How To Throw A Solid Themed Party

Become my friend and you will quickly learn two things about me. The first is that I watch a ridiculous amount of TV. The second is that I love a good themed party. If I had it my way every party would have a theme and Halloween would be a monthly event. I’m not a huge fan of fashion and find that I’m much more comfortable socializing when dressed like a moron. Over the past few years I have both attended and thrown quite a few memorable parties with themes such as Tom Hanks, Jersey Shore, 8th Grade Dance and Gender Bender. I consider myself to be quite an expert in my field and here are my top ten tips for throwing a solid themed party.

1. Plan ahead. Themed parties, while awesome, require a bit more effort than your average gathering. Therefore, it’s important to give yourself a bit more time to prepare. I usually need at least two weeks. It’s also good to give your friends some time to plan their outfits and mark their calendars.

2. Don’t be too strict. Some people aren’t as down with themes as you might think. It’s key to create an event that encourages people to dress up and have fun, but doesn’t make people feel like they have to in order to attend.

3. Decorate. People will relax and get into theme easier if your venue is decorated to match. The Dollar Store is your best friend when it comes to themed party decor. Trust me, it might seem extravagant, but some simple streamers can go a long way.

4. Funtivities. Plan some activities related to your theme to encourage your guests to interact. For our Jersey Shore party we set up a video camera “confessional” in the bathroom. It was a huge hit as well as a great form of blackmail. Disposable cameras and name-tags are also lots of fun.

5. Have extra accessories. Some people are tentative to arrive in costume, but change their mind once they see everyone else having fun. Have some cheap extras on hand to include these people in the fun.

6. Make a killer playlist. Your music sets the tone and can make or break your party. Don’t just put your iTunes on shuffle and hope for the best. Make a fun themed playlist. It’s been two years and people are still raving about my 8th Grade Dance playlist. When in doubt, boy bands.

7. Don’t stress about the guest list. The best parties I’ve been to are ones where I don’t know half the people there. Unless you have neighbors who are prone to filing noise complaints, just leave the invite open. It’s more stressful to exclude people and worry about them finding out than it is to invite them and just not hang with them.

8. Themed snacks and beverages. Your guests will appreciate the effort and it’s another opportunity to play around with your theme. At one of my Ugly Sweater Holiday parties we served “Glen Cocoa” and yelled, “You go Glen Cocoa!” every time we handed one out. The people loved it.

9. Write a great invitation. I’m personally a huge fan of Facebook events. They’re a quick and easy way to spread the word and get people excited about your party. It’s important to make your theme clear, but also leave it open to some interpretation. The more puns the better.

10. Go big or go home. It’s your party and therefore your responsibility to set the bar. If you get into theme, dress like an idiot, create an awesome playlist and welcome all your guests with open arms people are going to have fun. Your guests are taking their cues from you and you better bring it!

The feature image is made up of three of the many, many, ridiculous things I’ve worn over the past few years. If you understand the one on the left we could probably be friends.

  • Carissa Mirra

    Any chance you’re willing to share that 8th Grade Dance playlist? 😀

    • Nicole Paulhus

      It was sadly lost in the MacBook Crash of 2011. Basically I went on a crazy googling spree through lists of songs from 2001 and the years leading up to it. Every time I saw a song that I remembered at one point dancing/singing in 8th grade I downloaded it. I tried to include those sappy slow-dance ballads, a healthy helping of boy band, some rap that we definitely didn’t understand and some “punk” stuff that we thought we were so cool for loving. Basically every song just has to be one that someone goes “oh my god I used to love this song!” I also think Spotify could be extremely helpful with this now!

  • Joleine Kipp

    Yeah, I’d love to hear what kind of music is on that playlist!

  • Cori Lynne Hedrick

    “give me all the bacon and eggs you have.”

    • Nicole Paulhus


  • Randi Carlson

    The confessional was epic, but don’t forget the hair gel. <3 your epic theme parties!!!

    • Nicole Paulhus

      Every example I could think of had to do with that one party. None of the pictures were at all appropriate to post here, however.

  • Cassidy Lamb

    I love theme parties. My husband graduated in December with a degree in Chemistry so I got to throw a grad party with a grad cap cake and little chocolate grad caps. I also made tiny edible diplomas. Then for his birthday last week I threw a mad scientist party. I used Caution tape for streamers, made punch, Jell-O shots, ice and bubbles that glowed. I baked a ton of cupcakes and assembled a molecule and used dry ice to make a smoky punch. And a pinata shaped like a beaker. It was a blast.

    • Nicole Paulhus

      OMG those both sound amazing!

  • Rachel Casey

    we need to be friends… we have many a theme party to plan and discuss.

    • Nicole Paulhus


  • Raelee Harrell

    I am in awe of the pictures! I wish this article had a slideshow too!

    • Nicole Paulhus

      I am rarely in pictures alone and I don’t think my friends are as cool with embarrassing pictures of them posted on the internet as I am, otherwise this article would have been full of ridiculous visual aids.

  • Daisy Perez

    Oh man, you dressed up as Ron Swanson!! Just give me all your bacon and eggs :) One thing: I don’t think Ron Swanson would ever eat low-cholesterol eggs, but I understand why it would be much easier to hold that carton than an actual egg.

  • Caterina Carpanè

    Totally like you! From Jersey Shore to Country, from the 80’s to Ancient Egypt I love every chance to put on a costume!

  • Rachel Barth

    LOVE your Ron Swanson. I thought about being him for halloween last year but figured people probably wouldn’t get it. Also I was invited to a fruits and vegetables party and really wanted to dress up as eggplant (but really Ann Perkins as eggplant) but unfortunately I couldn’t go. My friend and I are talking about having a party and turning her house into the Snakehole Lounge, though, so the possibilities for dressing up are endless!

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