One of the first things I do when I am planning a party or an event is to think of the theme. Once I have that narrowed down, it makes gathering decorations, choosing the invitations and planning the menu easier. But how do you decide what to do and how do you make it different from the regular parties people go to?
Your best resource is the Internet. But I am probably getting ahead of myself at this point. You can type in party ideas and become more overwhelmed than you were before you started searching. Here are some tips I have for deciding on your theme.
First, who is the party for? Is it a birthday party for your child or a bridal shower for a friend? Depending on what it is, your direction is going to be much different. I’ll start with the bridal shower example and then I will work on the birthday party one.
For my sister’s bridal shower, she didn’t really care what the theme was as long as it wasn’t beach related. She is getting married on an island and with all of the beach themed things she was doing for the wedding, she asked us to stay away from that theme. So the first thing I would say is ask the guest of honor if they have any preferences. Some brides will appreciate the theme being carried through to their shower, while others will have no opinion (or even a chance to give an opinion!) as to what their shower is going to be like. I think it’s always nice to ask the bride if there is anything she doesn’t want, but she shouldn’t have full control over the shower.
For a kid’s birthday party, more likely than not, they will have an opinion on what the theme should be. It will probably be an age appropriate cartoon character or superhero from their favorite shows or movies. Some kids will bounce back and forth between themes and some will be headstrong and know what they want months ahead of time!
Hopefully after talking to the guest of honor you can get an idea of a theme. But what happens when the bride or birthday boy/girl says “I don’t know” or they can’t make up their mind? This is where creativity comes in and most people scramble to figure out what to do. For me, the first thing I do at this point is think about the person. Is the bride someone who likes to travel? Does the birthday kid play a sport or have a favorite movie? If it helps, write down words that come to mind when you think about the guest of honor. This can help during different parts of the planning process.
At this point, you can start to put the pieces together and come up with a theme. Once you have an idea for a theme, this is when you can start googling the theme. Beware, you may become completely overwhelmed. When we were planning my sister’s shower, my mom and I both had out iPads out and spent a good two hours looking at ideas for favors, decorations and games. You can get completely wrapped up in this part. I would suggest looking at the Internet to give you a start, not to get all your ideas. You don’t want to just copy someone else’s work – after all, each person is unique and you want the shower or party to reflect your guest of honor, not someone else!
While looking for ideas, write down things that you like. Once you have a good list, you can start to narrow down what you can and can’t do. Make sure to keep the budget in mind. For my sister’s shower, we originally had ideas like having a purse cake as a centerpiece for each table. However, when we saw how much that would cost, we realized that having me make the shoe and purse centerpieces would be more cost efficient. (See scrapsecrets.wordpress.com for pictures). We also discussed having a make your own cupcake bar, but with all the other things that we had going on, we had to scrap that. But, I am keeping that in mind for a future shower or party.
After you go through your list, start using your creativity. You can certainly base it off of someone else’s ideas, but put your own spin on it. A friend of mine told me that her daughter was invited to a Dora birthday party where the mom made the invitation to look like the character Backpack from the show instead of buying store bought invitations. It was cute and gave the party a very personalized touch. It doesn’t have to be anything difficult!
Try to carry the theme through as much of the party or event as possible. For example, we used shoe/photo boxes that had shoes and purses on them for the base of the centerpiece and then placed the homemade shoes and purses on top. We picked colors for the shower (mostly pink and black) and all but two pairs of the shoes were in the scheme. Everything doesn’t have to be matchy matchy, but it does have to flow.
Themes don’t have to be about objects either. You can base your party around your guest of honor’s favorite colors. Maybe he or she likes a certain color. You can plan the party around that color and do fun things like have food and drinks that are only in that color scheme.
Have fun when trying to come up with a theme. If you get frustrated, step away and come back later. Sometimes working on something else takes the pressure off and when you aren’t thinking about it, the right idea will come to you! More often than not, that’s how I get my ideas. I will be at work doing something that has nothing to do with planning and a great idea will pop into my head. Feel free to leave comments or questions if you need help coming up with a theme!