Parties & Entertaining

Homecoming theme ideas

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Homecoming is one part nostagia and one part party!
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A grand college homecoming requires a theme arising from ideas that shine

Giddy up, pony. Hooray for Hollywood. Aloha? The buzz on campus is that homecoming this year will be the best ever presented. 

Meanwhile, behind the scene, event organizers and legions of volunteers are trying to come up with some novel homecoming ideas that will live up to the hype. 

The growth of the Homecoming experience

Gone are the days when so many students stayed close to home for their university years. Colleges and universities nowadays produce a global community of former students. After graduation, alumni went their separate ways to seek their fortunes, setting up lives and businesses near and far. Now, it’s time for these men and women to return to their school and celebrate their academic rooys. roots.

Since guests will be traveling to the campus from other states and foreign countries, too, it would be oh-so satisfying if the final choice among all the possible homecoming theme ideas resulted in an event of universal appeal. And no, a simple party before or after the Big Game won't cut it. 

The planning process

A memorable Homecoming starts with lots of planning, starting almost as soon as the last Homecoming weekend wraps up.

Step one is usually sorting through all possible homecoming theme ideas, and trying to pick "The One." What is super? What is silly? It's almost as hard as it was to pick your major!  

Not sure where to start? Relax. There are many popular themes to get the creative juices flowing, such as:

Hawaiian luau      
Mardi Gras      
Wild West      
Fancy formal      
Hollywood     
Harry Potter    
Game of Thrones    
At the Beach 
Vampires (pick your fave TV show, movie or author...there are lots!)
Zombie (ditto...lots to pick from)
Wine and Dine
Cupcakes and Memories

You can use this list to start the conversation, and see where it takes you. 

So how do you make the final choice? 

The responsibility is sobering. After all, the short list homecoming theme ideas that eventually become THE theme will be made instantly famous—or infamous—on social networking sites. Grads and guests are sure to be all a-twitter for many weeks after the big doings. What kind of events will they talk about? A success or a yawn? Or even worse, a flop. 

That's why the plan is crucial. Ideas and suggestions may be percolating like black gold trapped far underground but channeling those ideas into a gusher of grand events is a hefty task. So how do you go from ideas to short list to the final choice? 

Consider the culture

Every school has its own culture. Some schools are sophisticated. A formal tone prevails—even during halftime. Other schools are more laid back. And some are all about the "fight for your right to party." 

Think about the themes you're considering in terms of that culture. Will a Wild West theme leave people wandering in the quadrangle, wondering what kind of hick event they've stumbled upon? Will a black tie affair trash your RSVP rate, as people more comfy in shorts and flip-flops bail on tuxes and gowns? Matching the theme to the culture makes it more likely that people will RSVP with a "yes" and enjoy the weekend. 

Consider the budget

A more involved theme which requires lots of decorations, props and even interactive elements will probably cost a lot more than a simple day-at-thebeach afternoon picnic. And unless you have a big budget or an underwriter with deep pockets, that will probably mean higher tickets prices which could be a problem for budget-conscious alums.  

Try to strike a balance between making the experience memorable and making it cost-prohibitive. If you really have your heart set on a fancy affair, see if you can bring in commercial sponsors to cover some of the expenses and/or materials. 

Consider school spirit

At some schools, the orginal concept of homecoming has been folded into a broader idea of school spirit, with a homecoming game and event as a piece of that larger celebration. 

At other colleges, spirit is such a universal concept that they have discarded the term “homecoming” entirely in favor of “spirit week.” The new label invites smaller groups within the university to get involved, increasing the appeal. This is an especially effective strategy for larger universities where students may know more people based on clubs, sororities, fraternities and other smaller groups instead of the larger schoolwide community. 

It also seems to foster increased participation by undergraduates in school events such as homecoming parades and the traditional homecoming football game.

With this kind of new labeling, larger events can rely on school spirit themes, regional themes or mascot-themed celebrations. It also opens the door for a larger theme that each small group can add to with their own piece of the party. For instance, a Spirit Week or Homecoming theme of "Joining the Circus" would allow each group to develop decorations, parties and entertainment around a circus motif. 

Recruit resources

The best homecoming celebrations draw on the achievements of alums.Considering looking over some recent alumni magazines that tout the accomplishments of graduates. Some grads have gone on to open restaurants, night clubs or retail stores of one kind or another. Others may have taken over management of a theater, recreation facility or health spa. Is there a connection? Could those ties be useful to the homecoming? 

Recruit those resources. Tap the spirit—the spirit of giving, of participating, or even of coming up with a new and exciting theme. 


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