The Weekend Five: Tips For Throwing Fabulous Theme Parties

Getting ready for a hipster-themed party, circa 2010. (Yes, I brought a Chuck Klosterman book.)

On my way to a hipster-themed party, circa 2010. Very amateur costume, but fun night!

Because my job requires a lot of event coordination, it may not come as a surprise to you that I love planning theme parties. Ever since I began inviting groups of friends to my college dorm, I found that I had a knack for hosting, and over the years, I fell in love with planning as well. I have hosted my fair share of theme parties (mainly in college, but I’m sure they will make a resurgence in my life someday), and I’ve enjoyed getting friends together to have fun while wearing ridiculous costumes.

Planning and hosting a theme party isn’t as challenging as it looks. This week, I’ll provide a little how-to guide for putting together your own soiree with as little stress as possible!

Oh, and whatever you do, avoid these five terrible party themes!

The Weekend Five: Tips For Throwing Fabulous Theme Parties

1. Create a twist on an old, worn-out theme.
So you’ve been to too many “decades” themed parties, filled solely with hippies and people from the ’80s? Base your party around a different time in history — the 1860s, perhaps, or even the future — or encourage party-goers to dress as their favorite celebrity from another decade. The first theme party I threw was a “random decades” party, which included a beatnik, Audrey Hepburn, Michael Jackson and Daisy Duke, among others, and I will never forget some of the great costumes that night. If you’re going to go traditional, give your guests ideas for interesting ways to avoid the usual clichΓ©s.

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2. Broaden your theme.
If you choose something too specific, your guests may not know what to expect, and you may become overwhelmed trying to plan for it all! For example, “extraterrestrials from France during the Revolution” might be too narrow a theme for anyone to follow, but “extraterrestrials,” “France” or “late 1700s” are much broader themes to select costumes, decorations and food for.

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Fishie cupcakes I made for a nautical-themed party, 2012.

Fishie cupcakes I made for a nautical-themed party, 2012.

3. Use Pinterest for inspiration.
The Internet is a fantastic place for party-planners in this day and age! When I decided to throw a nautical-themed birthday party, I turned to Pinterest to see what others had done for food and decorations, and this definitely took some of the stress away. Planning the party took up a lot of my (and my roommates’) creativity, but getting some inspiration online for cool cupcakes and decorations made it much easier to work because I was no longer planning from a completely blank canvas. Creating your own boards to pin the best ideas will help keep you organized and on top of things. (My fish cupcakes received a lot of positive feedback, by the way, and were a lot of fun to make!)

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4. Choose a theme that allows easy costume planning.
Yes, you can plan an “extraterrestrials from France during the Revolution” party, but how will your guests know what to wear? (Hint: They won’t.) I have found that the most successful theme parties I have planned or attended had easy-to-create costumes that wouldn’t break the guests’ budgets. For example, during my sophomore year, I attended a hipster party, where nearly everyone who attended already had part of the costume in their closets (and simply drew on ridiculous facial hair or bought a pair of non-prescription glasses for good measure). A lot of great theme parties allow guests to wear clothing they already own as the base of their costumes, with accessories to tie into the theme. This helps people get more excited about your party and encourages everyone to participate. (Because what is sadder than a theme party where nobody except the host dressed up?)

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1317774503269_76603315. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It can be challenging – and expensive! – to throw an elaborately themed party without at least some assistance. Encourage guests to brink snacks or drinks of choice, as this not only helps you out but also brings more creativity to your party. If you know that your friend is already bringing cupcakes to the party, then you don’t have to worry about making/buying them yourself. Provide the staples but if friends offer to help you cook, bake or decorate, don’t be prideful. Say yes! πŸ™‚

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What are some of the best theme parties you’ve held over the years? What tips do you have for throwing fabulous parties?

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