A list of popular cocktail party themes for your holiday celebrations

The holidays are QUICKLY approaching and if you are prepping last minute – well shame on you! However, with the following list of creative and fun cocktail party ideas you can easily plan a memorable party that will WOW everyone in attendance.

1) Winter wonderland – Decorate your party with crystals and use blue lighting to create an icy effect. Add snowflakes for additional winter ambiance. Have a hot chocolate or hot tottie bar to warm guests up. Doing a company event? Surprise guests with snow from a snow machine or bubbles.

2) Naughty or nice – This theme can be created using food and drinks that are “naughty” vs. “nice.” You can also decorate one side of the room in red and black and the other side in white. If you want to be a little riskier, ask guests to dress in celebrity naughty or nice costumes.

3) James bond – This is a black tie affair. Have guests wear suits and formal dresses. Décor should parallel a royal casino or upscale dinner party with martinis being served shaken, not stirred. Tell guests to watch their favorite Bond movie prior to attending to get in character. You can even rent a red carpet for the entrance to set the stage for the evening.

4) Fire & Ice – Use red and blue décor to signify fire and ice. Guests wear red, blue, or a touch of both. A strong fire in the fire place and an ice sculpture in the center of the food display will really set the two areas apart. If you don’t have a fireplace, faux fires are safe and inexpensive and can add a warm touch to any party.

5) Ugly sweater – This is a more laid back and fun theme. Guests wear the ugliest Christmas sweater they can find and take lots of awkward photos while wearing them. Adding family pets is always a great touch.

6) Festivus – For those frustrated with commercialism and the pressure of other December holidays, Festivus is a secular holiday that occurs on December 23rd made popular by Seinfeld. Celebrations are of grievances, feats of strength, the aluminum pole, and Festivus miracles. “Festivus for the rest of us!” – Frank Costanza

7) Break your resolutions early – Before your new year’s resolutions take full effect, have a food smorgasbord with your friends. Have a pie bakeoff, bring your favorite sweets, or set up a chocolate fondue party and pair each chocolate with a wine! This is our favorite theme!

8) White Christmas – To get you in the holiday spirit with the lack of snow on the ground, have a party decorated in all white. Request your guests to wear all white too. It might be a good idea to stay away from red wines for the night. Use white leather furniture or white drape to really carry the theme through! Need help with the details? Buy this theme in our theme library.

Now that you have the theme of your cocktail party picked out, the rest of the planning elements will fall into place more easily. Make sure you choose foods, favors, entertainment, and décor that aligns with whichever theme suits your celebration best!

What is your favorite holiday cocktail party theme that you’ve created or attended before?

Planning and managing a tradeshow can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are a lot of details to provide prior to, during, and after the event. One of the most important aspects is managing your vendors. Because they’re taking their time and resources to be there, you want to be sure to manage their expectations and provide them with accurate information throughout.

Our Vendor Experience

We’ve been vendors at numerous tradeshows throughout the years and wanted to share one of our latest experiences as an example of what not to do and help you learn how to better serve your vendors.

We recently attended a tradeshow as exhibitors in order to meet and network with event and meeting planners in a different part of the state.

It was a one-day show that promised to bring in as many as 500 event and meeting planners. In order to extend our reach and visibility in the community we took the plunge and paid the booth fee, hired labor for travel and hosting the booth. On top of this, we created new graphics for a fresh look and produced flyers and additional collateral to furnish our booth. Preparation wasn’t cheap – we put in several thousand dollars to make this happen as vendors.

One cost saver was that the event was from 3-7 PM and didn’t require an overnight stay. We arrived and setup in four hours, had a pleasant check-in experience, and were able to grab lunch at the local café before the show began.

Less Than Expected 

After doors opened, there was a VERY light crowd. We thought attendance would increase, but boy were we wrong. The expected crowd of 500 turned into a potential 100 and by the end we only saw about 25 meeting planners.

To say we were disappointed in the turnout is an understatement. To say the show was well organized, well, I’m just not going there. This was especially surprising with a room filled of vendors with extensive meeting and event planning experience.

Taking Advantage of Our Situation

To turn this negative experience into a positive one, we spent our time visiting with other vendors. We were able to set future appointments with them and have in depth conversations with the few meeting planners we were able to find in the slim group that attended.

Vendors are the core of tradeshows, so it’s important that you understand how to best serve them in order to ensure the success of current and future tradeshows. Learn our top tips for vendor management and appreciation from our most recent tradeshow experience below.

Here are a few ways tradeshow organizers can better serve their vendors:

1) Offer a vendor hospitality room

Although we weren’t there for a long amount of time, a place to put our coats and grab a water and small snack would have been nice. Any time you have people standing on a hard floor for a long amount of time, it’s nice to have a place for them to get away. Even for five minutes.

2) Underpromise and over deliver

Gather friends and friends of friends that are in the demographics you promised and make sure you deliver on the promises of attendees made. Trade shows are expensive ventures for your vendors so make sure you deliver the crowd.

3) Pay special attention to noise levels

Keep music and presentations to a level where the attendees and vendors can have a conversation. We could not hear the people that attended our booth and they couldn’t hear us over the very loud bands that had been booked to play during the event.

4) Make sure your deliverables are outlined and clear

I was told by the tradeshow intern that I would get a list of attendees. In this group the attendees this probably didn’t make that much of a difference, as they turned out not to be my audience. However, there was one person whose business card I didn’t get that I would have really liked to communicate with later. I was later told by the organizer that no list would be delivered. I understand that several of the other vendors were expecting a list as well. This should be clearly outlined for both the vendors and the attendees.

5) Offer incentives to help pull in attendees

For the companies and meeting and event planners in this area, an educational series or discussion might have made the difference deciding to attend. Tapping into the speakers’ or performers’ social media followers could have also increased the opportunity to reach more of the audience and incentivizing them to attend.

6) Don’t forget signage and/or mapping

Make sure there is a banner for each booth to hang on the drape at the back of the booth. If the vendor has their own signage, this is a waste of money but if they don’t, this would have certainly helped to identify the vendors. In this case, those were not provided and several vendors didn’t have any signage to identify them.

We know it’s a lot of work to put on a tradeshow, we know that there are a bazillion things to manage, but keep in mind that your vendors have paid you money to attend and are expecting what you promised in return. They too, have taken a risk of time and money to be there and it can be quite costly for them. Make sure you deliver!

Take a moment and think about the last event you attended. If you can vividly remember the handwritten invitations, the elegant entryway, gourmet foods and classy décor, chances are, you got themed. Themes help drive the vision and also create a seamless flow during any event.  Whether you choose something fun or funky, fantastical or serious, theming will ensure attendees are engaged and relaxed.  Here are 5 more reasons you should theme your next event:

1) Clear, Concise Messaging: When your theme ties into the message your client is trying to convey, the event is more influential and impactful.  For example, let’s say you’ve been hired by an organization that will be opening new offices all across the U.S. A great theme for a company’s journey to expand is the historic Route 66 theme.  You could also use this theme for a venue along old Route 66. See other themes we love.

2) Setting the Mood: Theming enhances the atmosphere of any event. From the time attendees receive their save the date cards to the end of the event; theming sets the tone and makes the difference between a good event and an event attendees will remember forever.

3) Cohesiveness and Connection: Nothing says professional as much as seamless elements flowing as one. When the food choices, the entertainment, lighting and room arrangement all work together, attendees feel connected and in tune with all the combined elements.

4) Manageability: By using a theme, every single element becomes easy to manage and deliver – which means success for you and your client looks like the hero!

5) An Event They’ll Remember: The best reason to use a theme is that your client and the attendees will remember and recall your event – taking delight in how everything flowed and how every element made them feel connected and a part of something bigger.

Don’t know where to get started? Read our blog on 8 Steps for Creating a Theme or How to Choose a Theme

Instead of relying on a broad vision, choosing a theme for your next event can guide you as you plan, alleviating any chance for missing an important detail. The focus that comes from theming your event will benefit you as an event planner, and will delight your client and their guests. And don’t even get us started about how much time and money you’ll save –that’s a whole other blog! Find more great resources, tips and tricks for being an Event Hero at