If you'd rather forgo the traditional fete (tea sandwiches and parlor games sound painful?), consider a few of these fun, activity-driven party ideas that let you and your friends laugh and learn together.
Culinary events are held nationwide through companies like Hipcooks, which hosts parties in Los Angeles; Seattle; and Portland, Oregon. Boutique hotels, including Detroit's Honor & Folly, have chefs on-site and room for parties. And cooking schools and local bakeries, where you can try preserving fruits or cake decorating, are great resources.
Learn a Trade
Don't rule out reaching for long-term goals either. At Brooklyn Winery you can learn about the lengthy winemaking process and take home a custom blend. And Kookoolan Farms in Yamhill, Oregon, offers cheese-making classes.
Craft Something New
Gourmet endeavors aren't your only options; pick an artistic pursuit, like painting or flower arranging, and find a studio or museum where it's taught. The WonderCraft, in Austin, Texas, gives screen-printing and glass-etching lessons in an Airstream trailer, and Make Meaning crafts shop has outposts in Arizona, Massachusetts, and New York for creating ceramics, soap, and more. Or, try a MCMC Fragrances perfume-making workshop in New York City.