Special Events American-Style

July 4 firewoksIt's the 4th of July. While our American readers take a break and celebrate American Independence Day, I thought readers from other parts of the world would enjoy exploring themes for American-style events.

There are many approaches that run the gamut from picnics and relaxing barbecues to elegant galas and star studded events. Event planners can select themes and design events around:

  • An Era
    When one thinks of American-inspired eras, the Roaring 20s, the 50s, and the 60s immediately come to mind. Invite guests to dress in vintage clothing and use retro memorabilia and accessories. In England and Wales, vintage props are for hire through Eventprophire.
  • Movies
    Whether you select Gone with the Wind, Oklahoma, Picnic, State Fair, An American in Paris, American Graffiti, or even South Pacific, movie themes can provide inspiration for props, decor and music. Hollywood or Academy Awards themes are guaranteed crowd pleasers. Be sure to take the steps to legally use movie title, music from soundtracks, and props. For companies planing to take their team to the U.S. for an incentive trip, retreat or meeting, the Property Department at Warner Brothers Studios is a gold mine for American movie themed props and furniture to rent.

  • TV
    Mission Impossible, The Wild, Wild West, Miami Vice, and Happy Days are a few examples of American TV classics that would make great event themes. For a young demographic, pick from Game of Thrones, American Idol or So you Think you Can Dance? TV props can be rented from Tower Bridge Studios in London
  • A Sport
    Football is a favourite national pass-time and basketball is a close second. Take over an American-style sports bar like Champions in Frankfurt and plan a football or basketball theme event. Schedule them around play-offs or finals and simulcast the game. For another option, have a an all-American tailgate party
  • A Holiday
    July 4th isn't the only time to throw an American-style bash. Other occasions for celebration include Lincoln's Birthday, Valentine's Day, and Halloween. Alternatively, pick a holiday like American Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day (George Washington's Birthday), and of course, Christmas (or Christmas in July events). 

American Chamber of Commerce Christmas Party (Italy)

  • Music
    American artists have introduced some incredible musical genres to the world. There is something for everyone. Take your pick from jazz, 60s-style surf rock (e.g. The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean), rock 'n roll, R&B, gospel choirs, blues, disco, funk, and country and western for starters.

    Try classics like George and Ira Gershwin favourites or Broadway show tunes. For a patriotic touch, the marches of John Philip Sousa (The Stars and Stripes Forever) or George M. Cohan (You're a Grand Old Flag, Over There) will fit the bill.

    Music by American legends including Elvis, Bruce Springsteen, and Michael Jackson is always a great pick. Don't forget hip-hop and rap to appeal to a younger demographic. Fortunately, classic DVDs and CDs make a variety of music more accessible than ever. For example, The T.A.M.I. Show, a 1960s classic film with The Beach Boys, The Supremes, James Brown (as well as artists like The Rolling Stones from the 1960s British invasion), is available through The Shout Factory.

  • Venues​ Ideas
    Themes can be build around specific US venues or they can come to life in an American themed venue. Searches will uncover some great finds like Billy's American Restaurant Chain in Poland, Revolution America Square in London, Baker Bounce, American Diners in Tokyo, and Ralph's All American Restaurant in Paris owned by Ralph Lauren.
  • July 4 cakeMenu Suggestions
    Steak, potatoes, barbecue, fried chicken, chicken divan, chicken pot pie, jambalaya, corn on the cob, corn bread, soul food, ice cream sodas or floats, milk shakes, apple pie, strawberry shortcake, ice cream sundaes.

    For Christmas and Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings is a wonderful treat. For casual events, American favourites include hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and sloppy Joes.

American Chamber of Commerce Picnic, Vietnam

How many of the elements in this blog post can you spot in this picnic celebration?

No matter what approach you select, keep in mind these 12 Key Ingredients for Bringing Event Themes to Life.

Photo Credits: Beverley, US Embassy of Canada (Ottawa)

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