Ideas for the Party Human

Tip 1: Think up a Theme

Posted on: October 5, 2009

In The Great Key, I promised to start on the 7 tips for successful party planning.  So, today, I’ll start with No. 1:  “Think up a theme.”

     One thing so many parties lack today is a theme.  It is possible to have a fun party without a theme, but in general these parties are mere carbon copies of each other, usually a dull mixture of food (pizza, chips/dips, etc.), drink (pop, Koolaid, or worse–alcohol) and music (usually the host’s personal collection of CDs).  There is no action here, and very little thinking.  If the guests are poor conversationalists, then the party is dubbed a flop. 

            Even if one guest considers himself “the life of the party,” you should remember that you are not providing an audience for show-offs.  You want everyone, even the most shy or timid, to have a good time.  Few things are more rewarding than bringing out the best in a “wallflower” or shy person.  This is all more easily accomplished if you have a good theme and plenty of things to do for everyone.

            The easiest way to think up things to do at a party is to first choose a theme.  This personalizes the event and sets a tone.  Perhaps only Molly Cavanaugh would throw a spelunking party in her basement, or only Luke Smith would think of a Star Wars Convention in an empty drive-in theater lot.  You can bet one thing:  With a unique theme, your guests will remember you and your party much longer than they’ll recall What’s-his-name’s nondescript chips-pop-and-CDs evening. 

            But just how do you go about choosing this all-important theme?

            Well, I can’t give you a step-by-step process, but I will suggest some hints.  Think about your favorite subject, something that really fascinates you.  Is there a way you can build a party around it?  Or what about a favorite activity–such as a sport, hobby or game?  Can you use that in an interesting setting for a party?  Is there a piece of a movie, TV show or book that you would like to re-create?  Hopefully, these questions can help lead you to choosing a workable theme.

            Just remember, the possibilities are endless!  You can pick a time in history, an exotic place (real or imaginary), or a season of the year.  Don’t forget things like nursery rhymes, famous sayings, etc. 

            A word of caution:  High school seniors are fond of choosing a popular song title for a theme for their proms, graduations and such.  This is nice for these kinds of occasions, but for personal parties a song usually doesn’t work as well.  There is not enough meat in it.  Say you pick the song “Let the Good Times Roll” for the theme for your party.  Where does that leave you?  What kind of food or decorations does that suggest?  What kind of games?  Possibly you could take the last word, “roll,” and turn it into a bowling party or a motorcycle-riding outing, but that’s about all I could come up with.  Nevertheless, I am not totally ruling out song themes; since this is your party, you pick what you want, and if you find a song that really works–by all means, use it!

            Now, with your own unique theme chosen, the really fun part of your party-planning begins.

            Stage a brainstorming session with your family, co-hosts or whomever you’d like to help you plan your party.  State your theme and elaborate a little on it until everyone present has a clear feeling for your idea.  Then put your heads together.  Ideas for invitations, activities, food and decorations that fit the theme will come quickly and easily.  Your parents might know where they can get hold of a fog machine for atmosphere, or your friend might have some authentic German artifacts, or your co-hostess might know a game you don’t that would be perfect.  Listen to all suggestions, even if your first reaction is negative; you may find some value in them later.  The secret to successful brainstorming is not to make anyone feel that their ideas are stupid.  Once that feeling gets out, the idea session will die and all creativity will be suppressed.

            In the posts that follow, you will see dozens of examples of parties emerging from different themes.  You’re more than welcome to copy some of these–that’s what they are here for– but if you come up with a great one of your own I’d love to hear about it.  Just leave a comment, and tell me all about it.


1 Response to "Tip 1: Think up a Theme"

Sorry, this got out of order! I was looking for it and found in in Drafts. So now you’ve got the first 3 Tips!

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