Create a party theme that inspires you, and you’re well on your way to planning a party that inspires your guests. The seven idea categories that follow were designed to stimulate your creativity and guide you in conceiving your unique party theme. Each category includes a definition, a common example, and at least one option illustrating how you might think differently about the category.
The ambiance is, basically, the mood the environment encourages; the mood is the state of mind or feeling you want your audience to have during your party. Whatever theme you choose, you want to be purposeful about the ambiance and mood you are creating. Ambiances such as “lounge” might be conducive to an easy-going, casual chic, I’m-partying-with-class, type mood. “Festive,” on the other hand, might call up imagery of cheerfully frolicking in a winter wonderland.
Try mixing different ambiances. Just like clothes, not everything goes together well; but sometimes the things that look best in combination don’t exactly match either. Try themes such as a Disneyland After-Hours, where, perhaps, men wear black-and-white tuxedos or suites with a red bow tie to symbolize Mickey Mouse’s colors and women wear cocktail dresses and a red-and-white bow in their hair to symbolize Minnie Mouse. Or, perhaps, use Beauty and the Beast as inspiration. The environment could be a Disney movie type ballroom, but the mood could be more of a club vibe with lights and a DJ.
These are usually community-based and celebrate a particular tradition.
Option 1: Start your own traditional festival. Tap into your own community for ideas and use the basic questions of who, what, when, why, how and where. Give everybody a chance to voice his or her opinion and vote. This will help create greater buy-in for the planning and party. Be upfront about the process and rules for the submission and voting on ideas and about any qualifiers. For example, can the festival be for an imaginary community or cause?
Option 2: Choose a real festival that may be less known to your audience. You can either imitate the festival or use it as inspiration for your own ideas. There are numerous worldwide cultural festivals, music festivals and highly niche festivals that can serve as inspiration for your party them.
A location can be any place or position. Yes, cities are locations, but so is Mt. Fuji, the White House, the set for your favorite talk show, or Area 51.
Option 1: What does a holiday party look like for life on mars or on the peak of Mt. Everest? Choose an interesting location, and you will likely find yourself inspired to do everything differently. You don’t need to be literal. Your theme could be inside the mind of a person you admire or traveling on a beam of light.
Option 2: Choose a common physical location such as Hollywood, but choose a less common period (e.g., Hollywood 2050)
Period of Time
Any unit of time whether it is a brief moment — in the vast expanse of things — or an entire era could serve as theme.
50s, 60s, 70s or 80s party
Consider choosing a celebratory time period such as the opening ceremony of the first Winter Olympics. Or choose a moment in time that may or may not have happened (e.g., Amelia Earhart’s celebration party a few days after completing her 1932 transatlantic flight).
Think of this category loosely. You can do theme parties around certain people, but also, say, movie characters or anime.
Groucho Marx, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, superheroes
Your theme could be as broad as “people who changed the world” or as specific as a particular character. If you saw the movie Neighbors, maybe think along the lines of the Robert De Niro party. Or, perhaps, chose a theme like one-hit wonder bands and have people lip-sync or karaoke to songs that made the charts.
Given that curling is considered a sport, this category could be broadly defined as pretty much anything where you move with skill and typically in a competition.
Football Party Theme —each person wears a jersey of his or her favorite player.
Consider a milder version of the polar plunge or Tougher Mudder, Spartan type obstacle races. For obstacle races, offer different levels of difficulty and make video sports games competitions accessible for those who may not be able to physically compete in the other events. Perhaps, do a country theme night and bring in a mechanical bull or rent an ice skating rink for kids to enjoy. Your theme could be built around the sport theme you choose. If all your competitions are virtual, you may want the whole setting to be high-tech. If you choose a sport more common in another country than yours, then maybe bring in food from that country as well.
Genres (and styles) are usually subcategories of artistic compositions that share similar characteristics. For example, EDM or Hip-Hop might be considered genres of music. There are genres of literature, theater and film, styles of dance and painting, and countless other subcategories of major artistic forms.
Western, Spy (James Bond), Black & White, Fantasy
Arrange your party like a comedy sitcom. Perhaps, it can be in a family home and the entrance to the party could be the back door. (Somehow, in comedy sitcom world, it seems to be OK for some neighbors to walk in to a home without knocking). Maybe, prepare a laugh track, and interview guests. No matter what the people you interview say in response to your question have the laugh-track play. Or, have a large sign that says “laugh” and use your guests as the laugh track. For a mixer, prepare several lines from TV comedy dialogues and write them on strips of paper. Have each person take a strip when they enter the party. Then, have people find somebody they don’t know and start talking to them. Explain that when you call “Action” one person from each pair must read his or her line from the strip of paper. The pairs should then try to incorporate their respective lines naturally in the conversation they were having. Switch partners and repeat.
The categories above are far from comprehensive, but they point to the myriad options of party themes that are available to you. Whatever you do, be creative, and allow others to creatively contribute to your party as much as possible. The more fun you and others have planning your party, the more likely it will be fun.
Stage Lights. Photographer: Daniel Robert. Source: Unsplash
Indak Indak sa Kadalanan 2013 – Kadayawan Festival., Photographer: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ. Source: Flickr. CC 2.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
Feuertheater Firefly. Photographer: Soren. Source: Flickr. CC License 2.0. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
Manly. CCO License (http://creativecommons.org/about/cc0)
Zipline. Photographer, Source: Jumper Bee. All rights reserved.