Create a Theme for Your Next Event
Remember the college days—or, ahem, the Junior League days—of creating a theme for every party? It was always a riff on something ‘80s or a theme that rhymed, such as Athletic Pros and Cheerleader Hoes. Oh, and god forbid, a Foam Party. Well, now that you are more mature than that, how does one pick a theme for an event? Leave the cheesy ideas to the Real Housewives, and follow these tips.
Like your menu, an easy way to theme your event is to look at the time of year. Plan a Rosè on the Roof affair in the mid-summer, when the crisp pink wine keeps you cool, or a Cookie and Hot Cocoa exchange in the winter to take off the chill. I host an annual Punch Party in the summer, with a warm weather-inspired beverage and easy summer bites like watermelon and feta skewers, pasta salad, and lemon meringue pie. In the dead of winter, I’ve always wanted to throw a Beer & Cheese Pairing party, so we can don cozy sweaters and basically pretend we’re in Switzerland chowing down on raclette.
Base It on the Food or Drink You Want to Make
Have you ever picked out a pair of shoes then designed an outfit around it? Of course you have. Take that approach to theming your soiree. Is there a recipe you’re dying to make? A tried-and-true drink you want to serve your guests? Say, for example, you’re really into making tiki-style drinks like a Singapore Sling. Make your theme tropical resort or tiki-inspired luau, and there you go! If you have cases of Italian wine to pour, host a Night at the Villa and transport your guests to Tuscany with Mediterranean fare and Chianti. This works for food, too: A rum cake may set off the idea to have a Jamaican-themed party with jerk chicken, reggae music, and well, those herbs.
Pick the Music
Sometimes the best place to start is with the vibe you want. I happen to still love ‘90s music—hello, Spice Girls!—and my hubs can’t get enough of old school hip-hop like Biggie. That can easily translate into a ‘90s jams party, where you can invite guests to wear their favorite outfits from high school/college/wherever they were in 1996. I actually did this, and ensembles included My So Called Life, Ricky Martin, Criss-Cross, and an actual D.A.R.E. t-shirt. A simple playlist and you’ve got a dance party. That also works if you want to stick with instrumental classical music. Maybe that leads to a black tie affair with Champagne and caviar.
Look at Popular Culture
Is there a movie trending right now? Favorite television show? Beloved musician? Consider the things you like in the entertainment sphere, and you can choose a theme from there. Game of Thrones and Westworld have clearly given way to many a parties. But even shows like Big Little Lies have inspiration; why not throw an Audrey & Elvis evening like in the season finale? Love the 1960s like me? That’s easy: Go with a Mad Men or a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel soiree.
Take a Meme and Run With It
Are you constantly trolling the internet, or at least, Instagram? Whether you admit it or not, you probably are, and that means you’ve come across all sort of creative inspiration. The Fat Jewish is a total goldmine for ideas, and his wine names alone can theme plenty of gatherings. Take a cheeky or campy idea and run with it. Dress as your favorite meme could be a good one, or maybe you host a game night to play “What Do You Meme?”
Highlight Your Skill
Do you have a special skill you use as a party trick? That can be a great place to start when figuring out how to put together your festivities. I have been wanting to host a Tea and Tarot party, where some lady friends come over for herbal teas, mini scones, and a Tarot card reading. (I can, in fact, read Tarot cards.) Even if you don’t have a skill, you can always hire a magician, chef to help you make pasta, psychic—whatever fits your fancy to design your theme around.
Let the Guest of Honor Guide You
If you’re throwing a party in honor of a friend or family member, let their personality be your guide. This especially comes into play for bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and baby showers. Think about what the guest of honor likes. I threw a Chic Chateau party for a friend’s bridal shower last year. She is quite the Francophile, and I knew the Chateau theme would lead to feminine decor and floral-print dresses. Plus, of course, Laduree macarons and Champagne. That’s a fit for any bridal shower if you ask me.
You don’t have to hit your guests over the head with a theme. Keep it broad. Vik and I love to host salons, based on the old-school-style gathering where creatives across industries would meet for drinks, conversation, and to share work. We do that today by inviting interesting people we know—some we are closer to than others—to our apartment and see what happens. We’ve had friends collaborate on business deals, start dating, brainstorm startup ideas, and more just because we put them in the same room.
No Theme at All
We’re all adults here—do we really need a catchy theme to get people to see us? We don’t, and to be honest, a lot of people don’t want to scour the city finding an outfit to fit an obscure theme. Dressing the part also offers a challenge about whether to attend, especially if a guest has another event or plan on the same evening. You can’t exactly go dressed in a lederhosen to a dinner date just because you had an Oktoberfest shindig. And to be perfectly honest, most of the time I don’t know my guests even pick up on the theme. Sometimes it’s better to let guests come as they are, and if you’re subtly connecting the food, beverage, and music, it’s just an added plus for those with attention to detail.