How to Plan a Gathering with a Theme by Annie Gruber

 A.      Pick a Theme

  • Choose something appropriate for your occasion and the guests you will be inviting
  • Choose something you really like or already have things to use for it
  • Have a theme that fits the season. Example: Nutfest for autumn

B.      Plan your Menu or menus

  • Choose foods that fit your theme, or give your dishes festive names
  • Use seasonal foods and local if possible
  • Pick colors of foods that go with your theme
  • Be sure to make your menus nutritionally balanced and healthy
  • Some themes give you lots of ideas, like apple and pumpkin.  Try not to overdo it, too.

C.      Plan Decorations

  • Make banners and signs to fit the occasion. Use scrapbooking paper to make colorful banners.  If you aren’t crafty, use theme-colored ribbons on cording. We used pairs of baby socks clothes pinned to a line for baby shower.  Craft stores have pre-cut banner paper.
  • Purchase party decorations and balloons
  • Choose serving pieces and dinnerware in colors to go with your theme
  • Use tablecloths and napkins to go with the theme. Buy yardage of fabric if you don’t have something appropriate.  I have a big collection of all colors of bandannas that we use as napkins, or to wear.  They can be used as gathering bags for rocks and shells; so many uses!
  • Gather up items you already have or that you can borrow from family and friends
  • Shop at your favorite stores—check clearance corners (I check Target, Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, and Dollar Stores)
  • Make a play list of music if appropriate, or gather CD’s
  • Party lights are fun. Little white or colored lights can be used.  I have a collection of decorative light strings I use, such as shells, pigs, fish, chili peppers, tropical flowers, hearts, and so forth.

D.     Plan Crafts and Games

  • Look online for crafts that fit your theme. Pinterest is a good source.
  • Check the old Herb Journals for wonderful craft ideas from Susan Betz, Linda MacDonald, and Jane Taylor, our very own crafty members!
  • Make the crafts easy enough if kids are involved, or your guests aren’t too crafty.  Be sure to provide supervision.  Painting rocks that you find with acrylic paint is always popular!
  • Brown Paper bag scrapbooks are inexpensive and fun to make.  If you google it, you’ll find lots of help on how to make them.
  • Example: For Pirate theme, plan a treasure hunt.  We did a pirate ship piñata, and painted treasure boxes that we filled with coins and jewels.

E.      Plan an Outing to Enhance your Theme Idea

  • If this is appropriate for your event, it can be fun!  We sailed on the tall ship Manitou in the Grand Traverse Bay for our Pirate Themed week.  We planned to go to a corn maze for Corn fest, but it rained.  Kids love outings!

F.       Favors or Gifts to Go With Your Theme

  • Everyone loves these.  Make something simple or buy an inexpensive item.  Everyone got black bandannas for Pirate theme.  I had white towels personalized with each person’s name in Aqua for Spa week, our 30th summer at Elk Lake.

Having a theme is also a wonderful educational opportunity.  I have learned so many things I didn’t know about cultures around the world.  It helps bring us all closer together!

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