Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘brainstorming

            This is a unique party idea that can be used with endless variations, only five of which I will describe in future posts.  This type of party will succeed best with teenagers or young adults who are imaginative and dramatically oriented.  An ideal group might be a Thespians’ Club or a number of avid readers and/or would-be writers who are particularly interested in a certain genre, such as one of the variations listed below.  The more creative and uninhibited the guests are, the more fun this party will be.

            This party is based on a game called “Capture the Flag,” which, stated simply, works something like this:  There are two teams, each of which has its own “headquarters” and “flag” (or other symbolic item).  The object is to steal the flag from the other team’s headquarters–without being tagged–and bring it to the players’ own headquarters.  When a player is tagged, he is either put in “prison” or made to become a member of the other team.  Generally, one team sends several players out to create diversions–chasing and tagging, etc.–while one or more players attempt to capture the coveted flag.  Of course, a guard always remains at the “home” headquarters to protect their own flag.  When one team is successful in the above-stated object, that team wins.

            This basic format for play is enhanced with a theme variation and any extra rules you, as the host or hostess,  may wish to invent.  Amplify the theme chosen by using appropriate costumes, props and setting.  In the following posts, I will share examples of five variations on this theme:  Fantasy, Medieval, Western, Mystery and Science Fiction.  Other variations could come from any period in history, whenever there are two well-identified opposing sides, such as Yankees and Confederates, Revolutionaries and Redcoats, Gangsters and Police, etc.  Or, use some purely fictional enemies found in literature.  The key is to choose a theme that the guests are keenly interested in, so they will be more likely to let their imaginations take fire.

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.


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