Parties are not just for kids or celebrating someone’s birthday or promotion. People throw parties for many reasons so that their guests – whether friends, colleagues or potential clients – can mingle, chat, make new acquaintances, relax and have fun.

Adding a theme brings excitement to a party and makes planning easier. A party with a central theme helps determine the decorations, menu and dress code.

But what theme? Here are four popular ideas to consider:

Classic Cocktail

Cocktail parties are ideal if you want something glamorous, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Cocktail parties do not require a full-course meal. Since the event relies more on drinks, have soft drink options and three to four hors d’oeuvre for your guests to soak up the alcohol.

The party is easy to host, and you can add your style ‒ from five to 10 people under the stars in the garden to 20 to 50 people at, say, a restaurant with a modern European theme.

The cocktails you serve will determine the atmosphere and the dress code of the party. Martinis suggest that guests dress up, while a margarita party is a more casual affair. But no matter the ambience you choose, make sure to arrange the furniture and cocktail tables so that guests can move around to meet and greet easily.

By the Decade

A decade-themed party is perfect for guests who want to remember the good times, and for the younger ones to know more about how life was back then. If you do rummage around in your parents’ garage, you may find popular items that were all the rage. For 90s-themed parties, bring out the Tamagotchi, Beanie Babies, as well as movie and celebrity posters. Discos were a popular part of the 70s, so a disco ball and neon lighting will encourage your guests to dance the night away.

Have your guests dress up based on what was popular during that decade. Whether your party is set in the 70s, 80s or 90s, even if the genuine fashion items of the era was relegated to the scrap heap long ago, you can always look up ideas online and improvise. Bell-bottoms and vintage clothing were common items in the 70s, while 80s fashion was defined by neon clothing and Guess jeans, among others. For music, download a list of the most popular hits from a music streaming service. To add to the nostalgia, play these songs on an improvised boom box.

Beach Getaway

beach party

Beaches are a popular holiday destination, as well as a party theme. Depending on your budget and location, you can host a beach party in the back garden or down on the coast.

Wherever you choose to hold your party, make your guests feel like they’ve arrived on an island beach. Decorate the tables with seashells, starfish and raffia-tied linen napkins. For indoor beach-themed parties, add elements that would remind your guests of the waterfront, like palm decor, surfing memorabilia or typical seaside holiday items and furniture. Depending on the energy of your guests, choose natural surf sounds or reggae music to your party playlist.

Beach parties are all about relaxation, so guests are free to wear shorts and slippers at the party. Suggest Hawaiian shirts or clothes with tropical prints. You can always have them wear flower leis as they enter the venue.

Beach parties are not complete without dancing, so be ready to start a conga line or the limbo. Don’t forget to add a tiki bar where guests can find a cold beer or a colourful cocktail.

Masquerade Ball

Masquerade balls started as costumed public festivities in Venice during the Renaissance Era. They are still a popular theme in today’s parties because of their mysterious nature. If you decide to throw this kind of party, opt for hotel receptions or large spaces where guests can dance and show off their costumes.

The usual dress code for guests is black tie for men and gowns or cocktail dresses for women. Guests are encouraged to wear masks during the party. The decorations for a masquerade ball can range from simple to flamboyant ‒ as long as they exude sophistication. To give your party a Renaissance feel, use Venetian-style lamps and furniture, lanterns and drapes. If you want to keep things simple, use masks as the centrepiece of the tables and add intimate lighting.

If you are planning to host a party, it helps to think of a theme first. That way, you’ll have the direction you need when determining the decorations, menu, music and dress code. Once that’s sorted, it’s up to the guests to create the buzz.