Written by guest blogger: Greg Baldyga, of Horton Grand Hotel
When it comes to planning a party, don’t just stick with the traditional birthday balloons and holiday decorations. Themes can play a central role in the way a party is planned, from influencing the décor to the outfits, and even the dining options. A well-executed theme can be pricey and time-consuming to pull off — that’s why the best themes are versatile and can work with a variety of events, rather than just one.
There’s a simple way to prevent pigeonholing your event theme: avoid linking your party to any specific denomination or event. If you’re grasping at straws on how to do that, here are a few versatile theme ideas you can use for inspiration.
Tie It to a Time Period
Time period themed parties are popular because of their versatility in décor, music, and costume. Here are three classic moments in time you may wish to embody for your next event.
1. Prohibition Era America
Ever since the film The Great Gatsby came out in 2013, people have found a new enthusiasm for hosting extravagant Roaring Twenties themed parties. Characterized by feather boas, flapper dresses, cloche hats, and gangster suits, Gatsby fans everywhere are replicating the glamor and mystique of Prohibition-era America.
Roaring Twenties parties are popular because of their versatility in suiting any season or occasion. From New Year’s Eve bashes to anniversaries to gala fundraisers, tying your event to this time period means you have the freedom and flexibility to do what you want.
2. Western Europe’s Belle Époque
Another popular time period represented in event themes is the Belle Époque that took place in France and Western Europe between 1890 and the First World War. To reference pop culture again, think Moulin Rouge meets Midnight in Paris. We’re talking colors in shades of deep red, dark black, and warm yellow, paired with burlesque dancers, top hat centerpieces, and a cozy ambiance.
While the cancan dancers and socialites may make this theme less appropriate for work functions and parties with children, it can be a fun, risqué theme for an adult birthday party, a New Year’s Eve gala, or a bachelorette celebration.
3. 1960s America
We can’t talk time periods without channeling the flower child vibes of the 1960s. Colors galore are what makes this theme succeed. Tie dye, flower crowns, Volkswagen van cut-outs, and other boho-chic decor will make your guests wonder if they’ve taken a psychedelic drug and stepped back in time. Plus, music for this theme is a breeze — create a playlist featuring The Beatles, The Mamas & the Papas, and Bob Dylan and you’ll have the scene set in no time at all.
While most adults have a firm grasp of what’s involved in the 1960s “hippie era,” this theme will be especially successful for those who actually remember what it was like to be alive during the time period. High school reunions, anniversary parties for couples who met in the decade, and big birthday parties all pair well with this groovy theme.
These three time periods are considered classics, but there are many more fun eras to choose from when crafting an event. You might travel way back in time to ancient Rome for an elegant, chic celebration with décor inspired by the graceful architecture of the time. Or, think more recent and design your event to the tune of the 1990s, complete with the bold colors and iconic pop music from that era.
Focus on a Place
Just as using a time period as the basis for your event works flexibly with any occasion, so too does tying your décor to a geographic location. Here are some well-known locales that make for great event settings.
4. Las Vegas
Make partygoers feel as though they just stepped out on the Vegas strip! Transform your venue into a makeshift casino; complete with poker games, Russian Roulette, slot machines, and more. Play on the hyperbole of the city and make your decorations larger than life. Using red and black, as well as the classic shapes of the four card suits, will make this theme straightforward to accomplish and unforgettable for guests.
Like a Moulin Rouge party, this theme can contain some material — namely gambling — that’s inappropriate to children, the workplace, and certain fundraising efforts. Ensure you know your adult audience, and reserve this theme for adult birthday parties and wedding receptions, or other personal events where you know guests fairly intimately.
5. Arabian Nights
Seek inspiration from the rich culture of the Arabian Peninsula. While cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh are now modern mega-cities comparable to ones around the world, the tradition of those places can be channeled into a versatile event theme. Allow brass lamps and intricately patterned carpets to take the lead in your décor. Guests can be encouraged to wear comfortable saris and silk. Use rich colors and patterns to bring your event space to life, and liven up the mood.
6. An Evening in Paris
This is probably the most popular location-based theme idea out there. Guests will already have so many perceptions of what it means to be in Paris, and you can play up those expectations when planning your event. Transform iconic aspects of the city into Eiffel Tower centerpieces, macaron-laden dessert tables, and delicate lights that sparkle over your event like a sky full of stars. Paris’ inherent romanticism makes this an ideal theme for weddings, high school proms, and anniversary dinners.
When you design your event after a special and memorable location, you open a world of possibilities for flexible themes. Your next birthday party or gala may be inspired by the rainforests of Brazil, with a bright color palette based in shades of green. You may take your corporate event out of the office and onto Broadway, with glamorous décor that blends the sophistication of New York City with the excitement and drama of the theater. You don’t have to limit yourself to well-known travel destinations. Try thinking outside the box to some of your favorite places, or regions you’ve always wanted to visit — you may uncover the perfect event theme.
Bonus Theme: Pick a Color, Any Color
Basing your event around a single color, or palette of colors, is the best way to ensure your theme is versatile and accommodating to all occasions, ages, and groups. For classy elegance, try a black and white themed party. Or, select your colors based on the season of the event (i.e. cold color tones in the winter, pastels in the spring, autumnal shades of red, brown, and yellow in the fall). Unlike the time period or location-based themes, color palette themes are more subtle, meaning they’re versatile enough for an event of any kind, from family reunions to corporate networking events.
Whatever theme you decide, ensure your venue is able to accommodate. Moulin Rouge parties may require a stage for burlesque performers. Arabian night themed events should perhaps be held in an open-air location, to allow for the burning of incense. Choosing a venue with versatile event spaces and helpful staff will go a long way in ensuring your theme, and the event as a whole, is executed flawlessly.
- Party themes on Pinterest
- Party color and themes on Martha Stewart
- 15 unique, unusual, and fantastic fundraising event ideas on Eventbrite
- Event themes on BizBash
Contributed By: Greg Baldyga has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years. He has worked with Horton Grand Hotel for over 15 of those years. As the General Manager his day-to-day focus and passion is leading his team to find better ways to serve their guests. Greg is a very positive and approachable leader who can often be heard saying “Make it Grand”.