Socially distanced dates: Themed dinner parties

How to have the best night out spent inside

Given the fact that it has been over 100 days since Ireland entered Level 5 restrictions, people are increasingly likely to try anything to make the most boring lockdown yet a bit more bearable. One way my flatmates and I have done so is by having themed evenings. This would work great in a flat, if you live with a significant other, or even if you just want to spice up the monotony of family dinner every night and have a bit of fun. Although some of these examples may seem a little cringey at first, it’s important to remember that you can make these activities as worthwhile as you want. Afterall, what else are you going to do? Here are a few ideas to make your evenings a little more interesting, and remember: there’s nothing wrong with embracing the kitsch and cringe for the sake of taking your mind off things.

International dinners

We are all missing traveling internationally and many of us have favourite cuisines that we’re dying to order on our next trip abroad. For me, my desert island food is Italian, so my flatmates and I decided to devote an entire evening to making an Italian dinner. Like all good Italian meals, this included homemade bruschetta, pasta, and tiramisu. We even played Dean Martin’s That’s Amore on repeat for extra flare. Of course, you can take this as far as you like. We went all out and even wore our fanciest clothes. What is great about these types of evenings is that they offer great flexibility; you can just order an Indian takeaway and watch a Bollywood movie or serve up a home cooked four-course french meal in a room full of french tricolours and makeshift eiffel towers made out of paper, that way you can travel all over the world and not have to leave your living room.

Pub quiz

If you want something a little more low key, pub quizzes are always a great way to go. Whether it is simply general knowledge, Eurovision or 90’s pop culture, it really is up to you. You can each prepare questions for each round and make it a running competition over multiple evenings. Everyone loves a bit of competition to blow off that lockdown steam and what better way to do that than the pub quiz to end all quizzes? A way to make pub quiz evenings more interesting is by incorporating a theme, like one in which people must dress according to decades, Disney princesses, sports teams, or whatever interests you. This is particularly fun when you have to make do with the slim selection of clothes you brought from home.

Cocktail night

You may have seen this across social media; the concept is quite simple. Everyone makes a signature cocktail, making sure to have enough ingredients for everyone involved. This is a great way to test out your bartending skills, and because everyone will be making different drinks, you’re less likely to get sick of drinking prosecco-inspired cocktails over and over again. Be as adventurous as you want hereif you are lacking inspiration, my signature cocktail is a Hugo which entails a refreshing mix of Prossecco, mint, elderflower cordial, and sparkling water. If you or someone involved doesn’t drink alcohol, you can easily transform these cocktails into mocktails. A tip to ensure that your cocktails are superb is to invest in a cocktail shaker setnot only will you look super attractive as you make your cocktails, but they will also taste much better than if you simply mixed them with a spoon. Plus, your arms will be super buff after a night of furiously shaking drinks.

Movie nights

A great way to elevate a simple evening film is to create a theme around it. Take Pirates of the Caribbean for example: you can watch the movie in a pirate inspired outfit whilst drinking rum based drinks like Mojitos or a Pina Colada. You can even commit to using Johnny Depp’s strangely mystifying accent throughout the night for a bit of flare. Another option could be to watch Coco whilst dining on your favourite Mexican takeaway. Afterall, the options are limitless. While this may exude uncomfortable levels of cringe, just think: what else would you be doing anyway? 

Obviously, these are only suggestions of things you can do to fill the lockdown void; you can make up your own themed evenings according to inside jokes, current events, or TV shows. There really are endless options once you get a little creative and don’t take things too seriously. Everyone is having a hard time at the moment and we all need little things to look forward to just to keep us going. In my flat, we have planned a themed evening every Friday night and it really has helped us get through the year—it’s something to look forward to after a week of endless zoom classes and assignments. Even if you’re managing to cope with the stress of this year, an opportunity to be silly and have some fun is definitely something we should avail of after the year we’ve all had.