The German Village Society is expected to mail invitations early next month for the Haus und Garten PreTour dinner parties.

The German Village Society is expected to mail invitations early next month for the Haus und Garten PreTour dinner parties.

Typically thought of as one of the major events in the area, the preview tour and dinner parties act as a fundraiser and kick off the annual Haus und Garten Tour.

"It's an even bigger fundraiser than the tour date itself," said Erin O'Donnell, the society's executive director. "I've had people calling me since January asking me when the PreTour invitations will come out. I get several calls a day because they are excited."

The theme of this year's PreTour will be "Dining through the Decades," a nod to the fact that the Haus und Garten Tour will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The event takes place 5 p.m. to midnight June 27 throughout the village.

Society trustee Carolyn McCall is co-chair of the event. She said one of her goals was to have more manageable parties.

"Some of our dinners, in the past, have been great big events," she said. "We think smaller dinners are more intimate." McCall noted that the largest dinner will have 40 seats.

"It's also more doable for our hosts," she said.

There will be 34 dinner parties for the PreTour and about 450 seats available.

"My guess is that it is the most we have ever had or close to the most dinners we have ever had," McCall said. "People will have a lot to choose from."

In the past, the PreTour has been a sold-out event.

"We are literally date and time stamping them (invitations)," O'Donnell said. "If one person comes in 10 minutes before the other one, they will get first choice."

The PreTour event includes a tour of all nine homes and four gardens that will be open to the public the following day, along with a cocktail party and dinner.

Those who view the homes during the PreTour find them more accessible and get a closer, better look at them, McCall said.

"Everybody loves the fact that you can see the whole houseit's not crowded and you can go at your own pace," she said. "You are touring the homes with 400 or 450 people while as the next day you are touring with 5,000 people."

The dinner parties are put on by local residents as gifts to the society, although there are some sponsors that provide wine and flowers.

Some of the themes for this year's dinner parties are "1989: Son of Heaven's Feast," "The Millennium: Sex and the City," and "The '70s: Ping-Pong Diplomacy."

Tickets for the event are $140 for members and $175 for non-members.