A good theme can take a party from average to unforgettable, especially if you get creative with music, costumes and decor. But one of the hardest parts of planning a party is coming up with the perfect theme. And to save you endless hours of brainstorming, we turned to the experts. We asked party planners for their best theme party ideas. And they gave us 101 (!!) of them. They shared the classic party themes that never fail. They gave us tips for freshening up old favorites. And they even came up with some last-minute party ideas you could throw together in a day.
In our list of expert-approved theme party ideas, you’ll find at-home spa days, ritzy red carpet nights, cozy ski lodge parties and more. With the hardest part of party planning handled, you can focus on the fun stuff: You can fill your space with fun decor, create a killer playlist and throw together a theme party your friends will never forget. Now for the guest list…
Need an excuse to throw a great theme party? Celebrate the next full moon. Make astrology-themed cocktails, invite your friends to dress like their zodiac signs and set intentions for the next lunar phase. You can even hire a Tarot card reader to do readings for you and your guests, The Bash says.
Host a theme party your friends will never forget by transforming your home into a tiki bar. Slip on some tropical garb, stock up on kitschy decor and whip up tasty tiki drinks. “Tiki bars and drinks are very trendy and make for a fun night,” serial home entertainer Pamela Salzman says.
Nothing beats a spa day with friends. But instead of heading to the spa, invite your friends over for a self-care party. “The best part of a pampering theme is that you don’t need to reserve a formal location—someone’s home will work just fine,” Lori Hulshof, party planner and esthetician, says.
DIY a food festival in your own backyard. Hire several food trucks for the night, or keep things simple with an elevated potluck. Andrea Correale, event planner and caterer, recommends asking your friends to make their favorite dishes. Then, set up stands where they can show off their homemade delicacies.
Throw a party that doubles as a swanky night in by turning your home into a speakeasy. Set the scene with mood lighting, whip up some classic cocktails and give guests a password to use at the door. This classic theme is one of event planner Carrie Davenport‘s favorites, because it’s always a hit with guests.
One no-fail way to have fun with your friends? Host a pool party—even if you don’t have a pool. Stock up on cute pool floats, or find an inflatable pool that’s big enough for a crowd. Then, take a page out of The Bash’s playbook, and rent an ice pop food truck for the day.
Travel the world without leaving your house by hosting an international dinner party, Marissa Johnson, professional event and party planner, suggests. Ask each guest to prepare an international dish of their choice. And during dinner, take turns sharing the stories behind your dishes.
Holiday parties are the absolute best. So why wait until December to throw one? Host your next Christmas party whenever you feel like it—and go all out with kitschy decor. Virginia Frischkorn, founder of Partytrick, likes holiday parties because they’re easy to throw together. And this one is no exception.
Turn your backyard into a biergarten by hosting a DIY beer festival, Correale suggests. Ask each guest to bring a six-pack of their favorite IPA, stout or lager. And have an incredible day tasting them all.
You’re never too old to have a pajama party. So invite your friends over for a night of wine and wholesome fun. To make the night feel elevated, Kristie Linda Meluso of KMA Events recommends sending guests home with personalized gifts, like monogrammed pajamas, silky eye masks or tiny bottles of bubbly.
When awards season rolls around, don’t just watch the Oscars on your TV. Throw a full-blown party, complete with a red carpet entrance, a Hollywood-worthy dress code and awards for your best-dressed guests, Brian Kelly and Sean Koski, co-founders of Ticket2Events, suggest.
When planning a party, be sure to choose a theme both you and your guests will love, Johnson says. One underrated option? Host a cooking class in your home. Hire a professional chef, invite some friends over and spend the evening mastering new dishes.
Glamping is always a good time. And with a little creativity, you can transform your backyard into a glampsite, The Bash says. Put up some tents, grab lots of pillows and blankets, and snack on s’mores while sipping champagne.
The White Lotus isn’t just an iconic TV show—it’s also a great party theme, according to Kelly and Koski. Set the scene with resort-inspired decor, and invite your guests to dress as their favorite characters. Then, turn the party into a murder mystery. Or just enjoy feeling fancy for the night.
Turn an average afternoon into a party by hosting tea time, Meluso suggests. Have fun dressing up, and invite your guests to do the same. Then, whip out your finest china, and serve sandwiches so tiny they’d make anyone feel posh.
Need an easy party theme you can throw together in an afternoon? Host Taco Tuesday, Frischkorn says. The only requirement is to serve tacos on a Tuesday. And if you want to make the event a regular thing, try different taco recipes every time.
The best part of skiing is lounging in the ski lodge afterward. So throw a Sip & Shred party that captures the best of that cozy vibe, party planner Molly Sinsheimer says. Tell guests to show up in après-ski attire. And serve cold-weather favorites, like hot chocolate and warm cider.
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but brunch is the best one. So invite friends over for a buffet of their favorite brunch staples. Johnson recommends adding a personal touch to your party with a signature drink. So whip up a house mimosa or a memorable espresso martini.
Throw an end of the world party, Y2K-style. Everyone can show up in their favorite aughts attire. And you can spend the night listening to your favorite childhood bangers. Professional events coordinator Mark Lynch says he loves decade-theme parties, because they’re easy to throw together and fun to dress up for.
Elevate your next outdoor gathering by hosting a garden party in your backyard. Establish a playful dress code, put flowers everywhere and serve snacks that make the most of fresh ingredients. Then, hire a bartender to mix up floral cocktails so you can focus on having fun, The Bash says.
Theme parties don’t have to be expensive or overwhelming, Davenport says. So keep your next bash simple by hosting karaoke night. With a single karaoke machine, you can keep guests entertained for hours. Just be sure to keep the volume up—and the drinks flowing.
Transform your home into a Barbie Dreamhouse, and invite your friends to join in on the fun, Meluso suggests. Stock up on pink decor. Serve cute treats and drinks. And of course, don an outfit worthy of Barbie herself.
Make your backyard feel like a luxurious getaway by hosting a resort-staycation-themed party, Correale suggests. Greet your guests with hotel-worthy amenities, like plush robes and cozy slippers. And make sure they have a cocktail in hand the moment they step through the door.
One easy way to upgrade your next dinner party? Give it a farm-to-table theme, Meluso suggests. Source local ingredients, and cook the meal yourself. Or hire a catering company to keep the evening stress-free.
“Classic theme parties are always a hit,” Johnson says. And casino night is a fan-favorite for a reason. So transform your next poker night with a fancy dress code and a formal bar. Or take your party to the next level by renting some casino games.
Treat yourself to a much-needed dose of hygge by hosting a cozy cabin party in the middle of year. Greg Jenkins, partner at Bravo Productions, likes this “rustic” theme because guests can dress up in clothes they already have. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to snuggle with a blanket in the middle of a party?
Can’t make it to Coachella? Host a mini musical festival in your own backyard, Correale suggests. Your friends can take turns playing DJ. Or you can stream videos from the festival while lounging in the grass.
Seasons make great party themes, Jenkins says. So host a dinner party focused on this month’s favorite flavors. Your Season’s Eatings party can revolve around fresh produce in the summer or pumpkins and apples in the fall. And you can turn the meal into a potluck to get everyone involved.
“A movie night party is a hassle-free idea you can throw together in no time,” Johnson says. So host a movie marathon or a red carpet movie premiere. And make the night feel special with movie trivia and a themed dress code.
Put a fun spin on the classic black-tie party by hosting your own prom. Stock up on kitschy decor, create a nostalgic playlist and invite guests to wear their original prom looks (or the prom looks they’d wear today). According to Lynch, black-tie parties are always a hit. And this idea is a fun way to switch things up.
Turn an afternoon into a luxurious escape by hosting a Masks and Mimosas party. Find a bunch of fun face masks, and load up on champagne. Then, invite friends over for hours of relaxation. “The underlying theme is ‘Pamper Yourself,’” Hulshof says.
If you can’t fly to Europe to watch the next Formula 1 race, host a Grand Prix party at home. Stream the race from start to finish, and serve snacks inspired by the race’s location. You can even weave in some car-themed decor, Carrie Baker of Carrie Baker Events says.
Throw it back to the glory days by hosting a summer camp party in your backyard. Set up tents, arts and crafts stations, and a cafeteria-style buffet. And be sure to serve lots of nostalgic snacks. (The Bash recommends renting a cookie dough food truck, but store-bought cookie dough should work just fine.)
No party is complete without great snacks and drinks, Johnson says. And a wine tasting puts them on full display. Ask every guest to bring a bottle, and take turns tasting them. Or do some research before the party, and pour a selection of wines that pair perfectly with the food you’re serving.
A 1980s party isn’t just fun—it’s also easy to throw together. So put on an ’80s playlist, tease your hair and dare your guests to fully embrace the dress code. “Send an invitation that includes a pair of shoulder pads, and tell [guests] they [have to] wear them to the party,” party planner Lynne Goldberg says.
You don’t need a yacht to throw a yacht party. Transform your space with nautical decor, throw on your favorite beach playlist and invite your friends to show up in boat-worthy attire. Then, be sure to serve lots of champagne and seafood. (The Bash even suggests hiring a seafood truck for the occasion.)
Bouquet-making parties are fun, photogenic and easy to DIY. (It’s no wonder that Evite’s Piera Pizzo and Fern & Maple’s Natalie Mayhew both love them.) Buy flowers for cheap at your local market, and spend an afternoon arranging them with friends. Then, bring the party together with a signature floral cocktail.
A “disco picnic” may sound like an oxymoron—and that’s what makes it great, Jennifer Needham of The Party Teacher, says. Set up a pretty picnic, complete with cozy cushions, charming flatware and lots of great food. And round out the event with disco ball decor.
The next time you throw a party, invite your pet to join in on the fun. Host the get-together in your backyard, and tell your friends to bring their favorite furry companions. “With treats and favors for both pets and humans, everyone is sure to leave this party happy,” Mayhew says.
You can’t go wrong with a James Bond party. Establish a strict dress code, stock up on sleek decor and serve martinis all night long. And to really commit to the theme, Correale recommends making your guest of honor do a stunt as a grand entrance.
“When a theme takes you into another world, it allows [you] to let loose for a few short hours,” Amanda Hudes of Smiling Through Chaos says. And we can imagine no better way to let loose than with a college-style house party. So set up a beer pong table, stock up on canned beverages and serve the cheapest snacks you can find.
Capture the magic of summer during any time of year with an Endless Summer party. “Create a beach or resort atmosphere with bright colors [and] lively music,” Johnson says. “[And] serve a delicious menu of summer favorites, like fish tacos and a signature beach-themed cocktail.”
Have a wholesome night of fun with friends by hosting a Bob Ross painting party. “Who doesn’t love painting, Bob Ross and happy little trees?” event expert Jennifer Perkins says. “Supply guests with small canvases [and] paints, and queue up The Joy of Painting!”
A theme that involves costumes is always a good time. And when you throw a Seven Deadly Sins party, it’s easy to get creative, Meluso says. Divide your space into seven stations—one dedicated to each sin. And invite guests to dress accordingly.
“You don’t need to be in Nantucket to host a clambake,” The Bash says. So steam some seafood in your kitchen, or throw some shellfish on the grill. And serve up classic clambake-style accoutrements, like grilled vegetables and corn on the cob.
Pop culture tie-ins can make parties more fun, David Jacobson of TrivWorks says. So celebrate the premiere or finale or your favorite TV show by throwing a themed party. Tell guests to dress as their favorite characters, and play the show’s soundtrack all night long.
Transform your next outdoor dinner party by hosting a luau, The Bash suggests. Since luaus are traditional Hawaiian celebrations, you’ll want to take care to respect the culture. Serve customary dishes, play Hawaiian music and help your guests understand the history behind the event.
Candyland parties aren’t just for kids, party planner Missy Robinson says. If you never grew out of your sweet tooth, host a sugary-sweet gathering full of tasty treats and candy-packed cocktails. And have tons of fun with your decor.
Host a coastal social that transports you to the Hamptons—even if there’s no beach in sight. Invite your friends to show up in coastal-cute outfits, set the scene with beachy decor and serve a menu packed with delicious seafood. To bring the night together, you can even hire a steel drummer or ukulele player, The Bash says.
One easy way to throw a party? Slip on some PJs, and whip out your favorite board games. “It’s easy to make the house feel cozy with the fireplace on, blankets and pillows and a bunch of board games,” Salzman says. Whether the games are a side activity or the focal point of your party, you’re sure to have a good time.
Instead of tying your party to a single decade, plan one that honors every decade. Ask friends to dress in clothes from different eras. Play top hits from every year, in order. And stock up on retro decor. “Many stores carry vintage decorations and clothing, so it’s easy to find supplies and costumes,” Lynch says.
Throwing a black-tie party doesn’t have to cost a fortune, Lynch says. Once you’ve set a strict dress code and stocked up on champagne, you should be good to go. If you can, move furniture around to create a ballroom-type space—and invite your friends to start dancing.
Some of the most creative theme party ideas come from the smallest budgets, Jenkins says. So the next time the weather is nice, throw a field day in your backyard. Set up a sack race and a tug of war. Serve your favorite childhood snacks. And divide your guests into teams with color-coded jerseys.
Why wait decades to enjoy the gifts of retirement? With Sinsheimer’s Bubbles in Boca theme, you can vicariously escape to a Florida retirement community any time you want. Fill your space with beachy decor. Wear your finest coastal grandmother attire. And most importantly, keep the bubbly flowing.
Murder mystery parties may be goofy, but they’re also ridiculously fun. So go ahead and host one, Meluso says. Snag a murder mystery game kit to guide the night. Or create your own murder mystery game, and tailor it to your friend group.
Can’t make it to the next BTS concert? Host your own, Nikki May of Nikki Connected, says. Hang posters of your favorite K-pop groups, queue up some concert videos and get ready to dance all night long.
“If you and your friends all love the same show, it’s fun to throw a party that highlights [it],” Lynch says. So take your love of The Great British Baking Show to the next level by hosting a bake off in your backyard. Keep the stakes low, and invite your friends to make their favorite sweet treats. Then, finish the event with a taste-test.
Celebrate game day with a backyard tailgate packed with fun games and delicious food. This party theme is especially great for away games and out-of-town tournaments. And Jenkins loves sports-themed parties in general, because they’re easy to throw and just as easy to dress up for.
The next time it snows, invite your friends over for a cozy snow day party. Make a big batch of hot chocolate, crank up the fireplace and slip on your snuggliest pajamas. Salzman and Frischkorn both love pajama parties—and a snow day’s a great excuse to throw one.
If going to Burning Man isn’t in the cards, event planner Brian Worley recommends hosting your own. Throw the party in your backyard, set up some arts and crafts stations and camp out overnight. Then, cement the event by lighting a campfire—or creating a mini-burning man of your own.
“When you can’t afford to take your guests on a cruise, bring that cruise-like experience to them,” Jenkins says. Fill your space with nautical decor. Tell guests to wear poolside attire. And create an activity-packed evening, complete with trivia, bingo and other cruise ship favorites.
Rhinestone cowboy parties are surprisingly easy to throw, Frischkorn says. And they’re a delight for guests to dress up for. So crank up the country music, dress in denim and diamonds and give guests cowboy hats to throw on the moment they arrive.
TikTok is a treasure trove of trendy foods. And by hosting a food fad party, you can give your guests (and yourself) an excuse to try them all. Sonya Kerr of House of Kerrs suggests throwing a jarcuterie party. But we’d take things a step further: Throw in butter boards, tinned fish spreads and anything else you’ve seen on your For You page.
Some party themes never get old. There’s something infinitely fun about dressing as a sea creature and spending the night “underwater.” And if you’re willing to get creative with decor, you can put a fresh spin on the classic theme, Worley says. Think: dramatic lighting, wall projections, ethereal backdrops and more.
Celebrate everyone’s favorite Miami foursome by hosting a Golden Girls-themed party, Perkins suggests. Set up a cheesecake bar. Play your favorite reruns. And snag a Golden Girls party kit that makes decorating easy.
The only thing more fun than a dance party? A glow-in-the-dark dance party. And hosting one isn’t hard. Set the scene with a blacklight, and ask your friends to wear white, Worley says. Or stock up on neon lights, glowsticks and glow-in-the-dark decor.
Hudes has seen lots of people incorporate art and entertainment into events. So embrace the trend by hosting your own open mic night. Ask your friends to take turns sharing their talents. Or formalize the event by hiring local artists to perform short sets.
The event planners we spoke to love Black and White parties—fancy events where guests wear black or white. “This theme never goes out of style,” Johnson says. “Have your guests dress head-to-toe in black and white, and create a ballroom-style atmosphere to fully embrace the classic feel.”
Celebrate Target in all its glory by throwing a party dedicated to the department store. (We’re not kidding.) Fill your space with red and white decor, Ariel Sagat of Hostess Helper NYC suggests. Then, set up themed stations—like a Starbucks-inspired coffee bar and a “Help Yourself” bar where guests can make personalized party favors.
Turn your backyard into a dreamy escape with a Bohemian Nights party, Correale suggests. Fill your space with pillows and blankets. Mix and match your drinkware. And serve a buffet of delicious food. (Correale recommends an oversized seafood bar.)
Drinking wine and painting stuff is a no-fail combination, party stylist Chári Herndon says. And we couldn’t agree more. So grab some rosé and some planters to paint, and you’ve got an easy theme party on your hands.
Celebrate everyone’s favorite time of day with a party dedicated to happy hour. “Curated cocktails and mocktails that are named for the party are always a fun surprise,” Frischkorn says. So create some happy hour drink deals, and serve your favorite bar snacks. After all, it’s five o’clock somewhere.
The key to hosting a great Alice in Wonderland party? Make it your own, Sagat says. Host during the holidays, and create a whimsical wintry wonderland. Or dream up a different way to reinterpret the classic theme.
Eurovision gave us the gift of ABBA. And by hosting a Eurovision night, you can celebrate the many other hidden gems that have graced the competition stage. DJing is easy: Just put on a Eurovision playlist. And invite guests to dress in costume—Lynch’s advice for any TV-themed party.
Being basic is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, according to Meluso, it’s something worth celebrating. “Incorporate all the basic things that everyone secretly loves, like brunching, bottomless mimosas, froyo [and more],” she says. And be sure to create an official event hashtag.
Want to throw a truly classic theme party? Davenport recommends hosting a masquerade. Invite your friends over for a swanky night of drinking and dancing. And ask them to get creative with their masquerade masks.
“Tried-and-true parties never fail, because guests know what to expect,” Kelly and Koski say. And toga parties are no exception. So tell your friends to transform their bedsheets into truly majestic togas. And host a toga fashion show, where everyone can show off their handiwork.
Instead of heading to a local bar for trivia, host trivia night at home. Ask friends to brainstorm questions, and serve pub-worthy drinks and snacks. If you want, you can even give your trivia night a theme. Just pick something approachable (like food or pop culture) that lots of people can enjoy, Jacobson suggests.
You don’t have to live by the beach to make your backyard feel like paradise. So pull out the beach towels, set up a cocktail bar and put on some soothing ocean noises. “Make the party even more fun with beach sports, like volleyball and bocce ball,” Johnson says.
Your theme party doesn’t have to be theatrical to be a hit. “Keep it easy,” Salzman says. So bookmark some recipes you’d like to try, crack open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving and invite your friends over for an old-fashioned dinner party.
One unexpectedly fun idea? Host a retro roller disco party. “Transport guests back to the fun and simple days of hanging out at the roller rink,” Mayhew says. To pull this one off, you don’t have to let people skate indoors. Instead, fill your space with fun lighting and retro decor, and play classic roller rink tunes all night long.
Turn your home into an old-fashioned apothecary—complete with dried flowers, candles and cocktails served in potion bottles. Set up a drink station where people can mix their own elixirs. And go all out with your decor. “Decorations play a big role in setting the mood and atmosphere [at any party],” Johnson says.
“[A] dream theme would be a ‘come as your favorite SNL character’ costume party!” Baker says. With decades of characters to choose from, everyone can get creative. And you can play your favorite reruns in the background all night.
Put a punny spin on your next cocktail party by hosting a craft cocktail party, where everyone mixes their own drinks. Hire a mixologist to teach you some bartending basics, and don your sleekest cocktail attire. Davenport says dressing up is half the fun of any party theme—and that’s definitely the case with this one.
Before dreaming up the wildest theme imaginable, give yourself a realistic budget. And plan a party you’ll feel comfortable hosting, Jenkins says. One fun option? Order takeout from different restaurants. And ask your friends to vote on their favorites, tournament-style.
You don’t have to wait until October to whip out your Halloween decor. By hosting a spooky soirée when people least expect it, you can surprise and delight your guests. And you can heed some of Salzman’s favorite hosting advice: “Use what you’ve got.”
Derby Day parties are fun, even if you don’t care about horse-racing. Tell your friends to show up in sundresses and hats, and serve mint juleps all day long. According to Johnson, custom cups can bring a theme party together. So be sure to order proper julep cups for the occasion.
Glitter is the name of the game with this party theme. Stock up on shiny streamers. Serve sparkling wine. And ask your friends to show up in metallic clothes, Goldberg suggests.
Throwback parties are always a hit. “Who doesn’t love reliving their wild youth?” Johnson says. And while your lemonade stand days probably weren’t that wild, they’re still fodder for a fun theme party. So set up some outdoor tables, batch some boozy lemonades and invite friends over for a nostalgic afternoon.
Play matchmaker by hosting speed dating night for all the eligible singles you know. Set up tables for two, brainstorm conversation starters and keep the night moving with a timer. “People love a good escape from the stresses of current reality,” Hudes says. And who knows? Maybe your party will lead to true love.
Celebrating a housewarming or engagement? Throw a Stock the Bar Cart party. Ask everyone to bring booze for your guest of honor so they can usher in their next chapter with a well-stocked bar cart. Kelly and Koski recommend freshening up old favorites—and this updated Stock the Bar party does just that.
Transform your next Roaring ’20s party by giving it a Great Gatsby theme, Meluso suggests. If you have a projector handy, play your favorite version of The Great Gatsby in the background. And tell everyone to come dressed to the nines.
Need an excuse to buy more plants? Throw a greenhouse party. Fill your space with greenery. Mix some botanical cocktails. And add an interactive station that gets your friends involved, Johnson says. One idea: Invite your guests to propagate plants and take them home as party favors.
The best theme parties aren’t just fun to attend—they’re also fun to host, Kelly and Koski say. So host a cocktail-making contest in your backyard. Tell friends to whip up their best margaritas and do a taste-test to pick the winner.
Need a theme for your next dance party? Hang a disco ball. Give the night a ’70s flavor with retro music, decor and costumes. “Guests can dig out their bell bottoms and platform shoes for a fun-filled night,” Johnson says. Or give your disco a modern-day twist with vibey lighting and low-fi music.
Decorating cookies is a fun way to celebrate any holiday. So invite friends over for a day of sipping cocktails and icing cookies. Stock up on cookie dough, frosting and sprinkles. Serve festive drinks. And instead of buying new holiday decor, use what you already own, Frischkorn says.
Party planners love throwing monochromatic parties. But Correale recommends hosting a rainbow party, instead. Tell everyone to come dressed in vibrant clothing. And serve colorful snacks, like vegetable crudité and funfetti cake.
Turn your next theme party into a truly unforgettable experience by shooting a music video featuring you and your friends. There are companies you can hire to do this, special events professional Richard O’Malley says. But if you’re hosting on a budget, you can turn the music video into a DIY project.
Transform your next dinner party by cooking the meal with your friends. Start with something simple, like DIY pizza. Then work your way up to more complex dishes. “If you plan to host similar parties in the future, you can switch up the theme each time,” Johnson says. So establish a dinner party schedule, and pick a different dish to master each time.
When hosting a jungle-themed party, your options are endless. You can fill your space with plants, tell your friends to dress in animal prints, queue up rainforest noises and more. “Digging deep into the kitschy parts of any theme can help transport guests into the world you pulled the theme from,” Kelly and Koski say. And with so many jungle motifs to play with, there’s lots to explore.
Turn your home into a retro diner, complete with vintage decor, fun lighting and boozy milkshakes. Serve comfort food on cafeteria trays. And create a jukebox-style music experience, where guests can request songs. “[When] throwing a theme party, small details are key,” Davenport says. So get creative—and commit to your theme.