Expert Event Series: Event Themes

Posted on Jul 1, 2009

Jul 1, 2009

Fear not, my Expert Event Series is back on track. It has been a hectic past few weeks and I hadn’t been able to steal enough time to nail down the details of my newest topic. So here it is, horribly overdue. July slows down for me a bit, so I promise to deliver my expert advice in a more timely fashion. As always, feel free to contact me directly at Thanks!


Theme. This is the unifying subject, vision, ideas behind your event. Not a necessity, but I find a good theme will often help to focus key players during the planning process. With your newly named unifying topic, decisions about the pieces of your event comes more easily and more decisive (Yes, it would be amazing to have your favorite death metal band play for free at your event, but does it fit your black tie benefit theme?). Ultimately, theme sets the tone for your event, playing into the menu, decor, entertainment and budget of your event.

But what makes a good theme? As a committed minimalist, I have always believed less is more. Coco Chanel’s old adage, reminding one to take off a piece of jewelry before you leave the house translates well for the event planner. A good theme should be apparent to your guests, but not in neon lights as they enter the venue. Instead, it should weave its way through the carefully chosen elements of the soiree. Using the menu to communicate your Age of Elegance Theme, one might choose classic foods and recipes from that time period. Fashion of the day sneaks into the decor with touches of pearls and lace. The Bar mixes cocktails of old, using ingredients that invoke nostalgia and interest. Even the china has been carefully chosen to reflect a timely design. I often tell clients that adding a theme does not make an event more expensive, rather it gives the guest a more complete experience. These carefully thought out and chosen pieces will make you event more memorable, increase guest attendance and keeping people talking.


Garden Splendor: Transform your party into a Secret Garden with butterflies, blooming flowers, tastes of freshness and scents of spring. Guests can sip on Basil Lemonade and take home a potted plant to start their own garden.

Color: The theme is yellow and everything is to match, down to the décor, invitations, food and drink. With such a happy, fun color you are sure to have a happy and fun event.

Hope: How do you convey such a powerful feeling? Inspirational speakers, a children’s choir and a “hopeful” message in a bottle as a guest favor can all be way to communicate hope. Oftentimes, themes will overlap and can be used to compliment each other. Using the color white, communicates hope and purity.

Sandy Beach: A common theme, so how can you make it your own? I recently created a beach-themed reception with a smore’s “sand” pit. Brown sugar substituted for sand, with gummy worms crawling through. It was the focal point of the room, unique to all of the guests. We served BBQ Pineapple Burgers, Chilled Watermelon Shooters and had a fish taco bar to boot. Steel drums played in the background and while all these items were certainly beach-themed, the presentation and combination were unique.

Element of the Event
(Great Band, Signature Drink, Ethnic Food, Company Product)
Guest of Honor (Showcase a person’s life at their Birthday, follow the journey of love for a Bride & Groom)
Holidays (Mardi Gras, Halloween, Oktoberfest)
Period in History (Victorian Age, WWI, 70’s, 80’s)
Classic Novels (The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye)
Pop Culture (Andy Warhol, Art Deco, MTV)
Great American Cities (NY, San Francisco, Chicago)
Historical Figures – Real or Fictional(Henry VIII, Marilyn Monroe, Carrie Bradshaw, Harry Potter)
Feelings and Actions (Love, Happiness, Laughing, Growth, Sharing)
Travel Destinations (Tropics, Down Under, African Safari)
Seasons (Winter Wonderland, Fall in Tuscany)

Event planning requires a creative mind and passion. I find inspiration in all aspects of my life and flashes of possibility and beauty in the unlikeliest of places. Holding you back is your imagination alone and I encourage collecting the moments, experiences, colors, people, sounds and places of your life. Carefully tucked away, these elements just may transform your next event.

Up Next… Feeding the Masses: Choosing a Menu that Appeals to All.

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