Choosing a theme is one of the most important and challenging parts of event planning. The attendee demographics can give you some direction, but you must also consider the venue’s atmosphere. A theme only works if the gathering takes place in a complementary environment.
Here are 10 event theme ideas to consider based on your venue.
Traditional event spaces often include the following:
- Convention centers
- Restaurants and bars
- Hotel ballrooms
- Reception halls
These venues are made to host events, so they are often the most flexible in terms of planning a specific theme. You can’t go wrong with these popular ideas.
1. Decade Theme
American culture undergoes major changes with each decade, especially during the latter half of the 20th century. Each decade had a distinct fashion style that attendees could easily turn into funny costumes:
- 1950s: classic blue jeans, white T-shirts, leather jackets, poodle skirts, floral dresses
- 1960s: printed fabrics, tie-dye, bell-bottom pants, sandals, headbands, beads
- 1970s: frayed jeans, ponchos, maxi dresses, scarves, long wavy hair
- 1980s: neon colors, spandex, high-waisted pants, leg warmers, big hair
- 1990s: plaid, flannel, baggy pants, bomber jackets, slip dresses
A decade theme provides humor, nostalgia and room for individuality. The food options are flexible, and you can put together a music playlist with each decade’s biggest hits. You could focus on a specific decade or open the event to all 50 years. Either way, your attendees will have a blast revisiting the old fashion trends of their childhood.
If you’re pressed for time, pick a theme that corresponds with the nearest holiday. You can find one throughout the calendar year without any questions or complaints, from New Year’s Day to Christmas and everything in between.
Holiday themes are super convenient for several reasons. First, there’s a good chance the venue has already put up appropriate decorations. Second, each holiday has its own small traditions that will keep attendees entertained. Third, the holidays have their own unique dress codes. Guests can participate simply by dressing up in festive outfits.
The number of remote workers in the United States has tripled in the last few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your company has a sizable remote workforce, it likely has some employees from different countries. They might not be able to attend your event, but you can pay homage to them with an international theme.
You can divide the venue into different parts of the world and provide popular food and music from other cultures. It’s important to showcase every country your employees come from if you have a multinational workforce.
4. Casino Night
A casino night theme would make great use of a restaurant party room or hotel ballroom. These venues often have large round tables and plenty of walking space, so they’re perfect for a makeshift casino hall. The expansive floor space also allows you to bring in neon light fixtures, water fountains, gilded statues and other design elements often found at casinos.
5. Group Costume Contest
A group costume contest is a creative way to excite guests about participating in your event. Have them dress up as famous duos, trios, quartets and other groups from pop culture. Making the costume contest a group effort instead of an individual event also encourages people to step out of their comfort zones for the sake of their teams.
Traditional corporate venues might be easy for event planners to find, but sometimes you need to shake things up. If you’re looking for something more unique, these alternative locations should be on your radar:
- Movie theater
- Sports stadium
- Amusement park
- State or national park
Hosting at one of these alternative venues might restrict your theme options. Outdoor events are especially difficult to plan for because of unpredictable weather conditions, environmental regulations and other logistical challenges.
However, hosting the event in a natural setting will help attendees be more socialand boost their enthusiasm. The outdoors also opens up all kinds of fun theme possibilities, including these popular options. They also work well in specific indoor settings.
6. Seasonal Theme
One of the four seasons would make a great theme for an outdoor venue because attendees can fully immerse themselves in the environment. Hosting a summer barbecue at a local park on a warm August day feels more like a relaxing get-together than a work obligation. Each season has its own traditions and activities that will make the event flow seamlessly.
A seasonal theme can also match the interior design of an indoor venue. For example, the warm colors and farmhouse appeal of rustic design are perfect for an autumn-themed event. Winter gatherings pair well with the cold, neutral color schemes and patterns of industrial design.
A Hollywood theme is perfect for movie theaters. Who wouldn’t want to be treated like a movie star? Have your guests dress in their most sophisticated attire and walk their own red carpet. Serve them champagne, cocktails and fancy finger foods often found at high-status parties in Los Angeles. Play classical music or soundtracks from popular movies to add to the ambiance.
Few venues are better for company events than a private press box at a sports stadium. All the food and beverages are already in-house, and you don’t need to worry about hiring entertainment. A gameday theme is also easy to participate in. Attendees will be excited to support a local team and dress in their favorite athletic gear.
You won’t be able to spend the night at an outdoor venue, but you can still host a corporate campout for the day. You can integrate many fun camping attractions and activities, including a portable bar, picnic area, s’mores-making station and scavenger hunt. Everyone has an inner outdoorsman waiting for the chance to reveal itself.
10. Outer Space
An outer space theme is surprisingly flexible. It would work in a science museum, auditorium or a simple outdoor setting with clear skies. This topic is also too interesting for people to ignore. Attendees can dress up as exotic aliens, which creates a lot of room for costume customization. You also have a chance to experiment with unique decorations, such as fog machines, spaceships and out-of-this-world color schemes.
Choose Your Theme and Venue Wisely
An event’s location influences many details of a company event’s theme, including the food, beverages, entertainment, activities and dress code. As such, you need to choose your venue wisely. These 10 ideas work with common and uncommon places alike. Take your pick and make your next event a success.
Related: 5 Questions to Ask on a Venue Walkthrough
Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine Revivalist, and she enjoys keeping up with the exciting world of event planning and hospitality. Follow Cora on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more life, style, and home inspiration.