Become a Theme Party Resource

Creative tips and suggestions you can pass along to your customers

By Penny Warner, Special to P&PR

Having a theme gives the event a focus and makes everything easier, from the invitations and decorations to the activities and refreshments. Most importantly, you’ll be offering customers tips and materials for their theme parties all in one spot.

Ideas for the little customers
More busy parents are choosing party packages for their child’s party — at a pizza parlor, park or play place — making the event simple, easy and affordable. The sites do most of the work by providing a space, some activities and even the food, leaving parents the opportunity to personalize the party by choosing a theme.

So no matter where your customers host their party — at a kids’ gym, an amusement park, a discovery museum or even at home — they can wrap the invitations, decorations, activities, refreshments and favors around one of today’s popular themes. Here are some examples you might suggest to your customers:

  • Choose a theme based on a popular TV show, film or video for kids, such as Handy Manny or Disney Princesses. Or choose a theme that has continued to delight children over the years, such as Pirates, Makeovers or Karaoke. Liven up your in-store atmosphere by hiring a life-size mascot of one (or a few) of the popular kids’ characters to attract even more customer attention. 
  • Set up a display showcasing all the parts to the party — the matching invitations, paper products and helium-inflated balloons in coordinated colors. For example, use Handy Manny or construction-related party products, Disney Princess or pink princess products, Veggie Tale or generic pirate products and Hannah Montana or girl-themed products. Attract attention to your display with festive inflated balloons in bright or matching colors.
  • Gather costumes to encourage guests to dress up for the theme, and then add accessories to help with cross-selling materials. For example, set out construction hats, plastic belts and toy tools for the Handy Manny party; tiaras, costume jewelry and boas for the Disney Princess party; eye patches, bandanas and toy swords for the Pirate party; and makeup, hair ties and mirrors for the Makeover party. Customers might not have considered a “dress up” party, but once it’s presented to them visually, it becomes more of a reality.
  • Suggest games and activities to play at the themed party. Set up a table with examples and fill in with a list of other possibilities. For example, set out blocks to play with for the Handy Manny party, tiaras and wands using craft materials to make for the Disney Princesses, treasure chests for pirate treasure hunts, glittery makeup items and mirrors for a makeover party, and music CDs to sing-along or dance to. Have a few sample games that kids can play while their parents are browsing, sort of like a “test drive” for the actual event. 
  • Create goody bags filled with items matching the theme, such as toy tools, tiaras, treasure chests, makeup supplies and music CDs. Make sure your display includes examples that the customer can buy in the store — everything from the physical “bag” for the favors to the theme-related items that go in it.

Don’t forget the adults
The grown-ups enjoy parties with a theme just as much as kids, so make sure you’re not neglecting this demographic. Encourage customers to treat their guests to a baby shower with a Tropical Luau theme, a milestone birthday with a Best Decade theme, a retirement party with a Lost Wages/Las Vegas theme or a bachelorette party with a Chocolate Decadence theme.

Get creative and mix and match occasions — Bon Voyage, Welcome Home, Graduation — with themes like Texas Poker Night, a Bikers & Babes Bash, a Murder Mystery party or a Clothing Swap/Fashion Show. Then take that theme and give your customers ideas to thread through the entire party. Here are some suggestions to get your customers in the party spirit:

  • For adult parties, set up displays much like the kids’ parties. If you want to showcase a Tropical Luau Baby Shower, mix and match tropical paper products, such as plates, cups, and tablecloth, with baby-themes items, like a fold-out stork decorated with a plastic lei, a basket filled with baby gifts mixed with tropical flowers. For a Lost Wages Retirement Party, set up a gambling scene, along with signs that read, “On Permanent Vacation” and “Bye Bye Rat Race.” Outline the displays with colorful, helium-inflated balloons to match the themes.
  • Suggest costume ideas for the party guests. Display Sherlock Holmes hats, Groucho glasses and masks for a Murder Mystery party and bandanas, sunglasses and spiky jewelry for a Bikers & Babes Bash.
  • For activities, play Texas Hold’em at a Poker Night party, solve a crime at a Murder Mystery party and put on a fun fashion show for a Clothing Swap party. One idea to attract customers to the store, and ultimately showcase your creative party offerings, is to hold a “game night” (or afternoon) at the store. Offer a valuable prize — such as a $100 party gift certificate — for the winner.
  • Create a display of take-home favors to match each party, such as a giant magnifying glass for the Murder Mystery party, a deck of cards for the Texas Hold’em party and fancy pens for the Graduation party. Again, make sure all of the items are available for purchase in your store.

Becoming a theme party resource not only helps your customers bring their parties together with coordinating invitations, decorations and favors, but it also gives you a chance to sell more product. Think about it — if a busy mom is interested in throwing a princess party and she sees a display with tiaras, costume ideas, invitation samples and take-home favors, she’s more likely to buy what she needs than to shop around at multiple stores. Use these simple ideas to maximize your profits and become that local, trusted resource.

Penny Warner is a party planning expert for Balloon Time and has more than 25 years of experience as an author and party planner. She has published more than 50 books, including 16 specific to parties. For more information, visit


Originally posted Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2010