Birthday Dinners Ideas

by Athena Hessong

Woman blowing out a birthday cake candle.

Terry Vine/Blend Images/Getty Images

A birthday dinner might be formal or informal, enjoyed at home or in a restaurant, but however you choose to serve the dinner, keep the preferences of the birthday person in mind. You can make the dinner a complete surprise, or get some input from your "guest of honor."

Fiesta Dinner

For a birthday honoree who loves Tex-Mex or Mexican cuisine, throw an all-out fiesta dinner. Start off with chips and salsa or spicy queso dip -- and margaritas for the adults. Put together entree plates featuring the honoree's favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex foods, such as tamales, enchiladas, tacos, flautas, burritos, Spanish rice and refried beans. For dessert, offer churros with hot chocolate for dipping, cinnamon-spiced coffee or flan. Put a birthday candle in the middle of the flan or on the table for the honoree to blow out. Prepare the foods from your favorite recipes or order the party food to-go from a local restaurant. Decorate the room with red, green and white streamers and strings of Christmas lights. Play mariachi music in the background to add to the atmosphere.

Barbecue Cookout Dinner

Meat lovers will relish a barbecue dinner and the accompanying alfresco dining. This option works best for summer birthdays when the weather is warm enough to eat and grill outside. Prepare the entire meal on the grill from the appetizers to the desserts. Grill shrimp on skewers for an appetizer. Follow that with the main course of steak, ribs, chicken or sausages. Grill vegetables, such as corn on the cob, potatoes, bell peppers or summer squash, for the side dishes. For dessert, grill peach halves and slices of pound cake until char marks develop. Serve the peaches and pound cake topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a candle in the middle of the ice cream scoop for the birthday honoree to blow out.

Romantic Birthday for Two

Celebrate the birthday of your significant other with a romantic dinner for two. Think simple yet elegant for the setting and the food. Use the best tablecloth and tableware you have. Turn off the electric lights and arrange candles around the dining room. Place a birthday card or small gift on the birthday person's empty plate for him to open before dinner. Serve cheese fondue for an appetizer with pieces of vegetable or bread to dip into the melted cheese. Follow that up with a light salad and the main course of the birthday person's favorite food, even if it's not elegant or upscale. If her favorite is boxed macaroni and cheese, prepare that. Serve the food, no matter what it is, on your best plates, garnished with a sprig of parsley. Finish that with a 6-inch round birthday cake for dessert. Opt for the recipient's favorite cake and icing pairing. The 6-inch round cake will be enough for two with a little left over.

Regional Cuisine

Bring the birthday honoree back to her childhood by serving foods from the region of the country where she grew up. For instance, if the birthday person is from New Orleans, serve seafood gumbo as a soup, crawfish etouffee with rice as an entree and beignets with cafe au lait for dessert. Decorate the room with travel posters from the region. A birthday person from the Midwest might want to sample foods from all around that region such as cheese curds, Cornish pasties, Cincinnati chili or sugar cream pie. Prepare a regional dessert in addition to the cake if the recipient asks for both. The birthday cake can be a late night snack.

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  • Terry Vine/Blend Images/Getty Images