top 10 party themesContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

Party time! Get out the food and drinks. Set your playlist. Send out the evites. But wait! What about the theme?

I know … you don’t want something that will take weeks to plan, and cost almost as much as your last car. But some of the best themes for a party don’t require a lot of work — and don’t cost a fortune. Here are my top ten ideas … some new, some tried and true.


10. Casablanca

top 10 party themes casablanca

Decorate your space like Rick’s Café … exotic lounge decor is easy. Make some Moroccan arches out of cardboard and tack them over doorways. Turn down the lights. Use small lamps, and bring in some palm trees (real or inflatable palms will work.) Serve champagne and other sparkling wines in slender champagne flutes, and turn on the sultry 40’s music. Instant glamour! Talk your guests into coming in costume and this will be a party to remember.

9. Bond. James Bond.

top 10 party themes james bond

Who could resist a 007 party? Ask guests to dress like spies (good guys and bad guys both work) or classic “Bond Girls”. If yours is a geeky crowd, ask everyone to bring a secret gadget to describe to the group (or make of game of having everyone guess what hidden powers each item possesses!)

The featured drink would have to be martinis, of course. And shaken not stirred, so bring out those 1950’s and 60’s cocktail shakers. Dim the lights and create a nightclub feel. Or have the movies playing (silently, of course) on a big screen TV where guests can’t miss it.

8. Shipwrecked!

top 10 party themes shipwrecked

Your ship has crashed onto a desert island. Now what? Guests should wear what they imagine they would have been wearing when the ship went down. (Do specify that people shouldn’t come au natural!) Turn your yard or family room into the makeshift hut with the bits and pieces salvaged from the crash. Or head to the beach to make it really authentic.

Bonfires or bar-b-ques are great for this party. Check out your local dollar store for bags of shells, and thrift shops for mismatched dishes. And don’t forget the coconut shell cups!

7. A kids’ party

top 10 party themes kids party

Is there anything that beats the fun of an old-fashioned kids’ birthday party, especially when there’s not a kid in sight! Serve soda, cake and ice cream, play new, active kids’ party games or classics like Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey, and run through the sprinklers. A taste of childhood and one of the best themes for a party for er, um, grown-ups. Oh and don’t forget the goodie bags for everyone to take home!

6. Name that wine!

top 10 party themes wine tasting party

Lots of people say they’re wine experts, but how many can really tell a Cabernet from a Burgundy? Put your guests to the test, and have some fun teaching people about wine with a “Name that Wine” party.

Offer small samples of delicious reds, whites and sparkling wines and make it into a game. If you can, bring in a true expert to help or provide some materials to teach people about wine and wine tasting. And be sure to provide plenty of cheeses, breads and a desserts to round out the party.

5. Get out into the garden

top 10 party themes garden party

A garden party is a classic that still works wonderfully. When spring rolls around (or midwinter if you’re in sunny Florida!), take the party out among the flowers. Set up tables under the trees or scatter them near the pool. Go vintage and use different floral tablecloths. Or opt for a more formal look with matching white. Either way, light foods like salads, chilled soups and finger sandwiches work beautifully.

4. Farmville anyone?

top 10 party themes barn dance hoedown

Give your guests a down-on-the-farm experience with an old-fashioned hoedown. Bring in hay bales for seating, hire a square dance caller and ask everyone to dress for a barn dance. Never mind if you don’t have a real barn … this is a great theme for a backyard party, too.

Serve classic hamburgers and hot dogs with plenty of big bowls of potato salad to pass around. Serve lemonade or iced tea in canning jars, and offer up all-American desserts like jello, Seven-Up cake and sugar cookies.

3. To the Shire!

top 10 party themes hobbit and shire

With the release of the first part of the Hobbit trilogy, the Shire is on everyone’s mind. But even after the hype has come and gone, creating a party in the Shire is one of the best themes for a party.

First of all, the food is easy. Cheese, bread, dishes made with mushrooms. Meade, dark beer or ales (apple cider works, too) are the beverages of choice. And the costumes are super simple. For hobbits, it’s lots of cloaks and brown pants with suspenders. Bare feet, of course. And there are wizards and elves, too. Play lively fiddle music or have a full dramatization recording of the LOTR trilogy playing in the background, and your Hobbit or Lord of the Rings party is all set!

2. And the murderer is …

top 10 party themes murder mystery

Who doesn’t want to play detective and catch the guilty party? Maybe that’s why murder mystery parties are among the popular choices for grown-up (and teen) parties.

You could write your own story and create all the clues, but it’s much easier to buy one of the boxed murder mystery sets. Plan your food, party decorations and costumes around the mystery itself, and your party will be ready for the big reveal.

1. You might be a redneck if …

top 10 party themes trailer party

Bring out the inflatable baby pools and folding lawn chairs! It’s time for the trailer party! Head for the thrift store and grab a couple of old TV’s to stack up (preferably with rabbit ears on top), serve cold sodas from an ice-filled kids’ pool, and load up on the Cheez Whiz and cocktail weenies for your camo-covered table. It’s party time!