“While not every party is a theme party, ever party has a theme” – Leigh Clements, Shot In The Dark Mysteries

Some people hear the words “theme” and “party” and immediately envision togas or ugly sweaters. And while these certainly are types of party themes, the truth is that every party, regardless of how big, small, casual, or formal, has a theme.

How to Choose a Party Theme - Shot In The Dark Mysteries

Understanding the Theme of a Party

A theme is just a way to convey to everyone involved what they can expect at your party, as well as how to dress and act. Identifying your party’s theme from the start will make the rest of the party planning process easier. It guides every decision you make about your party, helping you set your budget, determine the food and cocktails to serve, and choose the right guests. But, if this is one of the most important parts of planning a party, what are some themes, and how do we, as hosts, choose the theme of our party?

Occasion-Based Themes

Occasion-Based themes are the no-brainers. The theme is implied by the time of year they are thrown, the guest of honour, life events etc. These require the least amount of brainstorming, but you can still brainstorm twists on the theme to really wow your guests and make your party unforgettable!

Celebratory Occasions: Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. These occasions naturally lend themselves to specific themes. For example, a 25th birthday could turn into a 90s throwback party.

Holidays: Christmas, Halloween, Easter… these are holiday themes, and they could be traditional, or we as hosts, can put a unique spin on them. At SHOT, we sometimes calls this “Twisting the Mystery”. One of my favourite Christmas mystery parties I threw for a group of lawyers here in town was ‘A Hawaiian Homicide’ theme, and we told everyone attending it was a Mala-kaleke MURDER party (a spin on the old Christmas carol). Clients have turned A Masquerade Murder steampunk, A Vampire Murder into a Valentines Day Theme (they sent pictures after and it was amazing) and our 1920s Prohibition-themed mysteries into a haunted speakeasy for Halloween.

Life Events: Baby showers, bachelorette parties, retirement celebrations. These can be themed around the honoree’s interests or life milestones, and as with everything, can be twisted to stand out in people’s memories forever.

Do you want to pull together a group of people who all share an interest (ie: a Superbowl Party, a board game night, a murder mystery party…) or set a theme and let your guests experience it because it’s an experience you, as the host, want to have? Let me explain this more, because it’s a really great party hosting concept.

Brainstorming a Unique Theme

The number one thing to remember is that, as hosts, we are creating an experience, and a memory from that experience. So, knowing that, brainstorming a unique theme that isn’t based on an occasion or an obvious reason to throw a party will rely on the type of EXPERIENCE you want to create. At SHOT, we are all about helping our hosts create experiences and memories that no one will ever forget – it’s why we create the packages we do – to give you, as the host, a tool with which you and your people can have an experience and create memories.

Let that be your driving force as you brainstorm your theme. What’s the experience you want to create? Fun? Classy? Classic? Mysterious? Brainstorm a few simple words to get your creativity flowing.

An example: I always wanted to do our Alice in Wonderland-themed murder mystery party (Murder in Wonderland) with a bit of a twist. So, I threw an event and created Wonderland as I wanted it to be, and even delivered my guests their costumes as I imagined these iconic characters being represented. We came together and solved the mystery while playing croquet, surrounded by plastic flamingos, drinking Prosecco and eating gold-dusted chocolate flamingos.

So, you can brainstorm this section based on what your guests enjoy, and what you would like to experience and see what comes up for you!

Guest Interests: Consider what your guests enjoy. Are they into retro music, board games, or gourmet food? This could lead to a vinyl listening party with trivia, a game night, or a gourmet potluck.

My Interests: What do I want to experience?

I have been known to plan an entire party around a candle holder I saw in a store. This is sometimes how our creativity is expressed as party hosts – we see one thing and instantly have a vision for an experience we want to create. Even if you have never realized it, if you are a party host (or want to be a party host), you’re also trying to create an experience for your guests and, ultimately, yourself. So, in brainstorming your party theme, why not include some things you have always wanted to try yourself?

On our website, we have a comprehensive list of over 100 potential party themes to help get those party creativity juices flowing!

While not all parties are “theme parties,” all parties have a theme. Whether it’s a simple color scheme or an elaborate murder mystery, the theme you choose sets the tone for the entire event. Remember, the best theme is one that resonates with you and your guests, creating unforgettable memories.

We have so many Pinterest boards to inspire your party planning – join us!

Or, hang here and browse some more of our Party Planning How-Tos to make your party one no one will ever forget!

Murder mystery party tip!

Get the package that fits your CONFIRMED guests, not the “maybes” and “on-the-fencers”. We live this hosting life, and know that not everyone can firm up an RSVP (and let’s face it, some are just flaky… yup, we are just dropping truth today…). The packages are designed to have everyone, even if they aren’t a suspect themselves, be fully involved with the mystery, so don’t worry about anyone feeling like they aren’t involved. Trust us – most times the Sleuths have more fun than the Suspects.

Try this Hosting Hack when planning your next party, and let us know how it goes!

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How to Choose a Party Theme - Shot In The Dark Mysteries