8 Tips For A Great Themed Party
Themed Parties are a fun way to celebrate key milestones and events. Significant birthdays, Christmas functions, engagement parties, school reunions and even weddings can be a whole lot more craic when there’s a theme!
This time 5 years ago I had a “Hippy” Party for my 50th birthday….being born in the mid-1960s. I’m not exactly a party person and I’m 100% certain I am not the most fun person you know. In fact, I’m probably one of the least fun people you know. My idea of a good time is curled up by the fire on a winter’s night with a good book and a steaming hot mug of hot chocolate. But despite all of that, I’m not sure about anyone else ….but I really enjoyed that “Hippy” Party.
I learned a lot from organising it (with the wonderful help of family and friends) so the planning was never overwhelming. When all of this Covid-19 malarkey is hopefully a distant bad memory, these tips may help you throw the best themed post-Covid party ever!!
1. Send a fun themed Invitation
Pick a theme and send a catchy themed invitation. This will get guests excited – start the anticipation early. If your themed event requires a certain dress code, this is where you need to set the expectations and give people some time. Need some party theme ideas to get you started? Here are a few ideas (other than the Hippy Night I chose):
Although it’s now easy to send an invitation through social media, I still love getting a hard-copy invitation in the post. There’s nothing better than seeing your name on a stamp-addressed-envelope knowing someone went to all that trouble. So, I prefer handmade or shop-bought paper invitations. Believe it or not, a common mistake is to get too many invitations made. One per couple…or even per household is plenty.
This is what I designed for my Hippy Party using Vistaprint:
2. Choose a great Venue
Location is so important. Obviously choose a venue that you and your guests can get to easily. A location with parking facilities nearby is a must. Your guests won’t thank you if they have to walk through town dressed as Minnie Mouse!!
Before you lock in a venue, make sure you ask the venue whether you are allowed to style the room. Also, be sure to ask what time you can access the venue to start setting up. If you are unable to access the venue with enough time to decorate and style the venue for your party theme, the pressure of planning the best event ever will be super stressful. Luckily I chose a great hotel in my home town, The Carraig, which our family had used for parties numerous times before.
Food and drinks are also so important for any party. Serving fun, easy-to-eat, delicious food is the most important catering tip to remember when organising any party. For my party, the hotel provided a selection of sandwiches and salads in addition to cocktail sausages, mini spring rolls and chicken goujons. Desserts also went down well (e.g. apple-pies, pavlovas) with tea & coffee. And of course no Irish party would be complete without a full cash bar.
The more decorations, the merrier! Decor can be a pricey item for your wallet when it comes to themed parties. Get your creative juices going for your decor and don’t be afraid to let inspiration strike. I used a 1960s Love Bus Box to hold guest’s birthday cards and small gifts received.
Decorating Rule #1: Try to cover every surface (all 3 dimensions)
Decorating Rule #2: Go Big Or Go Home!
Make an impact with your decor. It is not necessarily about quantity as it is quality and thoughtfulness (though quantity never hurts).
For my Hippy Party, as well as creating online a large poster of me aged 5 and aged 50 (from Zazzle) I got some items at Woodies Party Zone Online (e.g. flower power tablecloths, napkins, posters) with the rest from Euro stores (e.g. balloons, 60s sunglasses, posters, confetti, paper plates and drink cups). Family and friends helped me with the decorating before the party (….and the all-important taking down the following day!)
4. Costumes to transport guests to a different time/place
If you’re going to do it, do it properly! 😂 The success of a great themed event comes down to how well you manage to transport your guests to a new time/place. Immerse the guests in the theme with costumes – for example, if you’re hosting a Hollywood Glitz themed party, guests should feel as though they are in a glitzy Hollywood night club when they mingle with each other. Set an example yourself! I got my 1960s PVC boots from Amazon and 60s flower power outfit and wig from Little Star Parties.
Encouraging guests to come in fancy dress is a sure-fire way to build momentum before and at the event. Fancy dress can heighten the anticipation of the event as well as the overall “craic” on the night. Guests will also be far more engaged as they become participators, rather than just attendees.
I was thrilled that so many turned up with great costumes. I ran a “best dressed” competition (male & female) to reward those that really went all out. We had a lot of laughs. Not everyone will come in a costume, so some suitable thematic props on the tables can help. I chose 1960s Hippy sunglasses, peace necklaces and blow up guitars which went down well.
A music band or DJ can make or break any party. We’ve all been at parties where the band has “blown the head off you” ….and not in a good way. Ask friends for recommendations for a band. I great band will play a mix of tunes and have everyone bopping on the floor all night. Some of the best bands “send ‘em home sweatin’”. I went with a band called Loose Cannons that were excellent and a pleasure to deal with.
Order the cake in advance so that you do not get delayed on the final day. If you have time bake your own cake only if you really are aware of the baking nuances one should venture into this area on their own. I was so lucky to be gifted not only a fabulous home-baked themed cake by my bestie, Anne-Marie….
............but also over 50 themed colourful and tasty cupcakes that we set out beside the cake in the shape of the number “50”:
When planning the music choices, you should think about the group you’re playing for, the time of day, and the volume. What’s the goal of the playlist? Are you trying to create a chill, relaxing atmosphere where people can talk? Add some jazz, downtempo electronica, or acoustic classics to play at low volume. Or are you trying to nudge your gathering into a full-on dance party? Work your way up to songs with high tempo and popular dance hits.
I spoke with the band beforehand and explained the 60’s Hippy theme. They then crafted a playlist from scratch, to set the vibe, tempo, theme, and all the ebbs and flows that come with it.
Here’s a photo of some cousins busting some moves:
8. Photos & Mementoes
A good idea is to have a photo opportunity (anyone who knows me know I LOVE photo opportunities!!) whether that’s a photo-booth or similar. Giving guests an opportunity to take home a memory of the night is always fun. Plus, by creating a fun themed photo opportunity it will encourage guests to share their experience with you on social media too!
On each table I placed disposable vintage-style cameras and encouraged guests to take lots of photos of their group. We collected them for processing and although the quality wasn’t super, those cameras provided some fun photos to treasure:
I had “spot prizes” for best costume (male & female, best dancer (male & female) etc. so that several people went home with something. I think of these little party “favours” as a way to extend the experience long after it has ended. Themed party favours can be fun, quirky, cheap, and dispensable, or you could give extravagant and thoughtful favours. For the Hippy Party I went with 60s themed music DVDs, Quality Street, Milk Tray and some inexpensive gifts picked up in the Euro shop.
As a memento for myself, I got a signature age (50) block on Ebay which guests signed and/or left messages on with a provided black marker. This is a fantastic keepsake that I treasure. A lovely memory of those who made my 50th birthday party special.
Remember the basics of a great party and have fun with your theme. To cover the basics you’ll need good food, good tunes and a great bar. The overall atmosphere will be amplified if you ensure the guests are happy with the key ingredients first.
So, whether you are celebrating a milestone birthday, corporate Christmas party or end of year function, a themed event is a great way to engage guests and show them a great time. And don’t forget to enjoy it yourself!!!
Bucket List Items Ticked Off in the above Blog post
Number 19 - Organise a Themed Party
Other Blog Posts
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
Blog 12 - Hong Kong, China
Blog 17 - Beijing, Xi'an & Shanghai, China
Blog 19 - California, USA
Blog 27 - Scotland
Blog 28 - Barbados
Blog 29 - Canada
Blog 30 - Alaska
Blog 31 - Everglades, Florida
Have you ever hosted a themed party? Tell me about your experience in the comments section below.
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My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!