How to Choose a Theme to Make Your Gathering Memorable

Hosting and celebrating are what we do best. It’s something we value as it brings the ones we love together. No matter the occasion, big or small, we always take the time to gather. As we set out to plan our gatherings, one of the first steps to achieving our overall vision for the celebration, is through defining the theme.  
Our family is very close, and we find that we gather a lot...which means typically, the guest list stays the same. In fact, it was during that trying time in 2020 when we were all-hands-on deck one day setting up a makeshift reception for Marcie’s at-home quarantine-friendly wedding, that we were truly able to pinpoint why it’s so helpful to choose a theme for your gathering. 
Courtney was standing on her tiptoes on a stepstool taping up twinkly lights to define a clear dance floor when she finally exclaimed “WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?! It’s the same small group of people we’ve been with for a month!” which prompted us to realize a few valid points: 

  1. Taking the time and the little bit of extra effort to gather creates unmatched memories. 

  2. Tying a gathering together with a theme makes it easier on the host and fresh and fun for the guests... especially when you are all together frequently! They won't feel like they’re attending the same party over and over again.

  3. A theme may create a new experience for guests or challenge them to step a little outside of their comfort zone.

Deciding on a theme for a gathering allows the rest of the planning to unfold effortlessly. It’s an opportunity to get creative and think outside the box. We’re diving into the three steps to determine the theme for your next gathering to create a memorable evening for your guests.

 How to Choose a Theme: 

  1. Decide on the overall vision for your gathering. 

  2. Consider the time of year  

  3. Incorporate the menu

Planning Your Vision

When we say plan your vision, what we mean is to dig deeper into what you want your gathering to look like but also how you want your guests to feel. The vision sets the mood and tone of the event, and by beginning here, you’ll be on your way to defining the overall theme.  
Don't be intimidated by the word “theme” here. It doesn’t necessarily mean an extravagant Roaring 20s theme with glitter and gold. Your theme could be anything from wanting to gather friends to make homemade pasta and leaning into the Italian-theme when choosing a wine to pair, or even, it’s the first chilly night of autumn and you are craving a hearty soup so you invite friends over for an autumn-inspired gathering. Have fun and get creative, the best ideas are often the “out of the box” ones.  


Time of Year 

Once you decide on the overall vision, we encourage you to incorporate the season when defining your overall theme. The season often plays a huge role in defining the theme of your gathering. School is out - let’s host a beach-themed pool party, Lunar New Year – why not gather for a Chinese Zodiac-inspired evening? The opportunities are truly endless when tying in the time of year.


Incorporate the Menu

In our opinion, food is one of the best sources of inspiration. Planning the menu is a great opportunity to discover the theme of your gathering. There are endless ways to get creative with foods and often your theme is a direct result from the type of food you are serving. 

Here are a few ideas for how to use food as inspiration for a theme:  

  • Choose an in-season ingredient and lean in.  

  • Buy an old cookbook from the 60s, 20s or even older if you dare and cook only recipes from it! 

  • Explore a new cultural cuisine. 

  • Choose a specific region of the world and match a traditional menu from a special occasion or holiday.

Once the menu is planned, try to get creative with your drinks, desserts or appetizers pairings. 


The Dos and Don’ts of Hosting a Themed Party 

Another important factor when choosing your theme is to remember a few of these dos and don’ts to ensure that your guests are fully prepared for your gathering, and so they know what to expect.

Do – Send out invites early. Your guests will appreciate the heads up on your theme so they have time to prepare.  
Don’t - Expect too much. Try to give your guests ideas on how to participate in your gathering but don’t be surprised if a few people decide to opt out of participating. You want them to feel comfortable and included so make sure your theme isn’t too obscure or niche.  
Do – Include friends and family to help you pick a theme! A little help with inspiration never hurts!  
Don’t - Force guests to participate. Make sure your gathering isn’t solely requiring guests to participate. Have fun with your chosen theme but make sure guests know that they don’t have to participate if they aren’t up for it.


Ready to Choose Your Theme?

So, now that you’ve schemed the overall vision and incorporated the time of year and menu of your gathering, you are well on your way to choosing a theme for your next gathering. Remember, this is your opportunity to get creative and do something unexpected. It’s your party after all, have fun with it!

Sara Kate 

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