Event planners have a difficult job that requires large amount of attention. But when they’re not monitoring details, there’s another skill that planners must have that often goes unrealized; creativity.
Successful event planners know that a good event is only as good as the attendees think it is, and making an impact for all involved is important.
But how do you stand out among the rest and give attendees something to remember? The answer is simple… add a theme to your event!
Themed corporate events and parties are popular among corporate events planners because they make events more memorable, fun and enjoyable for attendees. A properly planned and executed themed event will leave attendees with something to remember, and generate buzz that a regular party most likely would not.
When planning a themed event, the host should consider every possible options, from upcoming holidays, to an era theme, to an entertainment theme. Many corporations also adopt team building exercises for their events to build their employees’ relationships (this is a huge win-win for a human resource departments).
Before we dive in though, let’s take a look at a few of the most popular events that are themed.
Types of corporate parties
There are three main types of corporate parties: sales meeting or conference, internal company, and incentive travel. Any of these parties can use any of the theme ideas listed below.
1. Sales meeting or conference
Sales meetings or conferences can range in size and themes. Conferences are generally very large while sales meetings are typically smaller and more intimate. Sonburst, a top event planning company, has the capabilities to plan and coordinate any size sales meeting or conference.
2. Internal company
Internal company parties are generally held for the sake of the employees. They may be held to award employees, build relationships, or simply give them a chance to mingle outside of the regular workday.
3. Incentive travel
Incentive travel events motivate employees and provide them with rewards for their hard work. Companies can set a goal for employees to reach in order go on a trip provided by the company. These events are generally all-inclusive and provide a variety of entertainment for guests.
While these themes apply mainly to larger corporations, smaller companies and startups aren’t excluded from corporate event planning the themes listed below.
After working hard all year long, employees look forward to time together in a different setting than the office. Holiday parties are a great way for them let loose and relax, while rewarding them for the work leading up to the season. Take your event to the next level by using one of these corporate holiday party themes.
A Christmas Story
A classic Christmas movie theme is sure to impress all event attendees and let them relish in memories. A Christmas Story themed holiday party will triple dare attendees to let loose and have some fun. The décor of the party can include a leg lamp, a crate with “FRAGILE” painted on it, Red Ryder BB Guns, and 1940’s nostalgia. Guests can be provided with tinsel to cover the Christmas tree just as the Parker family decorated their tree. Sticking with the theme of the movie, the food provided can be Chinese food such as sweet and sour chicken, duck, rice, and noodles. Add in some traditional 1940’s Christmas foods such as cranberries and coke served from glass bottles. An impatient Santa can greet guests and hastily ask what they want for Christmas. For entertainment, a shoot-the-balloon carnival game can be rented for guests to shoot balloons with faux BB guns. They can win prizes such as a bar of soap, a decoder pen, and other small trinkets that represent the nostalgic movie.
A Santa’s workshop themed party is a great idea for both adult-only and family-oriented corporate events. The venue can be transformed into the North Pole by including decorations of elves, candy canes, and fake snow. Santa would obviously be present, either wandering throughout the venue or sitting in his chair for guests to visit with him and have pictures taken. A great add-on to the event would be to include a professional photographer to take photos of guests with Santa and his elves. Real reindeer can also be rented from companies in many locations. If children are welcome to the event, small toy-building workshops can be set up for each child to build and paint wooden toys to take home.
As an extra special part of the event, the host can ask guests to bring a toy to be donated to a local toy drive, or the company can adopt a needy family for guests to buy gifts. If the host adopts a family, he or she should send the guests a list of genders and ages to buy for. Including a charity in the event gives the event a special feel for giving and Christmas.
A White Christmas party can be a sophisticated, special holiday event. The venue can be covered in fake snow and white glittering snowflakes. An extra-large white Christmas tree can be decorated in light blue and silver, with twinkling white lights. Silver and white gifts can adorn tables and sit underneath the tree. Continue the white, sophisticated feel of the party with an all-white menu.
Foods to be served can be chicken breast, roast turkey, white fish, cauliflower, and mashed potatoes. Deserts can be dipped or decorated with white chocolate, vanilla frosting, and vanilla ice cream. Remember that guests will likely be wearing white as well, so the menu should steer clear of menu items that may drip and stain. Guests can sip on champagne, white wine, white Russians, eggnog, or white hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. Entertainment can be carolers, a band, or a DJ.
A reindeer games themed holiday party is a great event for corporate parties that include children. The party can be themed and decorated around Rudolph and his friends. The venue can be covered in colorful Christmas lights, garland, and fun reindeer props. The main idea of the party would be arcade-like Christmas-themed games for the children to play, such as “pin the carrot on the snowman” or “Christmas corn hole” with fake snowballs. They can earn tickets for winning games to redeem at the end of the event. There can also be contests such as a “Snowman” eating contest with snow cones, or a coloring contest with a Christmas-themed picture. Arts and crafts stations can be set up for children to decorate Christmas ornaments to take home. The menu should be kid-approved with lots of finger foods and sweets for desserts.
Christmas cookie party
A Christmas cookie party can be a fun, informal event for guests to enjoy each other’s company. The host can either ask guests to each bring a batch of cookies to share or the host can supply cookies for guests to decorate at the party. Decorating cookies can be just for fun or the host can turn it into a contest with prizes for “Best Decorated,” “Most Christmas-y,” “Most Interesting,” etc. If the host would like to include food, the menu can be anything from pizza that is ordered to a catered full-course meal. This will depend on how informal the host would like the event to be.
For a fancier affair, guests can adorn tuxedos and gowns while attending a sophisticated winter or masquerade ball. Either type of ball would generally be an evening of dancing and music, so the host can hire either a band or a DJ.
A winter ball theme would be held in a venue decorated in blue, silver, and snowflakes. The menu can be a full-course meal that is either presented on a buffet or catered to tables.
A masquerade ball theme would incorporate the extravagance of the Phantom of the Opera, with the venue decorated in purple and gold. Guests can be asked to wear masks, but the host should have extras on hand for those who do not bring their own. The menu for a masquerade ball can be simple with appetizers and finger foods that are served by staff walking throughout the venue instead of traditional buffet or table food.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
For a crowd who loves alternative holiday affairs, a Nightmare Before Christmas themed party is sure to impress guests. This Tim Burton-themed party is a completely different event than traditional holiday parties, which may be a breath of fresh air for guests who attend many holiday parties each year. The venue can be decorated with a gothic theme: dark purple, black, and ivory in color. Any furniture that can be found oversized should be included. The menu can include old English cuisine such as a roast, vegetables, and soup.
Ugly Christmas sweater party
The ugly Christmas sweater party is a fun, informal party for guests to adorn their ugliest Christmas sweaters. Guests can win prizes for ugliest, most colorful, and most creative sweaters. The menu can be casual such as pizza or subs. Adult beverages such as beer and mixed drinks can be served. The entire evening is much more casual than other types of parties and can include music played by a DJ or local band. Decorations can include traditional Christmas décor such as garlands, Christmas trees, and stringed lights.
To add more to the entertainment, the guests can play a gift-exchange game. Each guest can be asked to bring a wrapped white elephant or gag gift. Then the guests draw numbers. The first guest opens a gift. The second guest can either “steal the gift” or open another gift. The game continues until all guests have received a gift; either by stealing or opening a new one.
Christmas around the world
A Christmas around the world party incorporates many cultures and traditions, making for a memorable event for all. The possibilities are endless. The host should choose at least three cultures to incorporate into the event and use those cultures’ holidays for menu items, drinks, décor, and entertainment. Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza can be included. The menu can be set up in stations for each culture with drinks that are famous for their countries of origin.
The décor would coordinate with the selected cultures and can be connected to their food stations or presented as a mixture throughout the venue. Signs can be hung that read “Merry Christmas” in different languages, “Happy Hanukah,” and “Happy Kwanza.” The entertainment can include something from each culture, such as different music selections, dancers, or other presentations.
Another creative take on corporate event planning themes is to incorporate team building activities into an event. Team building allows coworkers to get to know each other on a deeper level than casual office conversation.
Here’s a few of our favorite team building activities for companies.
Ice breaker activity
An ice breaker activity helps the group become more comfortable with each other so that they can become closer as a team. It is a great way to kick start a team-building event and break down any barriers that may exist. An ice breaker activity should include every person and ensure that all members of the group must either talk or be active. The activity is likely to be awkward at first, but the idea is to help employees let loose and get to know each other better.
Two Truths and One Lie
Two Truths and One Lie is a game that ensures every member is involved. One by one, each member of the group will stand and tell two truths and one lie about him or herself. The rest of the group will then vote by a show of hands of which statement was a lie. Once voting is complete, the member discloses which statement was a lie.
For a scavenger hunt, a large group can be split into smaller teams. The teams will then need to work together to find items listed or follow a map to a winning location. The group who wins can receive a small prize.
Just about everyone knows how to play rock-paper-scissors, but it is even more fun when it is played with the whole body instead of just hands. For larger groups, this can be turned into a tournament that begins with teams who play against each other in a best-of-five series.
10 Things in Common
To play 10 Things in Common, the group will be split into smaller groups of three to four people. Each group must then try to find 10 things that all members have in common with each other. The first group to find 10 things can win a prize.
Take a Step
A great way to get to know each other is to play Take a Step. The group begins in a straight line. A speaker says, “take a step if you…” and participants take steps if they match the description. Ideas are “if you have been to Paris,” “if you like to read,” “if you have kids,” etc. As the game goes on, the speaker can include other activities such as “take a step back,” “take two hops forward,” and “walk to the other side of the room.” The speaker can also start to make it more fun by including embarrassing descriptions such as “if you’ve ever tripped over your own feet,” “if you’ve ever blamed the dog for your stink,” etc.
Escape the room
Escape the room is a unique way for teams to work together and form stronger relationships. Escape rooms are becoming very popular and can be found in almost every state. A team of people works together to solve riddles and problems in order to find their way out of a locked room. They generally have 60 minutes to break free using the intricate clues they find. This is a fun way for team members to engage with each other, create memories, and learn each other’s strengths.
Office Olympics can be organized by the office members themselves or the company can use a specialty venue that coordinates team building Olympics for businesses. Team members have a great time being active, competing, and working together to win. Employees are split into smaller groups to be teams and the events can be held either indoor or outdoor.
For an outdoor venue, traditional sporting events can be held. A great team activity is a relay; one team member runs to the next, handing off a baton until all team members have sprinted. Another great activity is longest drive; teams try to hit golf balls the furthest. Other fun activities are Frisbee throwing, volleyball, wheelbarrow races, and three-legged races.
Indoor venues can be fun as well. One fun activity is a chair race; team members scoot along the floor on wheeled office chairs to the finish line. Another chair game is chair rowing; team members use their feet against a wall to spring themselves away and see who can spring themselves the furthest. Another indoor activity is the Post-It race; teams have thirty seconds to stick as many Post-Its on one team member as possible.
Don’t forget to hold closing ceremonies. Medals or trophies can be purchased to hand out to the winning teams. For a cheaper and fun alternative, office supplies such as staplers, calculators, and pens can be spray painted gold, silver, and bronze.
Split employees into teams of three or four to keep their eggs safe when dropped from a high location. The best way to begin this project is to keep it a secret until the day of the exercise. This ensures that the team members work together to come up with ideas instead of researching at home. Supply them with several materials; cardboard boxes, cardboard tubes, yogurt cups, berry containers, grocery bags, scrap paper, bubble wrap, scissors, tape, and yarn. Give them a few test eggs so they can test their products before competing. Then give the teams up to an hour to build their contraptions. Once teams are ready, let them drop their eggs one by one to see who built the safest container.
The egg drop activity engages all team members together and is a fun way for them to communicate with each other. They get to be competitive and creative while learning about each other’s strengths.
Break employees into teams to compete against each other in paintball. Nothing brings a group of people together better than shooting each other with small paint-filled pellets. The teams strategize together and employ their teamwork skills to be the last team standing while completing a variety of tasks. Teams try to stop other teams from completing their tasks by shooting them and successfully marking them with their paintballs.
Hosting a game night is a great way to let employees have some fun, build stronger relationships and teams, and have a little competition.
Most game nights do not include a menu, but a great idea is to serve finger foods and appetizers for guests to munch on. Many game nights include alcoholic beverages, so it would be in the host’s best interest to also supply some food as well. The foods can be simple such as chips and pretzels so that they can be provided in bowls on each table. Beverages that are offered are generally beer and common mixed drinks such as rum and coke, and vodka and cranberry juice.
There are three types of game nights that are popular: parties that supply board games for guests to choose, a trivia night, or a poker tournament. A trivia night or poker tournament is much more organized than the board game night and ensures that all guests participate in the games.
For a board game night, the evening can be casual and guests can split into teams and groups as they choose. Several tables will be set up with various board games that guests are encouraged to play. If the host would like the event to be more organized, they can assign guests to teams and have the teams rotate throughout the tables in a certain order, playing against other teams along the way.
A trivia night is more organized, but provides great fun. Split guests into teams of four to six and have teams sit at their own tables. Each team is provided with a piece of paper and pen. A speaker will ask the questions and the teams write their answers in order on the paper. At the end of the night, the answers are scored and the team with the most correct answers wins.
A classic poker tournament lets guests compete on an individual basis while engaging with their co-workers. For larger groups, guests start at several tables and the winners from the tables then play against each other until one winner is left.
Event planners looking for a unique event of course can’t miss era-themed events. Whether you want to throw is back to the 70s with a Disco party, or opt for a 20s-esque Great Gatbsy get-together, working an era into your event theme is sure to bring out the fun, and of course, creative costumes!
A roaring 20’s theme party can mimic intimate speakeasies and will remind guests of The Great Gatsby. Essential décor items will be candles, feathers, and strings of fake pearls. Twinkle lights add subtle, dimmed lighting for a more intimate, old-timed feel. Drinks can be served in champagne flutes and martini glasses. Guests can be encouraged to dress the part with classic tuxedos, fedora hats, and flapper dresses. For entertainment, some tables can be set up with classic games such as Dominos, Yahtzee, Poker, and Black Jack. A photo booth can be rented with 20’s themed props such as fans and tassels.
A groovy 60’s party is a fun, colorful party for all hippies. Lava lamps, colored lights, and flower garlands can adorn the venue. Include various pop art and British flags to signify the British invasion. For entertainment, play music by the Beatles, Sonny and Cher, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. Encourage guests to dress with 60’s styles and adorn miniskirts, go-go boots, and bell-bottoms.
Hold a disco-themed 70’s party with retro costumes and decorations. Turn the venue into a regular disco with a disco ball, strobe lights, and black lights. Encourage guests to dress the part with jumpsuits and platform shoes. Play a complete 70’s playlist and let guests dance all night long.
Throw a big-hair 80’s theme party. Hire an 80’s cover band or a DJ to play a playlist of 80’s music such as Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, and Madonna. Hold an air-guitar contest and moon-walking contest in between dancing. Guests can wear 80’s styles with big hair, headbands, and bright skirts and leggings.
The 90’s were filled with Walkman’s, Beanie Babies and popular TV shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Seinfeld. A 90’s themed party can be reminiscent of all things 90’s, including music by the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls. Host a karaoke night with a 90’s playlist for guests to roll down memory lane. Guests can wear scrunchies, jean jackets, and bandanas.
Ring in the new millennium again with a 2000’s party. Host a re-make of a Y2K party complete with flip phones and early 2000’s pop music. The evening can be organized as a New Year’s Eve party that is preparing for the meltdown of all things technical.
Host a cosmic, futuristic theme party with bright décor and possibly an alien or two. Provide guests with glow sticks and decorate the venue in neon and LED lights. Show that space travel has been improved with spaceships, aliens, planets, and stars. Encourage guests to get creative with their clothing by wearing bright colors and shiny attire.
The last category, and my favorite, goes to a classic… entertainment-themed parties. These parties are not only fun, but also a staple in every event planner’s arsenal. Costumes and decorations for this type of event are readily available, meaning you’ll see creative costumes and be able to pull off the event even on the tightest of budgets.
Host a sophisticated and fun 007 theme party. Encourage guests to come dressed in tuxedos and gowns. Serve drinks in martini glasses and decorate the venue to look like a casino or incorporate black and red. For entertainment, host tables of poker and black jack. Serve finger goods such as mini sausages and fruit.
Wizard of Oz
Create a yellow brick road throughout the venue for a classic Wizard of Oz theme party. Encourage guests to come dressed as their favorite characters and decorate the event with ruby slippers. Be sure to include bouquets of lollipops from the Lollipop Guild.
Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil can be an extravagant event. Decorate the venue with colored feathers, boas, and masks. Include tables full of candy, oversized if possible. To really impress guests, performers can be hired, such as acrobats, contortionists, and jugglers. The party should be as extravagant as possible to capture the essence of an over-the-top Cirque du Soleil show.
Host the Academy Awards complete with a red carpet and paparazzi. Hire a photographer to take photos of guests as they enter on the red carpet. Guests should wear gowns and tuxedos and be prepared for a night of elegance. Include musical and dancing entertainment in between awards. Create your own awards for guests and supply them with trophies.
Guests can channel their inner Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra when they attend an Old Hollywood theme party. The venue can be decorated with velvet and lots of red, black, and white props. Red roses should be placed throughout the venue. Guests will have a chance to walk down the red carpet. Hire celebrity impersonators such as Elvis and Marilyn Monroe to attend the event and mingle with guests.
The Walking Dead
A Walking Dead party is sure to be a memorable event. Invite guests to dress as a character or zombie from the popular show and hold a contest for the best dressed. For entertainment, provide Nerf guns for guests to battle against each other and play the soundtrack from The Walking Dead. The food served will be reminiscent of Halloween with fake, edible blood and candy eyeballs.
A Night in Casablanca
Decorate the venue in Moroccan glamour for a Night in Casablanca. Fill the rooms with candles placed in unique candleholders, decorative pillows, and hookahs. Invite guests to dress the part in 1940’s party attire. Serve finger foods on ornate plates and sangria in fancy wine glasses.
Serve up a night of cards with a casino-themed evening. Encourage guests to dress in their tuxedos and evening wear to provide a glamorous night. Fill the venue with black jack, roulette, poker, and craps tables. Hire dealers to host the tables for a professional look. Serve guests martinis and champagne from flutes.
When a themed event is properly planned and executed, it will leave guests with lasting memories that will be remembered for the future. Hiring an event planner such as Sonburst will ensure that the event is professional looking, impressive, and runs smoothly. Themed events will be memorable and fun when correctly planned.