Wondering what to do for your Diwali party? Here are a few themes to work with.

Desi Do

True to its name, it’s all ethnic and traditional. Light the house with diyas and candles. You can also use incense sticks for fragrance. Adorn hallways and doors with marigolds. Use the traditional serial lights for exteriors. Another option is to make it a Ghazals nights or a retro night with Indian music. When sending the invites, tell your guests it’s an ethnic do. Indian wear is a must though they can represent any Indian state.

Games like teen patti, dumb charades, antakshari are the best entertainment options. When it comes to the food, biryani, raita and papad is the best bet because re-heating the biryani is easy especially if it’s going to be a late night. Roti-sabji and traditional South Indian food are also good options if you’re looking to wrap up early. If it’s all home cooked, try a pot luck dinner. Not only will there be variety it will also ease the pressure. Stick to traditional desserts like gulab jamuns, gajar ka halwa or semiya payasam. Party favours could include aroma oils and candle dispensers in a potli.

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Casino Royale

Decorate the house with lots of bright lights and multicoloured bulbs. Add cut-outs of playing cards, dice and the roulette table on the walls or pillars. Add tables with different games on each. It’s formal wear all the way. Tell those who don’t like the idea that they will be fined. The more posh their dress, the more coins they get to play with.

Some of the games that can be played are Monopoly, Bridge, Lucky 7. The music that you play could be hip hop or Hollywood. Start with short eats while playing: quiche, small sandwiches, veggie sticks and a dip or cutlets. For the main course, try burgers or a make-your-own pasta table with pesto, tomato and cheese sauces in bowls, assorted vegetables (both raw and cooked) and pre-boiled penne, fusili or spaghetti. For desserts try cheesecake or any regular cake.

Party favours could be a few notes of any denomination or a voucher to be redeemed at a store or a restaurant.

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Master Chef India

Let Diwali be an ode to food. Warn your guests to rest before they come as they would need to be active through the night. Ask everyone to come dressed as cooks or waiters. As they come in, give them a chef’s cap with a quote about food. Hand them an apron too.

Get one person to double up as bartender. Decorate walls with recipes, logos of cooking shows and photographs of people cooking. Have a request corner for music and let the DJ do the mixing.

Divide people into teams and get them to make a starter, a drink and a dessert in 30 minutes. Put vegetables, some sauces, breads, biscuits, nuts, chocolate, plain sponge cake on each table. Also give them a few drinks to concoct a potent potion. This cook-off can actually be fun and mix the groups so that everyone gets to know the other. An interesting game could be ‘write your own recipe’.

For food, start with a platter of salads and pappad. Make your own tacos or Khow Suey for the main course. For dessert, ice cream and toppings would be the best. Keep choc-chips, caramalised nuts, honey, dry fruits on hand for toppings.

Recipe books, bookmarks or aprons make great return gifts.

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Desert theme

Surprise your guests with a journey to Arabia. The best venue would be a big terrace with the space to shake a leg. Get your friends to loan lightweight saris — preferably chiffons — to drape on the walls. Start from the ceiling and take it across the walls to form a canopy. Keep the lighting dim; yellow lights work best with this theme. Use lanterns to complete the look. Mattresses and cushions or low divans along the walls are the best seats. Leave the centre free to dance.

Try your hand at lamb steaks with spiced couscous, spicy lamb kofta kebabs with a humus dip or a falafel platter. With so many options for belly dancing songs see who dances the best. Get guests to vote to pick your winner. Include card games for those who aren’t dancing divas. Goodbye gifts can be perfumes.