If you are looking for a unique theme for your upcoming gathering with friends and family, consider a German costume party. Choose décor that celebrates German heritage while creating an ambience that serves as the perfect backdrop for the diverse costumes everyone wants to show off.

Include fun festivities to accompany your theme—and German foods and drinks to make the celebration complete. We’ve compiled some ideas for you to consider while you get ready for your German costume party.

Jot some of these down—and start preparing your checklist!

Don’t Forget to Include German Costumes on the Invitations

When writing the invitations to guests, be sure to include a note encouraging them to wear German costumes to the party. You want all of your guests to feel welcome and involved in the party, so covering your bases in the invitation is a great place to start. You may even consider giving your guests some ideas about what kinds of German costumes to wear.

Lederhosen are a must—but many other types of German costumes exist. You may even add an element of humor yourself by wearing socks with sandals—a staple in the German wardrobe! Make sure the invitation conveys the lightheartedness and sense of humor you want to bring to the party—including the cardstock you choose, the words you write, and any images you use.

First Things First: German Beer

Before preparing your shopping list, start with the most important component of the German costume party (maybe even more important than the costumes): German beer.

You can’t have a German costume party without German beer. Choose authentic German beer brands and offer a variety of brews to appeal to any palette. Some of your friends may not appreciate a good German beer—so be sure to have some alternatives as well.

Beer is an important part of German culture, with the drink present at many different gatherings. German beer can be dressed up or dressed down—made elegant or simple. We all know Germany is well-known for its beer, and for good reason.

In addition to the high quality of German beer compared with beers from other countries, you will find a wide range of selections coming from Germany—including wheat beer, pale beer, dark beer, and unfiltered beer.

Wheat beer has a large amount of wheat in addition to the traditional malt barley included in beers. Wheat beer is brewed and most often top-fermented, which means that a particular yeast is used to keep foam at the top of the beer during the fermentation process.

Pale beer offers another unique flavor. It is made with a warm fermentation process and uses pale malt, giving the beer a pale color. Some prefer dark beer—yet others prefer the unadulterated, authentic unfiltered beer.

Unfiltered beer, or kellerbier, is not clarified or pasteurized—and some beer lovers find versions of unfiltered beer superior to filtered betters.

 Image courtesy of Club Transatlântico's Flickr page

Variations of the German Costume Party, Including German Halloween Parties

Consider an alternative to the traditional Halloween party: How about a German Halloween party, where everyone can wear their German costumes?

Halloween is already a night when you have an excuse to let loose and have a little more fun—so your German costume party might be even better on Halloween night. Choose Halloween activities, foods, and games with a German twist.

You might also consider a German costume party to celebrate your child’s birthday (without beer, of course). A German-themed cake and decorations can be a fun alternative to the same decorations you’re used to from year to year. Include German-themed party favors and games to keep the kids entertained.

Keep a few costume items in the closet in case one of your child’s friends forgets his or her costume—you want everyone to feel included!

Foods for the Party

No matter which version of the German costume party you choose—Halloween, birthday, or another—be sure you have good food. German cuisine can be very tasty. If your party is for adults, be sure to choose foods that complement the beers you have available.

Consider different kinds of wursts, including bratwurst, liverwurst, knockwurst, and others. Wursts can even be child-friendly. Knockwurst is more like a hot dog. It is softer than other kinds of wursts and has a milder flavor. Liverwurst has a very strong flavor and is pleasing to a more refined palette. Choose your wursts wisely—but be sure to offer a variety.

Homemade pretzels are another great German food to include at your German costume party. Serve these pretzels warm, with plenty of coarse salt.

You may even offer variations of soft pretzels, including soft pretzels covered in cinnamon and sugar—or pretzels with a little bit of a spicy kick to them. Different dips also go well with soft pretzels.

Don’t forget to try some German potato salad. German potato salad is different from traditional potato salad. You will usually want to use red potatoes and leave some of the skin on before mixing everything together.

German potato salad is often served warm, but many guests may find a warm potato salad unappealing. You might also consider spaetzel as a side dish, which is like a small dumpling or egg noodle. Deep-fried spaetzel is even better.

You will have your guests coming back for seconds and thirds—so be sure you make enough! And don’t forget the hard breads. Germans love hard breads, including pumpernickel, rye, and many others.

Hopefully you have plenty of ideas for your German costume party. Remember the most important things is to have some fun and to keep your guests entertained in a lighthearted atmosphere with plenty to do, eat, and drink.

German costume parties are memorable experiences if done the right way. When the last of the dishes have been washed and the decorations put away, you’ll be the talk of the town and everyone will be looking forward to the next German costume party you throw!

Things to Consider When Choosing an Oktoberfest Costume

There comes a time of year when the leaves on the trees are changing, the wind feels cooler on the face, and the scent of autumn fills the air, and—for those of us who love the season—choosing an Oktoberfest costume is a top priority.

If you haven’t dressed up for Oktoberfest in the past, or if you are new to Oktoberfest celebrations, consider an Oktoberfest costume this year. Humor your friends, or show your Oktoberfest spirit, with a carefully chosen outfit that pays tribute to German heritage and, most importantly, having fun this Oktoberfest.

We have created a short guide of things to consider when choosing your next Oktoberfest costume.


Oktoberfest Costumes: The Basics

You might be browsing different Oktoberfest costumes and notice a trend: They all seem a bit colorful—and, dare we say, over the top? But do not worry. This is exactly how you are supposed to feel about an Oktoberfest costume.

Oktoberfest costumes are designed to celebrate the season’s harvest, and what better time to dress up in the season’s best and hit the Oktoberfest celebrations in true Oktoberfest spirit? You’ll quickly find that your costume is just what you need to make the celebrations livelier and more exciting.

When browsing for Oktoberfest costumes, you should know a few terms and facts. First, lederhosen are perhaps one of the most common components of an Oktoberfest costume.

Lederhosen means “leather breeches” in German. These shorts were created centuries ago and have developed as time has progressed. Lederhosen were designed for workers and laborers in Austria and Bavaria. The breeches were short, keeping the laborer cool and helping reduce any annoyances caused by long pants during hard labor.

Lederhosen were made of leather, which rinses more easily than cloth and stays cleaner during the workday. Because less material was needed for shorts, lederhosen were more affordable.

For many years, particularly as the Industrial Revolution was on the horizon and Germans were moving to the cities to find jobs, lederhosen became stigmatized in German culture as a rural form of clothing designed for the working poor. But near the end of the nineteenth century, lederhosen made a comeback and have since been associated with celebrations of cultural heritage—including Oktoberfest!

Both women and men can wear lederhosen—and many manufactures offer styles to accommodate a range of tastes. Women who don’t want to show up to Oktoberfest in a pair of “leather breeches” might opt for a dirndl, or a traditional German dress associated with rural, agrarian life in Germany—much like lederhosen.

In German, the word dirndl refers to the dress but also to a young woman. Dirndls are composed of a blouse, a bodice, a long skirt, and often an apron on top. The blouse is usually white in color and, in more traditional dirndls, includes ruffles.

The bodice of the dress tends to be composed of laces or flowery embellishments. Dirndl dresses come in a variety of colors and styles, and women often wear a dirndl with strap shoes.

Both men and women will most certainly want to purchase a pair of knee-high socks, which accompany lederhosen and dirndls alike. The most common sock color is white—but you can get creative here and add your own personal touch with a unique color or pattern. The socks are worn just below the kneecap or to the center of the knee cap, and they contrasts with the shoes you choose while adding another traditional element to the outfit ensemble.

And of course you will need a German hat to go with your new outfit. German hats come in a many different colors, shapes, and sizes, but the more traditional hats that you will see at Oktoberfest are usually forms of Alpine hats or Bavarian hats.

These hats are also referred to as Tyrolean hats. Tyrolean hats have a smaller, sometimes beveled rim. Common colors include green or black. Many German hats are accented with a couple of feathers, particularly at Oktoberfest celebrations.

When choosing your costume for Oktoberfest, be sure you find the right fit. You want to be comfortable during the long night of celebrations. Materials are also an important consideration. Cottons and other natural fibers will be less irritating to most skin types.

If you are looking for something more environmentally friendly, remember that lederhosen are often constructed from leather—so choose synthetic forms of leather instead. Oktoberfest costumes range in quality and price. If you see a more expensive costume that really stands out to you, remember you can use it from year to year—and that Oktoberfest costumes have been similar for nearly a century. So rest assured—you can use your German Oktoberfest costume for years to come.

 Image courtesy of Tom Rungitom's Flickr page

Can I Wear My Costume Only at German Oktoberfest Celebrations?

The answer is no—you don’t have to limit wearing your costume to German Oktoberfest celebrations! Consider throwing a themed party or German costume party at any time of the year. German costume parties are a great excuse for drinking lots of great beer.

And German foods can be among some of the tastiest, including different sausages, cheeses, and hard breads. Don’t forget soft pretzels, or Black Forest cake!

Also consider using your German Oktoberfest costume for Halloween. Think of your costume as a combined Oktoberfest Halloween costume! This way, you can save yourself the hassle of finding two different outfits—not to mention saving time and money.

Now that you are educated in all-things-Oktoberfest-costume, start your search for the perfect one. Keep in mind that Oktoberfest costumes are supposed to be full of humor and exaggerated, so don’t be shy! You will find many options—and many ways to make an Oktoberfest costume work just for you.

Play with colors, fabrics, and silhouettes. You might even find some wild interpretations of Oktoberfest costumes out there. It’s all in good fun. Most of all, enjoy the experience. Celebrate the season’s harvest with friends and family—and make some memories for the years to come.

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