Parties are fun, but themed costume parties are even better. Especially for diverse groups, where all of the guests may not know each other, the common theme immediately provides a unifying factor and an ice breaker to make mingling and making new friends fun and easy! Unfortunately, many hosts find the idea of adding to the usual effort of throwing a party by turning it into a themed costume party daunting. Don’t worry! With this comprehensive checklist, throwing the best themed costume party ever will be a breeze!
- Guest list
Arguably one of the most important parts of throwing a great party is having a great guest list! You will have to choose the specifics of who comes yourselves, but there are some things to consider when you build your list. The guest list affects everything else about your party!
First, decide how big your ideal party should be! A party for five is designed much differently than a party for fifty or five hundred! For an intimate gathering of ten guests or fewer, single franchise themes like the X-Men work really well. Everyone can be a different character and even if you have duplicates or triples of one or two characters, you aren’t drowning in Wolverines, Rogues, and Storms.
Another great thing about small parties is that you can split the work for refreshments. Small parties are perfect for potluck-style food and drinks, where every guest brings something. Just make sure that your guests coordinate what they’re bringing, so you don’t have endless bags of chips and no drinks!
Medium sized parties fit the greatest range of costume themes, from crayon colors, to superheroes, to the Wild Wild West or a tropical jungle. Large parties are well suited to contrast themes, like Devils and Angels, Vicars and Tarts, or Flintstones and Jetsons. If you want to reconnect with a small group of friends, go for a small party. If you want to introduce friends who don’t know each other to your other friends and increase the degree of connectivity in your social circle, medium sized parties are the best. But if you want to make new friends and expand your social group, large parties are perfect! Encourage your guests to bring along a friend or three, so you can meet lots of new people!
While deciding the guest list may be the most consequential decision you’ll make about your party, the theme is the most fun decision! When choosing a theme, think about what you like and what sort of party you would like to throw, but also consider the preferences of your guests. While you might think a Vicars and Tarts party is a good time, it may not be the best theme if you are throwing a party for your work colleagues or inviting families.
Your theme can be inspired by current events, pop culture trends, or the time of year. It can also be in direct contrast to something in your immediate environment! For example, a Frozen party in the middle of summer or a Hawaiian Luau in the dead of winter makes for a fun and refreshing change-up. If your friends are the type to never be more than a few meters from their phones, an Emoticon party, where everyone dress up as a favorite emoticon, is a great fit! If you’re a diverse group, throw an Animal Kingdom party, where everyone dresses up as a favorite animal. If you’re a very literary group, throw a Book party, where everyone dresses up as a favorite character from a book. The theme possibilities are endless!
The usual default for a small to medium sized party is generally partying at home. Throwing a party at home can be a lot of fun and a convenient, affordable option, but take the time to consider alternate venues. For large parties, choosing an appropriate venue can mean the difference between a peaceful morning after and a chaotic morning after of cleaning up your home and wincing at destroyed personal belongings and furniture.
If the weather is nice, a field can make a great venue for certain types of themed parties. A field, or better yet a barn, is the perfect setting for a Wild West West Party! A Finding Dory, Pirates and Mermaids, or Aquatic Animal themed party can be made even better by throwing it by a lake! Though it requires more monetary investment, renting out a ballroom for a Renaissance party or a Royalty party makes the whole event so much more elegant!
Decorations are your venue’s costume! The right decorations can transform an ordinary living room into a fantastical wonderland for an Alice in Wonderland themed party, an icy landscape for a Frozen themed party, a lush rainforest for a Nature party, or a different part of the world for a Regionally themed party. Make a big splash from the very first moment your guests arrive at the party, with door decorations! Wreaths, balloons, and streamers are all great door decorations.
Theme your food and drinks, but also present them in a way that fits your theme! One of the most interesting refreshments table displays that has stood out over the years was a shallow canoe, with a high hollow bottom build in so that there was just an inch or two of space below the edges of the canoe. The seafood display looked great in the shallow canoe and it fit the nautical theme perfectly!
Decorating for your party is a great opportunity to be creative and set the mood for your party before the first guest arrives. Think outside of the box!
Estimate how much your guests will drink and make sure you have well more than that. You don’t want to run out! Have some fun mixed drinks, some typical drinks and standard beers for the less adventures, juices and sodas for those seeking a non-alcoholic option, and plenty of bottled water to make sure that your guests party responsibly.
The drinks are another opportunity to stick to your theme and make your party stand out! Make a special themed drink, exclusive to only your best costume party ever, and give it a name fitting your party theme. Jungle Juice for a Jungle party, Magic Potion for a Witches and Wizards party, and Holy Water for a Vicars and Tarts party all make the drinks a cool part of the overall partygoing experience!
Taste is one of the main senses that we experience our worlds through, so be sure to captivate your guests’ tastebuds! Go to town with appropriately themed food. Think about everything from flavor to texture to color to shape when you plan the perfectly themed foods for your party! While obviously appropriate things, like gummy worms and goldfish and fried crickets for an Animal Kingdom party, are great, you can also turn more ordinary ingredients into theme-appropriate foods. For a spooky party, peeled green grapes become delicious eyeballs!
As with the drinks, be sure to have plenty of food to go around and put the food table(s) somewhere near the drinks. Often people want a bit of both at the same time!
Taste is one of our main senses, but so is sound. Sound has the amazing ability to imprint memories for us for years to come! Make sure that your party playlist is topnotch. Not only should the music be fun and good, it should be themed! You can put together a playlist by hand, or create a custom station on Pandora to play theme-appropriate music throughout the night.
Lighting might very well be the most overlooked part of party planning, but it can be so important if it is done right! The light sets the mood – it literally affects how you see everything else about the party. There is a reason why mood lighting is typically the dim light from candles and not the glaring white light of harsh fluorescent lights. Make sure that your lights aren’t too bright! You also don’t want your guests to be stumbling around blind, so a happy intermediate is the goal.
Lighting is yet another opportunity to let your theme shine through. For a Luau, tiki torches are a must to transport your guests to Hawaii for a fun night of merrymaking! Depending on your venue and your theme, sometimes colored lights or a bonfire can be really nice, as well.
- Extra time
No matter how well you plan your party and how much you factor in time for everything, the rule of hosting is that if something unexpected can happen, it will. Even if you have gone over all the possibilities and are convinced that nothing unexpected can happen, it still might! That is why it is absolutely essential to plan extra time for the unexpected. If your party begins at 8pm, be sure to have everything ready by 6pm at the last. 5pm is even better!
The same goes for props and materials. If you are ordering balloons, paper plates and plastic cups, props, or anything else, make sure that they are all scheduled to arrive at least a day or two before your event. Your supplies are not going to go bad if you get them early, but you will be stressed out if you arrange for same-day delivery and your packages get tied up in the post. Always leave yourself extra time!
- Host attire
As the host of the best themed costume party ever, you have to have a great costume! Make sure that your costume fits the theme and that it’s something fun and unique that you feel good in. This might be surprising, but while you want to make sure that you aren’t the boring one at your own party, you also need to consider practicality in your costume and perhaps trade having the very best costume for having a good costume that you can be a great host in.
As the host, you will be on your feet a lot. From serving food and drinks to running around to welcome guests and make sure all goes well, there is a lot to do! Make sure that your shoes are comfortable and your costume doesn’t restrict your movement much, if at all. It is possible to find a cool and comfortable costume for every theme, and as the host it is important that you do so!
Make sure that your party is as memorable as can be with a surprise that is sure to knock your guests’ socks off! If your social network contains some A-Listers or you manage to get some great PR for your party, have a surprise celebrity guest come once all of your other guests are already there. Alternately, and if your budget allows, hire a live performer! Live music, belly dancers, fire breathers, and other talented performers all give your party that extra something to really blow your guests away.
If neither is an option, don’t worry. You can still have a great surprise! Party games are manageable on any budget and can be so much fun. Anything from a Whodunnit game to a scavenger hunt to a themed version of Never Have I Ever can add a pop of fun. Time the game to start sometime in the middle of the party, after all of the guests have arrived and had the chance to socialize a bit, but before the early sleepers start to head home.
The unexpectedness of an entertaining surprise, paired with the fun of an unusual experience, makes it something your guests will be talking about for long to come!
When you have put in the effort to throw such a great party, why would you want the fun to end at the end of the night? There is no need! Set up a photobooth and not only will you have great memories to enjoy for long after your night of fun, but your guests will, too!
Setting up a photobooth isn’t difficult, time consuming, or expensive. All you need is a decent camera, a simple table, a backdrop, and some fun props! In a pinch, a monochrome bedsheet hung up on the wall makes for an acceptable backdrop. Themed backdrops are even better! Make a big collage of comic strips or movie posters for a Marvel-themed party, or paint a jungle scene on a white sheet for a jungle themed party! Silly hats, mustaches, wigs, feather boas, and oversized glasses all make fun, funny props. The sillier the better! The perfect way to end the perfect party is to make sure that the fun lives on forever in your and your guests memories.
There is a lot of thought that goes into planning the perfect themed costume party, but there is absolutely no reason why you should have to do it! We have thought through every aspect of a perfect party, so that you don’t have to bother. Enjoy the fun of throwing the best themed costume party ever, without the worry of forgetting something and without the stress of lots of time spent planning the party in advance. Armed with this comprehensive party planning checklist, throwing an amazing themed costumed party will be a breeze!