Unique Diwali party ideas to light up your celebration

For Hindus all around the world, Diwali (Divali or Deepavali) is the biggest festival on the calendar each year. During the days leading up to Diwali, friends and coworkers exchange gifts of dry fruits, sweets and precious metals. Children enjoy the festive atmosphere and anticipate spending quality time with cousins and extended family. On Diwali day, families wear their finest new clothes, illuminate their homes with lights, eat elaborate meals, and perform religious rituals. Others choose to celebrate Diwali by partying with neighbors and friends with music, dancing, and games. 

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably looking to light up your celebration with new tips and tricks that dispel darkness and bring on the fun. With our ideas, recipes, and, of course, our handmade Diwali invitations, you’ll throw the most memorable Diwali party ever.

 

A hand placing lit diyas together.

What is Diwali?

Also known as the festival of lights, Diwali marks the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and the beginning of a new year. According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Diwali is a celebration for the return of king Rama to his kingdom of Ayodhya after spending 14 years in exile. Other beliefs link Diwali day to lord Krishna triumphing over the demon Narakasura, the birth of the wealth goddess Lakshmi, and remembrance to goddess Kali who symbolizes victory of good over evil. Regardless of the historical significance, the theme of Diwali remains the same for everyone, which is to come together and have fun.  

Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists around the world observe Diwali. Today, Diwali is for sharing close bonds with family, friends, and the community. 

 

A group of festively dressed people lighting sparklers.

When is Diwali?

The actual date for Diwali varies based on the Hindu lunar calendar, but it typically falls in October or November. It is observed on the 15th day of the 8th month of Kartik, which is also a new moon. Celebrations may last for up to 5 days with each day calling for a different ritual and tradition. 

There is the day of Dhanteras (cleaning), Choti Diwali (decorating), Diwali day (main occasion), followed by Padwa (celebrating love between couples), and Bhai Duj (honoring brothers and sisters). Diwali parties are held all throughout the festive season. 

The next Diwali is on Monday, October 24, 2022.

 

A close up of a hand pouring colorful sand art. Right: A red Diwali invitation featuring a subtle geometric design.

Choli” by Paperless Post.

 

What are some Diwali traditions?

If you’re looking to incorporate Diwali traditions into your celebration, there are so many wonderful and fun ones to choose from, though individual customs may differ by region or by family. Some ways you could choose to celebrate the Festival of Lights include:

– Lighting diyas and candles at night. 

– Making rangoli decorations at home.

– Exchanging gifts with family, friends, and colleagues. 

– Praying and performing religious rituals at the temple or at a home altar.

– Cooking and eating lots of Indian snacks and sweets.

Don’t forget to plan ahead—Diwali preparations typically begin days ahead and require meticulous planning. Preparations for Diwali begin up to 20 days in advance, around the festival of Dussehra. You should send out invitations up to a month before, plan your menu a week in advance, and clean and decorate a couple of days prior to Diwali. Let’s take a look at some unique Diwali celebration ideas to help you get started. 

Women’s hands in prayer in front of an alter to Ganesh.

How do you celebrate Diwali?

Diwali is a homecoming event, and no matter how you celebrate, you’ll want to remember the most important part of the holiday—making time for friends and family. During the days leading up to Diwali, people purchase and deliver ornate hampers and boxes full of dried fruits (such as almonds, cashews, raisins), and mithai (Indian sweets made with ghee, milk, sugar, fruits, nuts, and edible silver foil) to gift to their clients and colleagues, neighbors, and friends. Markets light up with lights and garlands and offer some of the biggest sales of the year. Families shop for diyas (hand-painted earthen lamps), place orders at halwais (Indian confectioners), and stock up on puja samagri (prayer offerings). Everyone is in a joyful mood, seeking a bright Diwali filled with health, happiness, good luck, wealth, and prosperity.

If you’re celebrating with family, you may want to gather with only close relatives on Diwali day at home. Greet each other “Happy Diwali,” say prayers, light lamps, and share elaborate meals. 

Other ideas for celebrating Diwali include dinner parties, potluck community dinners, dancing with a live DJ or band, mehndi/henna nights, fashion competitions, and kids activities. 

 

Left: A woman’s hands hold a garland of marigolds. Right: An orange Diwali invitation on a green background.

Diwali Lights” by Paperless Post.

Diwali decoration ideas

Decorating for Diwali is all about brightness and color. If you’re hosting, you should focus on creating a festive atmosphere with plenty of decor to symbolize hospitality and prosperity for the coming celebrations. If you’re going all out, you may want to begin planning your decor at least a week or two before, especially if you are ordering fresh flowers or hiring a local artist to help you with your rangoli. No matter what you decide, weDiwali is all abStart decorating for Diwali a week or two before. These artistic and colorful Diwali decorations can spark your creativity as you begin to plan your own decor.

Lights: Start with putting string or rope lights outside on windows and doors. The festival of lights is all about ambient decorative lighting, so you’ll want to create a spectacle with yours. 

In Indian tradition, the front door welcomes the gods and goddesses to enter and bring wealth and good luck. Decorate your entrance with flower garlands, lamps, and floor designs. 

Rangoli: Rangoli is a traditional patterned floor decoration (located at either a door step or entry foyer). Make it yourself using uncooked rice, colored sand, quartz powder, fresh petals, faux flowers, brass bowls with floating candles, and diyas. Add designs like religious symbols, mandala (cosmic), geometric or flower shapes. If you’d prefer to leave the art to the professionals, consider hiring a local artist to complete your rangoli before the big day.

Mandir: Inside the home, find a quiet corner or a separate room for a prayer altar. Here you can place statues of Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi on colorful table runners, surrounded by tea lights and candles. Set up an offering of fruits, candy, and mithai on a silver or brass tray. Handcrafted wooden temples adorned with peacock feathers and pearl strings also make for beautiful temple backdrops. 

 

A Diwali invitation featuring illustrations of pink and orange flowers.

Aripan” by Paperless Post.

Foods to serve at Diwali

Sweets and fried snacks are a major part of Diwali celebrations—it’s all about that sweet tooth! You can purchase your favorite pre-made specialty treats, cook staples at home, or ask your party attendees to bring a dish to pass. Indian food typically takes a lot of time and labor to prepare, so the latter option may be best if you are juggling work, school, and hosting a Diwali event at the same time. 

Snacks and Drinks: Diwali evenings tend to involve many courses of food, cocktails and other adult beverages. If you want to serve non-alcoholic drinks, offer sherbet, mango juice or nimbu pani (sweet and salty homemade lemonade). Appetizers may include vegetable samosas, aloo tikki, pani puri, dahi vada, and bowls filled with different kinds of namkeen (savory lentil mixes). 

Diwali Sweets: Keep Indian confectionery such as shakkar para (sweet crisp snack), motichoor ladoo (sweetened crushed chickpea flour ball), and milk barfi (classic Indian fudge) on hand to offer your guests. For dessert, try your hands at classic Indian recipes like rasmalai, gulab jamun (fried dough balls in sugar syrup), or simply serve fresh store-bought sweets.

Dinner: If you are hosting your Diwali party after a prayer ceremony, you should serve only vegetarian food. Your main course may include a variety of Indian curries, stir-fried veggies, and delectable breads. Make sure to add condiments such as mango pickle, mint chutney, and yogurt to your Diwali dinner table. For the main course, prepare vegetarian recipes such as daal makhni, saag paneer, chana masala, poori, rice, and raita. 

Left: A young woman dresses in a sari for Diwali. Right: A floral gold Diwali invitation.

Hotel Udaipur” by Paperless Post.

What to wear on Diwali

On Diwali, you’ll want to pull out all the stops when it comes to your wardrobe. Conjure thoughts of brightness and joy in your most vibrant Indian ethnic attire. For women, think saris with tailor-made blouses, salwar kameez, or lehenga choli, accented by finest gold jewelry and colorful bangles. If you don’t feel like wearing traditional garb, put on a long colorful skirt or a tunic top. For men, think kurtas over tight pants or pajamas. If you don’t allow shoes indoors, you can let your guests know of your preferences in your Diwali invitation

 

Left: A bright blue Diwali invitation featuring the goddess Lakshmi. | Right: A young girl and her mom opening Diwali presents.

Retro Diwali” by Paperless Post.

Diwali activities for kids

Make Diwali celebrations special for the little ones by indulging them in hands-on arts and crafts, entertaining games, and insightful books. Here are a few activities you can plan for the kids attending your Diwali party. 

DIY diyas. Purchase earthen clay lamps, paint, glitter, glue, sequins, beads and mirrors so kids can make their own diyas. Once the lamps are ready, you can fill them with lamp oil and wicks, and light them on Diwali day. 

Rangoli activity. Use a stencil to draw out a simple rangoli pattern on paper or the floor. Then, ask the kids to fill in the lines with colored dry powder. You can also allow them to pursue their creativity and make their own rangoli design, or purchase a rangoli mandala puzzle to solve. 

Read together. Read children’s books about Diwali and have discussions about the significance of the festival, how different kids around the world celebrate it, and what it means to them. 

Fireworks party. Kids also love to watch and light fireworks on Diwali day. For safety, attend a public firework display at your community center or temple.   

Left: A close up photo of lit diyas. | Right: A Diwali invitation featuring illustrations of hanging lanterns.Diwali Lanterns” by Paperless Post.

Diwali activities for adults

Share some laughs and competitive spirits by organizing activities for the adults at your party. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorites. Just make sure to have plenty of libations around as your games start to heat up!

Antakshari is a popular singalong game that both adults and kids can enjoy together. In this game, two groups compete to sing new and old American or Bollywood songs. The only rule is to sing a song that begins with the last letter of the ending word of the previous song. You can even play the game via video call to include those who cannot attend in person. 

Dance competition. Create a playlist of popular Bollywood songs and have a dance-off to lift up the spirits on Diwali night. 

Card games. After a drink of Kingfisher and Taj Mahal beer, mocktail or a cocktail, adults can settle down for taash (card games), often involving real money. A poker-inspired betting game, called teen patti (meaning three cards), is especially popular at social events. You can also play traditional poker or rummy. 

 

A purple Diwali invitation featuring Ganesh.

Vinayanka” by Paperless Post.

Diwali party themes and invite wording

The most important part of planning any great party is sending the right invitation to match the celebration. Include instructions on your festive Indian dress code and what to bring so your guests can plan in advance. Below are some examples of Diwali party themes and sparkling invites:

 

Light the diya and enjoy a Diwali feast

Ashima and Ashoke invite you to

Light the Diya

And enjoy a Diwali feast

Saturday, November 13th at 6pm

1079 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge

The Ganguli Residence

 

Share some Diwali sweets as you celebrate the festival of lights.

Share Some Sweets

With the Gangulis

As they celebrate 

The festival of light

November 13th at 6pm

1079 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge

 

Diwali dinner party

Please join Mohan and Shama Biswas

For Diwali dinner

On November 3th at 8pm

Hanuman House, Naipaul Street, Trinidad

 

 – Diwali cocktail party

Happy Diwali

Please join The Biswas for a cocktail party

To celebrate

The Festival of Lights

Saturday, November 1

Our House

 

– Fireworks party

Please join the Biswas for their

Fireworks Party

Saturday, November 8th at 6pm

Our Home

 

– Dinner and Card games

Please join The Guptas for

Diwali Dinner & Taash

On Saturday, November 8th at 6pm

At our home

RSVP by October 8th

 

Planning your Diwali party with Paperless Post

Deliver creative and exciting Diwali party invitations with Paperless Post. We make it easy with trackable RSVPs, guest questions where you can ask any dietary restrictions or vaccination questions, and broadcast messages. Since many people host Diwali celebrations around the same week, plan early and allow your guests enough time to respond.  

With Paperless Post, you can choose from dozens of gorgeous invitations and flyers for your Diwali party. Not only will these creative and memorable invitations be sure to leave an impression, but they can also be sent entirely online—no stamps or envelopes needed.

Plan your next Diwali party today with a little help from Paperless Post!

 

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