Theme parties can make for a lively break from the regular party routine of dressing upscale-casual, attempting to pace the wine drinking, and making pleasant conversation over the faint sounds of the Top 40. A great theme is generally an instant conversation starter, and makes for a nice change of pace that lets you leave the real world — where, say, dressing like a pirate is discouraged — on the shelf for a few hours.
But theme parties were not all created equal; there are definitely a few things you should keep in mind to make sure your invites are greeted with excitement instead of yawns.
First: the more specific the party idea, the better. It's hard to get too pumped about a Hawaiian theme, where everyone is bound to wear floral shirts, or a hippie party, where people will throw on sunglasses and tie dye and call it a day. Instead of a superhero party, how about hosting a rejected superhero party, where friends dress up as the most obscure or quirky superheroes they can make up? Boom. That one qualifier instantly makes your theme party exponentially more interesting.
Second, even if your theme is specific, there are some tired subjects you'll still want to steer clear of. You’ll definitely want to leave the college stuff in college. After a certain age, no one wants to attend a party where they're forced to endure on onslaught of foam or feel required to dress provocatively. Also, try to host a party that isn't already on everyone's schedule — e.g., come Christmas, leave the ugly sweater bash to someone else.
In the interest of maximizing fun and minimizing feelings of awkwardness and boredom for your next themed fiesta, we've rounded up ten theme party ideas to avoid at all costs. Warning: lame, overdone, and cliché ideas below.
At this point, toga parties are so overdone that they inevitably result in self-parody. Someone will start chanting "toga," everyone else will join in, and then the cheering will taper off as everyone realizes that the chant isn't a command, but simply describes what everyone is wearing. Some guy will quote Animal House all night. Everyone will start to wonder when it will be kosher to change back into regular clothes.
Ugly Sweater Party
Ugly Christmas sweater parties peaked around 2009. Sure, it's a quick, easy theme that doesn't require a whole lot of effort (or money) on anyone's part, but the idea is past its prime. These days, folks probably have one of these on their schedule already, so go with something more original. We suggest a Whoville-themed party where everyone has awesome angular haircuts and the night ends with multiple helpings of roast beast. Just a thought.
This post was orginally published on June 2, 2014.