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  • Writer's pictureRichard Langford


Ever had trouble keeping your delegates awake during a conference, or struggled to turn your employees into brand advocates?

Then theming your internal events could be the simple answer that you’ve been longing for.

Over the last 18 months I’ve seen a huge increase in the demand for themed events and an increase in budgets for those already adopting them – and here are a few reasons why…

Our younger delegates are looking for more interactions that will challenge their attention span and keep them interested – they’re seeking immersive experiences that they can share and remember - old-skool employers are finally reacting to demand and because employment is on the up, so is the confidence to spend money in areas that will have a positive, longer lasting, impact on employees, suppliers and clients.

I’ve strung together some useful trends and tips on how to deliver the perfect themed event. So, as long as the Coronavirus doesn’t kill our event scene over the next few months, these pointers should definitely keep you on the right track.

What is Event Theming?

Event theming is a service where a creative delivery, based around film, literature or a cultural occasion, is used to bring an event to life. It provides guests and delegates with an immersive and memorable event experience. Themed events will often include the use of life-like props, creative lighting, audio visual, venue dressing, integrated event design and print.

Why is theming important for an event?

A themed event can embody the creative passion of a business. It allows a business to convey the objectives of an event in a playful way and ensures that participants gather around a common idea. A well-chosen theme can facilitate networking, learning, create brand ambassadors and can even achieve the revenue target for a fundraiser.

What event themes are most popular?

There's been a recent increase in the popularity of musical based themes since the release of films such as the Greatest Showman, La La Land and A Star Is Born. Timeless themes that always prove popular include Moulin Rouge (Parisian Burlesque) and The Great Gatsby.

Recently there has been a massive shift towards Peaky Blinders, and off the back of Brexit, we’ve seen an increase in satirical political themes. In 2020 we’re seeing an increase in World War I & II themes, thanks to films such as 1917 and the 75th VE day anniversary celebrations 8-10 May 2020.

And with the forthcoming release of ‘No Time to Die’, I imagine that we’ll see an increase in James Bond themes over the next few months too.

How do I host a themed event?

Firstly, choose a theme that will suit your audience. Do some research to find out what is popular, or on trend. Secondly, find a venue that suits and decide how much you want to spend on theming. If budget is tight, rather than spreading your theme thinly, it’s worth focusing your budget on one or two impact areas such as entrance features, stage features, fun table dressing, or a fun photo opportunity.

How much should I spend on a themed event?

The cost varies for themed events and is based mostly around the size of the venue, the number of guests and of course whether you do the hard work yourself or let the experts do it. It’s always good to have a budget in mind from the start and then weigh-up the pro’s and cons’ of doing the work yourself or outsourcing it. It is always possible to dry hire props and enlist the help of friends or colleagues.


1. Set the scene with a themed invitation

Set the expectations for the event with a themed invitation without giving too much away. A themed invitation will also get guests excited – start the anticipation early.

2. Choose a venue that will make planning the event easy

Before you secure a venue make sure you ask the venue whether you are allowed to style the room. Or better still, choose a venue that saves you a lot of time and budget by already having a theme or styling included!

Important: Make sure you ask what time you can access the venue to start setting up. If you are unable to access the venue with enough time to decorate and style the venue, it will have detrimental effect on your event schedule – we’ve seen this happen, a lot!

3. Choose a venue that people can get to easily

If you're going to all the effort of planning a themed event, make sure your guests can get there. You will want to find a venue that is central and easily accessible. See our post on Birmingham venues

Take into consideration whether the venue can be reached by public transport and whether there is car parking on site. If your chosen venue ticks these boxes, then include those details on the invitation.

4. Make sure the space fits your guest numbers

Choosing the right venue has a lot to do with the size of your group. The event space needs to work for your minimum numbers without feeling bare, but also be able to accommodate any last-minute additions.

If your dream venue is a little too big for your numbers, use some styling features to “bring in” the space to make it feel more intimate e.g. a drape line, a large backdrop or some clever lighting will do the trick. Food stations, entertainment and a gift table can also help fill the space.

5. Immerse the guests in the theme

The success of a great themed is all about successfully transporting the guests to a new environment. Immerse the guests in the theme with styling and décor – for example, if you’re hosting a Great Gatsby themed party, guests should feel as though they’ve arrived at the art deco-styled grand mansion.

6. Theme the food, but don’t go overboard…

Serving fun, easy-to-eat, delicious food is the most important catering tip to remember when organising any party. Adding themed food stations are a great way to enhance the theme without compromising on good taste.

We’ve seen an increase in the popularity of themed food stations such as Hot Dog Stands, Taco Stations, Noodle bars, Pizzeria, Fish & Chips, Popcorn, Candy Floss and food theatre.

7. Don’t forget the drinks!

A signature cocktail on arrival is the perfect way to set the scene, but make sure you have the standard drinks available too. If you’re keen take the theme up a notch, style the bar itself, rather than the drinks.

8. Encourage your guests to dress the part

Encouraging guests to come in fancy dress is a sure-fire way to build momentum before and at the event. Fancy dress can heighten the anticipation of the event as well as the overall atmosphere on the day. Guests will also be far more engaged as they become participators, rather than just attendees. Run a “best dressed” competition to reward those that really went all out.

9. Be sure to provide entertainment and plenty of photo opportunities

Hiring roving actors or entertainers to compliment your theme is a great way to add to the overall atmosphere. If you’re hosting a James Bond themed ball, then make sure you’ve got plenty of hired baddies hiding out around the venue!

Use props to create a fun and interactive photo-booth - giving guests an opportunity to take home a memory of the night is always fun. By creating a fun themed photo opportunity, it will encourage guests to share their experience on social media too!

10. Make sure you can accommodate the entertainment.

Music is the thread that ties your themed event together. Be sure to have a good-sized dance floor and a band or DJ that will encourage everyone onto the dancefloor.


We encourage every event organiser to get out there and try something different – themed events are great fun to organise and can be very rewarding when they’re done the right way.

However, not everyone has the time to go out there and do it for themselves. So, it goes without saying that at Theming Services, we’ve got your back. We’ve both the facilities and resources to take on all, or some, of the important elements that will make your themed event a success.

Call me: +44 (0)1922 405 111

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