Event Design: 12 Key Ingredients for Bringing Event Themes to Life

Gala DecorSometimes, event planners have to design events on short notice. Even when lead times are longer, it is always helpful to do a final check and ensure that you have not missed an opportunity to incorporate a key ingredient that will bring an event theme to life. Here is a quick checklist with some of the ingredients to consider when designing an event with a theme:

  1. Theme Names: The right name can instantly communicate a theme and prepare attendees. Use mind maps and idea changes to do some initial brainstorming. Alliteration works well for event themes. Theme names can also be inspired by storybooks, movies, TV, sports and even board games. Be sure to verify and contact the copyright holder for any names that are not in the public domain.
  2. Colors: Colors can come from nature or man made sources including flags for foreign event themes, athletic team colors for sporting event themes, and corporate logos.
  3. Flowers and Plants: Experiment with floral arrangement that reflect the theme and incorporate theme colors. Even a table arrangement for the head table, stage or front of the room can go a long way in setting the tone.
  4. Indoor garden dinnnerVenue: Continue brainstorming to come up with the right venue. Selecting the right venue can go a long way towards conveying a theme and it can also significantly reduce decorating costs. For example, on the Cvent Blog, we have discussed everything from venues for tropical events to winter event venues,  venues for winter garden parties, and Christmas event venues.
  5. Seating: We have previously discussed the importance of seating for events in which you want to foster engagement and inspire learning. Seating also plays a role in event seating. For example, a Middle Eastern theme can be conveyed with divan seating and low tables. With a tight budget, you can use special seating for just the head table.
  6. Chair covers: Chair covers are often used for weddings and formal events but they can also work well for conferences and business meetings that have a special theme.
  7. Linen and Napkins: Linen and napkins can be an affordable way of conveying a theme and incorporating color. Once again, with a tight budget, consider giving just the head table the special linen treatment.
  8. Centerpieces: We have previously discussed Christmas Event Centerpieces. The principles are the same for events at other times of the year. Centerpieces don't have to be expensive. They can be created from toys, objects from nature and common household items.
  9. Music,  Film Clips or Entertainment: Music and film clips are ways to create the right event ambiance. Be sure to get a license for public performance and match selections to the theme. With higher budgets, live performances become an option. 
  10. Catering Menu selections are a powerful vehicle for reflecting the selected theme. Focus on the menu but also how it is served. For example, Bento boxes could be used for a Japanese theme. See our list of creative services options in Making Working Lunches Fun and Interactive.
  11. Backdrops/Draping: A photo backdrop at the front of the room can instantly create a sense of place. For a tight budget, large posters can replace posters. Draping adds a dramatic or formal touch to events.
  12. Lighting and Candles While lighting and candles are often used for formal events and galas, experiment and have fun with them for less formal events. For example, if you want to use a camping theme, flashlights can add the fun factor to entertainment or a business exercise that involves dimming the lights.

These 12 ingredients will help you scale up or down and create an event that delivers the "wow" factor within the scope of your budget. When budgets are limited, focus on the name, colors, menu, and music to get the most bang for your creative buck. 

Search the Cvent Supplier Network for Services to help you pull your event theme together.

Photo Credits: Auburn Alumni Association, macieksz

blog comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter
Receive updates on the latest trends, best practices, and strategies
to transform your meetings and events