Dinner parties are either formal affairs or casual ones. Consequently, planning the dinner party games should factor into your party planning. Choose games which match the intention of the evening, and unless you're throwing a Murder Mystery Party or Casino Night, the game need not be the central event in the party. Be sure to allow plenty of time for mingling as well. Here are some dinner party games to choose from based on the formality of the dinner party.
This is perfect for a formal dinner party. It's a game for introspective and intellectual discussion. The game consists of a cube containing cards. Each card has a topic to discuss. You can use these cards in many ways. Consider handing one to each guest upon arrival, and directing them to discuss their card with two people. As an after dinner game, you could have a person pick a card, answer the question, and pose the question to another guest of his choice. That guest answers the question, and then picks a new question, answers the new question and poses the question to another guest. Less a game than a wonderful discussion tool, this still deserves inclusion.
Apples to Apples
A bit more rowdy than Table Topics, this game is still appropriate for formal or casual dinner parties. It's a good way for people to get to know each other, and doesn't require knowledge of trivia. One person each round is the judge, having an adjective card which everyone sees ("Silly" for example). Everyone else has 7 noun cards. Each person selects one card that he or she guesses the judge will choose as the best match for the adjective and gives it to the judge face-down. The judge shuffles them, reads and makes his selection. The player who turned in the card the judge selected wins the adjective card. The player to the left of the judge is now the judge, and the game continues. Players take a card to replace the one they gave the last judge.
Find Your Match
Using "Hello" stickers or blank labels, write famous couples, each on its own sticker. When guests arrive, stick one on each guest's back. Guests have to mingle and help each other figure out who they are, and who they belong with. No telling the answers! Depending on the theme and the mix of guests, the pairings need not be famous people, but could be spices, office supplies, artist and work of art, author and book, etc.! The more creative, the more fun the game.
Many people have inherited or otherwise received an expensive set of dinner ware at some point. Traditionally, these dishes were used only for formal entertaining, or holidays when all guests arrived dressed in fancy clothing. Otherwise, the china was kept in a cabinet to protect it from dust.