Do I Have to Pick a Party Theme? The Pros and Cons of Choosing a Theme

Open any party planning book and you'll read that each and every party planner advocates choosing a theme. But, is it really necessary to do so?

While there are people that maintain a theme is not necessary to hosting a successful party, it may actually be more difficult not to have a theme. Of course, everyone is familiar with an on-the-spur-of-the-moment party that comes together very well but more often than not, it doesn't.

You could throw together a deli platter and a few drinks, blow up a few balloons, and call it a party once your friends arrive. It's a celebration, yes, but not necessarily a party in the real sense of the word.

A party is, more than anything, an experience that is not part of the real world. You have to be able to suspend reality and enter into an imaginary world when you are throwing a party. In order to do that, you have to create that world and it would be almost impossible without a theme to guide you.

A theme then is nothing more than the template to a good party. When you choose a theme, everything is narrowed that much down for you and makes your choices all the more easier. For example, if you have chosen a Western Barbecue as a party theme, you wouldn't even think of trying to throw in antipasti in the menu and jungle vines for decorations, right? Having a theme settles what you should have.

The theme also tells you how formal your party should be. Said Western Barbecue will not really have a need for fine crystal wineglasses or gilt-rimmed plates. After all, you can hardly be extremely formal when gnawing on some saucy back ribs straight off the grill.

A theme also reflects what it is the guests would like to indulge in. So, if you know that your guests can't stand horror movies, you would not pick “Saw” as the theme for your Halloween bash. Instead, you might try for a kinder, cuter Mary Emmerling version of the holiday. This helps keep people comfortable and also helps them get themselves in the proper frame of mind.

If your theme is a popular characther or common theme, then it should be really easy to find decorations and party supplies for that theme. If you pick a unique theme, however, then it may be more difficult to find the supplies you want.

Another advantage of a theme is that it makes decorating and party planning easier. Instead of trying to match colors and struggling to pick out items, you can just go with the theme. The theme makes the party seem more organized as well.

In essence, the theme itself is dictated by two things: you and your budget. While it's not a subject everyone wants to dwell on, the budget is actually a very important part of the celebration. It's not an excuse to get into debt, however, which is also why you need a theme to rein things in.

Remember when you are planning a successful party, you are aiming for two things. You want your guests to be surprised, which you can do with what they experience during the celebration, and you want them to experience a transformation, which they will when you change the way the party venue looks. Neither of these are possible without an underlying theme, which can be as simple as a color.

So, how do you know that your party is successful? When a friend posts her status as “Great party yesterday; still trying to get back to earth.” Pat yourself on the back, you threw a terrific party!