For this dinner party, I set the ambiance with incenses, Indian music, soft candle lights and decorative elements that would transport us to the magic of the Indian culture. Yellow, pink and orange paper lanterns adorned the buffet table, creating a warm atmosphere. I turned my living room into a "lounging area" where guests could chat and sip their mango lassis. A "sari-like"curtain played the role of a table cover and as additional seats, two large round floor pillows. I gathered several different candle holders I already had at home, and arranged them on an antique tray.
On the the dinner table, Indian-inspired curtains, table runners, sarongs, scarves and shawls served as "tablecloths". I used stainless steel hammered bowls (called kadhai) as dinner dishes, and paired them with a flatware set designed to resemble henna painting. Also on the table, I left a masala dabba, a traditional Indian spice box, containing the spices I used on the meal's preparation. Guests could help themselves to some more spices to adjust the seasoning to their liking, but also, by leaving the box on the table, I wanted the aromas and colors to prepare my friends' palates.
As guests arrived, I handed them bindis and temporary henna tattoos to be worn during dinner, and sent them home with packets of soothing incense.
Most of what I used I already had at home, and what I didn't, I found at stores like World Market and Pier One.
You can see more details of this party at my blog, http://fete-a-fete.blogspot.com/2011/11/indian-potluck-dinner.html