Choosing a Party Theme

Choosing a party theme is always my first step in any party planning, and honestly, one of the most fun components. Coming up with the perfect party theme can feel overwhelming but whether you’re celebrating a first birthday, baby shower, or girls night, there are so many options out there. Let’s break down how to brainstorm ideas and come up with a party theme that fits your gathering best.

Kenny and the Jets birthday party cakes for 70s themed party. Personalized DIY cake toppers with disco balls and colorful paper.

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SHOULD MY PARTY HAVE A THEME

Should it? I say yes. But does it have to? Absolutely not!

Themes are fun and helpful for so many reasons. First off, a party theme is cute and exciting for both the hostess and attendees. A good party theme will also really help you plan other aspects of a party. A good theme can guide the direction you go for food, drinks, favors, decor, and the overall FEEL of a party.

Chalkboard with Oh Twodles written on it and Minnie Mouse drawn next to large #2 pink balloon.

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THEMED PARTIES

  1. Themed parties = dress up parties. FALSE. This is sometimes true, if it fits the bill and your goals for the party. Of all the themed parties I’ve ever hosted, only one of them ever encouraged the guests to dress the part. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to dress up if you want to have a themed party. That is completely optional and oftentimes not even relevant.
  2. Themed parties = “extra” aka over the top. FALSE unless you want it to be. When it comes to planning a party, I think the hostess gets to make the call on how big they want to go with things, including how into a theme do you want to get. There are plenty of people who take a theme over the top and go all out for a party. Then there are others, like myself, who love a theme to be a festive and creative outlet for a party while keeping things grounded. Can you be “extra” with a party theme? Totally. But you can also choose the route of having a theme because it’s fun and still have a pretty intimate and realistic gathering.
  3. Themed parties = complicated or too much work. FALSE. As already shared, themes can ground and guide your party planning endeavors in really helpful ways actually. You can go overboard, sure. But keeping everything on course allows your theme to truly help your decision making on everything from colors, food, decor, and more. I find a theme actually makes party planning easier.
Mini donut and donut hole skewers with DIY pink and white hearts glued to the top.
Metallic fringe photo backdrop with rose gold #3 mini balloon for a 70s themed birthday party.
Custom cookies for 70s themed party with daisies, sunglasses, disco balls, and number three in pink, white, yellow, orange, and sprinkles.

HOW TO COME UP WITH A PARTY THEME

When choosing a party theme, think about two main things right off the bat.

Who is the party for and what kind of party is it?

Is this a baby shower or a birthday party? Is it for a young female adult or a five year old boy?

These two questions and considerations will be a huge factor in helping you narrow down your party theme ideas. From there, I like to think about what kinds of things that person likes or has associations with.

  • Favorite food/drink or even a favorite mealtime (brunch, dessert, etc)
  • Sport or team
  • Character, show, movie, or song
  • Having a baby boy or girl (or keeping it a surprise)
  • Turning a milestone age (16, 21, 30, 60, etc)
  • Favorite color(s) or flower(s)
  • Choose a classic theme (Roaring 20s, Garden/Tea party, princess or superheroes…)
  • Puns (puppy pawty, twotii fruity, you’re one in a melon, donut grow up, mama to bee…)

Main takeaway: make it personal!

DIY high chair banner in pink and blue fabrics made for first birthday party with name banner hanging overhead.
Wood pallet with photos and flags made from fabric to showcase baby's first year of photos months 1 through 12.

Wish cards printed and hanging up with baby girl's name and lines for baby shower guests to fill out about the future baby and mom-to-be.

GIVE ME SOME EXAMPLES

Guest of honor: birthday party, two year old boy, loves Cocomelon

Cocomelon party theme

  • Watermelon or school bus invitation
  • Rainbow balloon wall/garland and other rainbow theme party decorations
  • Watermelon cake pops or decorated cupcakes
  • Rainbow foods: fruit tray, rice krispies, goldfish
  • Party favor ideas: crayons, playdoh, mini bubbles, gummy bears

Guest of honor: gender neutral baby shower, thirty year old female, enjoys ice cream

Ice cream theme party

  • Set up an ice cream bar with all the fixings
  • Cute children’s book for attendees to sign as a guest book
  • Ice cream theme party favors like sugar cookies, mini scoop, bag of candies
  • Pink, mint, blue color scheme to match a vintage ice cream shoppe feel
Kitchen set up for ice cream social with mini bowls of ice cream toppings (sprinkles, cookie dough, candies, pretzels, cookies) along with fresh fruit and syrup.
Cookies that look like ice cream cones bagged individually for baby shower guests to take home as a party favor next to guest book to sign.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

  • Budget
  • Guest list
  • Venue
  • Season/surrounding holidays

WHEN IN DOUBT

Choose a classic theme. The good part about choosing a classic party theme is that there are probably a lot of decorations and ideas already out there. A luau, fiesta, or decade-themed party are always going to be a hit with the masses.

Some of My Favorite Parties

Time Flies Airplane Birthday Party

How to Host a Flower Arranging Party

Kenny and the Jets 70s Themed Party

First Rodeo Themed Party

How to Throw a Favorite Things Party

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