechamel sauce. For a handheld meal, try gyros stuffed with lamb and tzatziki sauce. Make Greek meatballs, which are sausages made of ground pork and beef seasoned with cumin and olive oil, then cooked in a red wine sauce and served with rice on the side.
Games and table games to play
Your international dining night will be even more fun if you play a few traditional games and table games. Here are a few examples of popular games, depending on the country.
- Checkers, backgammon, and chess are some of the world’s oldest games, dating back to around 3000 BCE from ancient Mesopotamia. These games are fun to play for any dinner party, regardless of the country or theme.
- Ludo is a popular board game throughout India and Europe. Play this game if you’re hosting an Indian, British, or German dining night.
- For a USA dining night, play a few classics like Scrabble, Risk, or Pictionary for some fun entertainment after your meal.
- Catan is a German strategy game popular throughout Europe and in the United States. Trade resources, establish holdings and try to outsmart your opponent.
- Mancala is a fun game where two players compete against each other to sow seeds and reap the most rewards. With origins in India, Africa, and the Arab world, it’s an excellent choice for Indian dining nights.
Traditional drinks for international nights
In addition to meals, décor, and games, each country has its own unique traditional drink. Here are a few examples of drinks you can serve by country.
- Serve sparkling gin and tonic if you’re hosting a British dinner. This classic drink is popular all over the world but got its origins in British pubs.
- From red to white, wine is a classic drink that can be served at any dinner. From French to Italian, pour a glass of wine that comes from the region you’re using for your dinner night.
- Make the Pisco Sour for a South American dining night. This cocktail has a base liquor of Pisco served with bitters, egg whites, and lime juice for a bright taste and smooth texture.
- Offer your guests a glass of Campari during Italian night. This beverage is a bitter, red-colored Italian aperitif with a strong orange bitter taste that can be mixed with sparkling soda.
- Other classic drinks include bourbon for U.S.A. dinner parties and tequila for Mexican dinners.
Whether you adore the rich flavors of Indian food or prefer the crunch of Mexican tacos, an international dining night is a great way to travel without ever having to leave your home. Learn more about the many unique traditions of different countries, including popular main courses, drinks, and desserts. With the right combination of food and culture, your international nights at home are sure to be a hit with your guests.