If you’ve been paying attention to social media lately, you might notice that themed items are getting a lot of attention. Holographic styling, mermaid toast, Pokemon accessories—and how many of us flocked to Starbucks to try that mythical Unicorn Frappuccino?
A theme is a great way to tie your event together and create a sense of unity. The problem is that not all events are suited for themes… or are they? For any event planner considering using a theme at their next event, check out some of these ideas and tips:
1. Take Advantage of National Holidays
Take inspiration from the festivities going on around you, intrepid event planner. Halloween, various winter celebrations, July 4th, or even St. Patrick’s Day are some of the holidays that you can lean on to get attendees pumped.
While it’s important not to get too gimmicky—most people will have been unable to avoid Christmas advertisements during the months of October, November, and December—consider how integrating a holiday theme could give your attendees a break without taking away from productivity. While Halloween might be overdone at fall parties or social gatherings, it’s very unusual for a conference to get in on the spooky fun!
Some simple red, white, and blue snack items during a break can remind attendees of Independence Day and could become the topic of conversation that gets them chatting with one another. Or consider pairing up with an event partner to host a themed party—they’re often very popular because it gives attendees something to plan for and look forward to.
2. Bring in Some Color
Sometimes a more casual theme is ill-suited for the event, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use this classy, simple way to pep up the event. Any seasoned event planner knows that the décor can often make or break your event—so why not focus on that as your theme?
Using mono-colored décor, furniture, or giveaway swag can make your event look put together, modern, and provide a great photo opportunity for attendees. Take All-White dinner events, for example, where a dress code of white clothing, and all-white décor, place settings and even food create a light, summery atmosphere for the exclusive dining event.
If going all-out for one color seems like overkill, don’t worry—you can tone it down and still achieve your desired aesthetic. Black and white décor with a single pop of color can be very effective, or you can use two or three colors in eye-pleasing combinations. If you don’t have much budget for décor, or can’t alter the venue too much, that’s fine as well. Consider using one focus color in all of your signage, documents, swag, or other objects to infuse your event with the color theme.
3. Make a Reference with Popular Culture
Cast your net into the rapid social media stream to see what’s up and coming, and source some inspiration for a new theme. Two things to keep in mind when you’re doing this: How relevant is this to my attendees? and Are people tired of it yet?
Superheroes have been really big in recent years, but you should be careful of joining in on this fad because of the rapidly descending superhero fatigue. As well, you should avoid confusing attendees who might not know what you’re referencing. Keeping them in the loop is key to keeping them engaged.
James Bond is popular and well known, but instead of doing a whole 007 event, consider having a black-tie dinner for sponsors, and incorporating elements like graphics with the famous gun barrel sequence, or place cards where attendee names are listed in the well-known Bond. James Bond format. While not all your attendees will catch the references, you’ll still be creating a cohesive event, and have fun Easter eggs for attendees who are in the know.
4. Time Periods are a Crowd Pleaser
Periods of history with very strongly associated images or aesthetics—such as the glitzy roaring 20s, colorful, free-willed 60s, or kitschy 90s—can be great concepts to start styling your event.
This can be a great way to incorporate activities into your theme. You can take inspiration from the time period, or use clever naming conventions to invoke the era. For example, if you’re holding a city bike tour for attendees, you could fit it to an old-timey theme by calling it a Velocipede tour. And a disco after-party would only be fitting for a 70s themed event! Parties with time period themes are often very popular because these costumes tend to be easy to put together, and attendees will have an idea of what to expect.
However, committing your entire event to a time period theme can be unwieldy, particularly in the case of long or corporate events. In this case, you can bring hints of the theme into sessions and give attendees a glimpse of your other planned activities by turning your focusing the look of your event branding around the theme. For example, you can style your event app, website, and attendee badges around the theme for a more subtle touch.
5. An Event Planner is a Mythical Animal
The Unicorn trend has taken us all by storm—there’s drinks, accessories, and even events that are all focused around this horned fantastic beast. So why not expand to other mythical animals as well?
For an event planner looking to give their event a little pizzazz, it’s hard to go wrong with a mermaid-themed event. Not only are they all the rage at the moment, but it’s also really easy to invoke this particular creature. Blue/green and purple are the go-to colors, and it can be a great excuse to break out some underwater decorations or feature a sustainable seafood menu. There’s a whole gamut of untapped mythical beasts that could be your inspiration for the next big thing.
While you can definitely go all-out on these, as an event planner it can be difficult to sell, for example, an entirely leprechaun themed event. Instead, there are many ways to subtly incorporate these themes. Take inspiration from color schemes, gently decorate a venue to invoke location (an elf-inspired forest party to soothe the frazzled post-conference attendee, for example), or ask your attendees to get in on it by dressing up or participating in some activities.