From the invitations to the goodie bags, the best way to enhance any event is to tie it all together with a central theme. Whether the inspiration for your soiree stems from a book or a decade in history, choosing a theme is a great way to make your party unique.
Depending on a variety of factors, some themes are applicable to several different kinds of get-togethers while others are more specific to a particular group or occasion. To help you craft the perfect party the next time you're planning an event, here are 10 theme ideas that are sure to get guests in the spirit to have a good time, regardless if they're there to promote a charitable cause or celebrate your birthday.
Read the next page to learn how sparkly vampires and teen magicians could play a role at your kid's (or your) next birthday party.
Books are loved by people of all ages, and they make a great theme for a variety of events. Baby showers can be decorated with stacks of children's books and wreaths made from recycled pages. Similarly, a child's birthday party can be centered around her favorite literary character or book, complete with a chocolate dirt cake and gummy book worms. Older kids can also focus their birthday parties on their favorite novels or the latest book craze about wizards, vampires or other teen-friendly characters. Of course, if you have a passion for a particular work, there's nothing wrong with throwing an adult-focused literary party of your own (even if it's also about teen wizards or sparkling vampires).
Put a playful spin on a formal dinner and ask guests to dress in costume from one of the most popular decades in modern history -- the roaring '20s. Encourage female friends to dress as flappers in short, beaded dresses and long strands of pearls, and ask male guests to don top hats and tail coats. Use this theme for a formal sit-down dinner, costume party or New Year's Eve blow out, and don't forget to mix plenty of Prohibition-style cocktails like sidecars and highballs. You can even adopt this theme for a wedding by dressing bridesmaids and groomsmen in the fashions of the time and let your wedding guests in on the costume fun, too! Hire a jazz band to play during the reception, and -- if you can afford it -- reserve a corner of the venue for a cigar bar.
Round up friends and family and ask them to dust off their cowboy hats and boots in preparation for the country-western event of the year. A newly engaged couple might enjoy a western-themed event for their engagement party -- or even their wedding reception! Bales of hay and sawdust will lend a more casual feel to the ceremony, and spacious country venues, like a farm or barn, can easily accommodate a large guest list.
Aside from couples getting hitched, any other adults that like to square dance might want to reserve this theme for a milestone birthday party. Before the candles are blown out, guests can enjoy country music, line dancing and maybe even take a wild ride on a rented mechanical bull! Provide everyone with farm-fresh veggies, an assortment of barbecued meats, a choice of pies, and you can serve punch from a large copper washtub into Mason jars. Depending on the formality of the event, you could hire a bartender to serve classic ales and other alcoholic drinks -- just make sure the cowboys and girls drink responsibly to prevent any saloon brawls.
Invite your friends to a glamorous movie-themed event and roll out the red carpet for them at the front door. Whether you're watching a Hollywood awards show or your favorite flick, this event can be tailored to suit many different groups (or audiences). A teenagers' sleepover could include a private screening of the latest tween box-office hit, right in the comfort of your living room. You could even take everyone outside to watch movies in the backyard if you have a projector and a large, white bed sheet to hang on a clothes line to act as the movie screen. The party menu for teens can be as simple as candy and popcorn. Adults could arrive in suits and cocktail dresses for a live showing of the Academy Awards, complete with champagne and fancy hors d'oeuvres. Everyone, regardless of age, will love to take home photos snapped by a photographer -- the paparazzi -- as party favors once the event is over.
Whether you prefer basketball, soccer, football, tennis or any other sport, all of these games can easily be turned into themes. Football will be an easy, much-appreciated choice for an adult Super Bowl party, and volleyball will obviously be the expected theme at a high school volleyball team banquet. However, practically any sport can be used as the decorating scheme for a child's birthday party. Napkins, plates and cups are often sold to match a sports theme event, and since most cakes are round, they can be decorated as soccer, basket or tennis balls. The party activity is simple -- just buy the sports equipment needed to go along with your theme, and referee a friendly game in the backyard.
A nostalgia party is the perfect theme for a class reunion, anniversary party or even just a planned get-together with friends. Theme the event to the decade you graduated high school for a reunion or the decade you were married for an anniversary celebration. Encourage guests to dress up in past fads and fashions, and decorate the venue with photos from the time period. Teens might enjoy a nostalgia theme for a class dance, dressing in the fashions from the decade of their early childhoods. A nostalgia-themed event might also be a fun way to raise money for your favorite charity. No matter who's on the guest list, don't forget to play plenty of music from the decade you choose!
A Mexican-inspired fiesta is a great theme for a variety of events. A fiesta is usually a laid-back affair, often including finger foods like tacos, nachos and chips and salsa. This theme is perfect for soirees that typically take place during warmer months like pool parties or early summer graduation celebrations. Decorate an outdoor space with brightly colored Mexican paper banners, altar candles -- even a piñata! Serve food on festive platters, and mix plenty of margaritas for adult guests. Make churros -- a popular Mexican sweet treat -- and serve them for dessert.
Hosting a garden-themed event is a great way to use foliage and blooms to your advantage as natural party décor. Tea parties, brunches and luncheons are all commonly held in gardens, and since wedding season takes place during the spring and summer months, this theme is also a popular choice for nuptials and bridal showers. Of course, high school and college graduations are also commonly held in the spring, and there's no better way to celebrate these scholarly achievements than throwing an outdoor party in an attractive space that's large enough to invite the entire graduating class.
Since a real-life safari involves many different animals, have fun with this theme indoors by setting up stuffed animals or life-size cutouts of giraffes, elephants and tigers. For those who can afford it, have the party in the backyard and bring live animals for a petting zoo! A safari theme is a popular choice for children's birthday parties and baby showers, but adults can get in on the fun, too. Serve food on wooden platters and bowls, and decorate with animal prints, burlap and -- if you can find them -- antlers and tusks! Grill out and make kabobs as an entrée and whip up a jungle-themed cocktail or juice to drink. As guests are departing, give kids animal crackers and adults trail mix to enjoy after the event is over.
A beach-themed event is usually an outdoor soiree hosted poolside or by the ocean. However, certain beach elements, like seashells, can be brought inside to decorate no matter how far your home is from the shore. Almost any event can benefit from a beach theme, whether it's a wedding, birthday or shower. It's possible to expand the theme to include pirates, fish or elements of a Hawaiian luau. You can even host a formal event with a beach theme -- just be sure to provide guests with flip-flops if you're near an actual beach, as alcohol and high heels that sink in the sand can be a hazardous combo!
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- Martineau, Chantal. "Our 10 Favorite Prohibition Cocktails." Food Republic. Sept. 26, 2011. (Feb. 9, 2012) http://www.foodrepublic.com/2011/09/26/our-10-favorite-prohibition-cocktails
- New Advent. "Altar Candles." (Feb. 9, 2012) nhttp://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01347a.htm
- USHistory. "Flappers." (Feb. 9, 2012) http://www.ushistory.org/us/46d.asp