I have come across many people over the years that tell me they are going to host a themed party or event. I ask what type of decorations they will use and, invariably, they tell me all about their centerpieces… and not much more.
The purpose of a themed party or event is to transport your guests to another place or time — for the illusion to become their reality for a short time. To accomplish this, you have to think about more than just centerpieces. Yes, they are an important piece but by themselves they won’t transport anyone into your theme.
A theme (i.e. Victorian, Tropical, Vegas, Country Garden, Western, etc…) should trigger visions, moods and feelings in your mind as soon as you say it or write it. If it doesn’t, pick another theme. You need to be vested in the theme in order to decorate for it.
Search those triggered visions, moods and feelings and write a list of the items that come to mind. Free association can be a tremendous help when planning decor. For instance, some of the things a “Tropical” theme brings to mind for me include:
- palm trees
- bright colors (i.e. hot pink, yellow, lime green, orange, royal blue, etc…)
- salt air, floral smells
- a dock
- an island with a waterfall
- carefree, relaxed
- coconuts, bananas, mangos, pineapples, papaya
- grass huts with thatched roofs
- hula skirts/dancers
- Tropical flowers
Creating vignettes (small themed areas) is a lot of fun and great way to build your theme ambience for your guests. Use dead areas of your venue as an opportunity to be creative with a themed vignette. For example: a hallway, atrium, corner of the room, foyer, etc… Build vignettes around a “must-have” item in your event like: an escort card table, food area, bar area, auction tables, photo area, stage, etc…
There are tons of resources online and locally that you can use in creating your vision. Don’t get stuck in just the party store either. Home improvement stores, discount superstores, thrift shops and garage sales can supply the perfect item you need! Build things, order kits, murals and lighting. All these things combined can make your theme come to life.
Plan your theme as a Hollywood set designer would plan scenery. Props and scenes are built to take film watchers along on the ride. Involve, entertain and transport your guests into your theme!