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A series of articles about all facets of event planning with helpful hints, planning ideas, sample schedules and budgeting tips from the B&E Team.

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Decorations, Themes & Props

Decorations, Themes & Props

Why use a theme? It provides interest and coherence for the attendees. Planning is more efficient with a theme, creating an automatically organized process. In addition, the key to a successful event is audience participation. The more involved people become in the event they are attending, the more likely they are to enjoy themselves and remember the experience. Attendees may not remember the name of the keynote speaker, but they will remember the "Wacky Olympics" special event.

When is a theme appropriate? Anytime. When done properly, themes can be used to enhance a business meeting, client appreciation, awards event, and even reunions. 

How is a theme chosen? Define the goals of your event first; what you want to accomplish with the event, who is attending, and what you want them to take away with them. Then, you can decide what theme options may work.

Creative brainstorming: Producing a new idea that ties in with the event can be a great challenge. An effective way of coming up with new and innovative ideas is to work with a group of people to draw synergy out of fun, and to build cooperative teamwork to produce ideas and solutions. Find a meeting space free of distraction--phones, foot traffic, etc. A storyboard can be helpful in this meeting so that all ideas can be captured with an open mind. Some of the smallest ideas can turn into the best campaigns.

Make sure it is the right theme or concept: The best ideas can end up a failure unless the details of the theme and campaign are thought out. Ask specific questions like: Does it fit within the organization's image? Will it offend any of our customers or employees, or conflict with our products? Is it one people will remember? Is the message clear, or lost within the creative? Is it an idea to be proud of and put in the portfolio?

Are theme events expensive? They don't have to be. Some of your theme ideas can be accomplished with a small budget if you and your committee are willing to spend the time. However, a much better use of your time and money may be to use a meeting planner, professional decorator, or entertainment company.

Decorating tips for theme events: Consider three to four main areas of the facility for theme props. Main focus areas can include the entryway to the event, stage, dance floor, guest tables, or food and beverage stations, to name a few.

Checkout props and displays: A visit to the prop shop or decorator will allow you the opportunity to see the quality, size, and color of the design ideas and available props. While at the studio, ask to see their portfolio to view actual designs used at various events and browse to see what other props or displays they have. This trip may awaken an idea several months later for a future project.

Theme ideas for your next event:

  • Disco Party – Boogie down under the disco ball; roller skates and rainbow knee high socks; can you dig it?!
  • Casino Night – Rent tables, embrace the Caesar’s Palace vibe and have your servers and staff dress in togas and double down that this party will ensure the House wins on fun. 
  • Literature – Turn to the pages of literature for inspiration. Create one of Jay Gatsby’s glamorous jazz and gin nights or fall down the rabbit hole with Lewis Carroll for an Alice in Wonderland party.
  • White party – No colors allowed 
  • Cirque du Soleil – Image getting your glass filled by acrobats swinging upside down from the ceiling, passed hors d'oeuvres from stilt walkers.
  • Decades – 1920’s Elegant Speakeasy, 1950’s Sock Hop, 1950’s Mad Men, Totally Rockin’ 80’s
  • Game Night – Host an old fashioned game night with Twister, Monopoly and giant Jenga pieces. 
  • Sports – World Cup, Super Bowl
  • Around the World – Travel the globe in decor and food options
  • Tropical – Break out the Mai Tai’s and leis
  • Carnival/Circus – Fun under the big top with carnival games and a popcorn bar