There are all sorts of reasons to host a themed party (graduation, a birthday, holidays, or just because you’re that fancy friend), but you want to make sure everything comes together in the end. Otherwise, people are going to talk about your party in ways you’d rather they didn’t. If you want to be known for your amazing themed parties, here are some tips to get you started:
1. Research Your Theme (And Stick To It)
This might sound like an obvious tip (of course you have to go by your theme), but there’s always the temptation to loosely adhere to a theme to save time and hassle. For example, if you have a James Bond theme, you can always tell everyone to dress nicely and serve some shaken and not stirred drinks (milkshakes?), maybe go with the usual savvy spy theme, but what would set that apart from any other spy movie? How would anyone know it’s specifically James Bond?
If you tell everyone to wear classy clothing, there’s not much to distinguish your party from a regular suit-and-tie event or a Great Gatsby party. Make sure you add little nods to your theme throughout the decorations, the food, the attire, and the music. Leave your guests with no doubt what sort of party they’re at.
2. Plan The Food Ahead Of Time
Sure, it’s easier to order catering from your favorite restaurant or have everyone bring their own dish, but that takes away the fun of theming your food. If you want your themed party to be truly immersive, everything will work together to add to the overall picture—including the food.
Themed food can be anything from regular snacks with witty puns and winks to your theme (like milkshakes for the shaken and not stirred beverages) to food that is actually mentioned in the movie, book, game, etc. you are basing your theme off of. Example: a Pride & Prejudice themed party might include elegant dishes they would have served at 1800s dinner parties, or you can serve tea or coffee on your finest china.
3. Assemble A Playlist
What’s a good party without an awesome soundtrack? Luckily, streaming services like Spotify make it easy to put together a custom playlist from any type of music you can possibly think of. Just like you don’t want to skimp on the food, don’t break your theme for the soundtrack either; after all, who’s going to feel like they’re in a classy spy movie or at an 1800s ball when techno-pop music is blaring over the speakers?
If you don’t have the type of music you need handy, don’t worry. That’s why you’re going to spend time ahead of the party sorting through Spotify, YouTube, or your favorite music site for songs to match your theme. Bonus: if your theme is based off a movie, you have a ready-made soundtrack to use!
4. DIY Your Decor
Unless you’re willing to scour Amazon for every themed decoration (and good luck if it’s a theme that doesn’t have a lot of merch) and pay all the money that will entail, it’s a good idea to just . . . DIY everything. Seriously, DIY is awesome and simpler than it looks—it’s not all crochet toys and handmade jewelry.
Try this: search “DIY [your theme] decorations” on Pinterest and see what you come up with. I’m betting you find more decorations than you’ll ever need and plenty of them will be easy enough for even the most catastrophic crafter to accomplish.
5. Theme The Invites
You don’t have to wait till the day of the party to get everyone in the spirit of your theme. Send out custom invites via whatever method best suits your theme: a Hogwart’s acceptance letter for Harry Potter parties, cursive-penned stationary sealed with wax for time period parties, a treasure map marking your house for a pirate theme . . . you get the idea.
Once again, Pinterest proves to be a gold mine of ideas if you’re stumped on what sort of invitation will match your theme.
6. Make Sure Everyone Is Dressing Up
Nothing’s more embarrassing than being the only one dressed up at your own party. Sure, you can rock that costume all night long, but it’s more fun if everyone is as involved as you are. Make certain to include that it’s a themed dress-up party in your invite and send reminders to all your friends at least a week before it starts. Check in and see who’s willing to play along and who’s not.
If (almost) everyone will play into the theme by dressing the part, great! You can move on to the next step.
7. Rock Your Costume
Once you’ve established that everyone will get into character with you, it’s time to craft and hone your costume until you have one authentic enough to pass for the real deal. Some costumes will take less time than others. A Friends party is only going to need some 90s-themed clothes you can find at your nearest thrift store while other themes will require more time.
Again, search Pinterest for any costume ideas if you’re stuck and plan for the amount of time you will need to get it all ready.
8. Plan Themed Activities
A good rule of party planning in general is to make sure you have the activities planned out. You don’t have to go so far as to make seating charts (unless you’re doing a murder mystery theme that requires everyone to play a character), but a rough map of what all you can do to keep guests entertained is a safe bet. Most parties will go something like greet / mingle / food / games, but you’re welcome to improvise your own schedule.
The important part, no matter how the party goes, is to spice things up with some themed activities. This can be as simple as a movie-based board game or as complex as the aforementioned murder mystery. Whatever the activities, they should match your given theme—something tells me James Bond or Elizabeth Bennett wouldn’t be playing beer pong.
9. Have A Cleanup Plan
This one isn’t so much for the guests as it is for your peace of mind, especially if you’re hosting at your house. Decide what time you will need the party to wind down and plan to taper off activities around the time everyone will be heading out. You can leave out snacks for people who want to mingle, but cleaning up the rest of the food as you go will save you time later on.
In addition, check with friends before the party to see who’s willing to volunteer as cleanup crew. After all, you’re providing the entertainment and the food; the least they can do is wash a few dishes.
10. Take Plenty Of Pictures For Social Media
After you put all that time and effort into bringing your vision to life, you deserve a pat on the back (and a little gloating). The compliments people give you at the party are nice, but Instagram-worthy photos that you can paste all over social media helps keep that glow going a little longer. They’re also memories your friends can look back on and say, “Oh, yeah, I went to that party! It was amazing!”