Why Themes Are The Key To a Great Party
When the coronavirus pandemic began and millions of people started working from home, virtual happy hours became a common way to bring people together. Soon, as it became clear that virtual everything wasn’t ending any time soon, Zoom fatigue began to set in. Suddenly, virtual happy hours were something to be dreaded instead of anticipated.
But with many companies shifting to permanent remote work for all or some of their employees, it’s clear that virtual happy hours are here to stay. But you don’t have to stick with the same boring meeting every week! When done right, virtual happy hours can be a lot of fun.
One of the best ways to make sure your happy hours don’t get boring is to choose different themes for each one. Here’s how to do it.
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How to Choose a Virtual Happy Hour Theme
There are countless options for virtual happy hour themes. But there are a few key factors to consider before finalizing your theme.
Who’s Attending Your Happy Hour?
It’s important that you tailor your happy hour theme to who’s attending the party. If it’s a work event, make sure your theme is HR-approved. Themes related to risque movies or tv shows, or that would require you to play music with inappropriate lyrics, should probably be kept for parties with your friends instead of your coworkers.
Consider your attendees’ likes and dislikes when thinking of a theme. If your coworkers’ interest in sports begins and ends with the annual office Super Bowl pool, then they probably won’t appreciate a tailgating theme. You likely won’t be able to hit everyone’s interests perfectly every time, but it’s important to try your best to make everyone feel included.
Can You Choose A Seasonal Theme?
What time of year is it? If you can’t think of a theme idea, choose one based on the season! Beach themes are great for the summer, while a Frozen party could be great for the winter. Holiday themes are also an easy way to plan parties throughout the year. The options are almost endless, with everything from Halloween or Valentine’s parties to silly “holidays” like “Play More Cards Day” or “Optimism Day.” Find more silly holiday ideas on DaysOfTheYear.com.
Of course, you can always switch it up and throw a Christmas in July party!
How Much Time Do You Have?
Another important consideration is how much time you have for the party. In order to really be effective and fun, some themes will require a more elaborate set up, games, and overall implementation than others. If you only have a half hour or so, stick to basic themes that don’t require attendees to get dressed up or make fancy drinks that require a lot of time and effort.
When choosing your virtual happy hour theme, remember that the point is to have fun! If your theme requires a lot of effort from attendees who aren’t as into happy hours as you are, then it’s going to feel more like a chore for them. Some partygoers love getting dressed up and making fancy drinks, whereas others may be signing onto the Zoom just to check a box and show their boss they’re there. Keep your themes in line with the enthusiasm of the group.
It’s also critical that you avoid offending anyone with your themes. For themes revolving around other cultures, make sure you don’t perpetuate harmful stereotypes with your planning! And consider your attendees’ financial and home situations when asking them to prepare for the theme. It may not seem like a lot to ask someone to wear a costume, but if it requires them to spend money they don’t have to buy one, it won’t be a fun party. If they’re a busy parent, they may also not have time to go out and buy supplies. When possible, send any decorations or supplies to attendees to keep the effort on their end minimal.
Of course, always think twice about themes centered around drinking alcohol. People may choose not to drink for a variety of reasons, so if your party is drinking-focused, always give non-alcoholic options that are just as fun! Mocktails are always a great choice in these situations.
What You Need To Throw a Great Themed Happy Hour
In order to stick to a theme, you should consider several important elements. A successful themed happy hour doesn’t require all of these factors, but you need at least one or two to pull off the theme and set it apart from a regular party.
One of the easiest and most fun ways to set the mood for a theme party is to establish a dress code. Encourage everyone to dress up to fit the theme! For example, guests at a Super Bowl-themed Happy Hour can wear their favorite football jersey, and attendees at a Spring Fling Happy Hour can wear flowery dresses or pastel-colored shirts. To go the extra mile, ask guests to style their hair and even their makeup to fit the theme, as well.
No Happy Hour is complete without some appetizers! Send your guests some quick, fun recipes to prepare ahead of time, or share a list of your favorite menu items they can order in. If you have the budget, you can even send food kits and make your food together as a fun happy hour activity. For example, if you’re hosting a Lunar New Year Happy Hour, you can send your guests a dumpling-making kit and make dumplings during the party!
Drinks are a must-have at any happy hour, virtual or otherwise. After all, what’s a St. Paddy’s Day Happy Hour without some Guinness? Make sure to include non-alcoholic options and tailor your ideas to the theme. Send recipes and, if possible, ingredients to make cocktails ahead of time.
Plan your playlist and have it ready to play in the background during the party. Music can go a long way to setting the mood and really immersing yourselves in the theme. After all, have you ever attended a Halloween party without spooky music playing? If it’s a work happy hour or if guests might have their kids with them, make sure the playlist is clean. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises!
No theme party is complete without decorations! For a virtual happy hour, this can be pretty simple—just ask everyone to set their Zoom background to an appropriate image to fit the theme. Some people might want to go the extra mile and decorate their physical background to fit the theme, though. For a Harry Potter-themed party, that could mean hanging Hogwarts banners behind them, or simply blowing up some balloons for a birthday party.
With theme parties, details matter! The more you can do to add to the ambiance and make the party fit the theme, the better it will be. After all, you want the party to stand out from your typical happy hours, right? That doesn’t mean you have to take a lot of time or spend a lot of money, but little things like choosing the right songs can make a party a lot more fun.
Now that you know everything that goes into throwing a great themed happy hour, here are some theme ideas to try. The possibilities are endless!
Decade-themed parties are a classic for a reason. They’re fun and super easy to pull off. You can get specific (80’s workout-themed Leotard party, anyone?) or keep it general by just asking everyone to dress up to fit a specific decade. Your music choices will be simple, as you can choose anything from that decade that fits the theme. Food and drinks can also be tailored to the decade theme. For a 1950’s party, for example, you can encourage everyone to make Jello or enjoy a Sidecar. (But maybe not together!)
If you’re hosting a series of happy hours, you can try a different decade each time. Most people will be able to pull together a costume from their own wardrobe, and will have a ton of fun getting to try out different hairstyles from across the decades.
Movie or TV Show
Another fun theme idea with endless options is choosing a movie or tv show. You could also choose a genre, like horror movies or 80’s teen films. Guests can dress up as their favorite characters, eat iconic food from the movies (like Jjapaguri from Parasite), and drink the characters’ favorite cocktails (Dry martini. Shaken, not stirred). Play the movie’s soundtrack, choose a scene from the film for your Zoom background, and you’re all set.
There are any number of variations on this theme. You can host an Oscars Party every year, or a premiere party for when your favorite tv show finally returns after the summer break. Whether you choose classic movies, cartoons from your childhood, or cult horror films, your guests are sure to have fun getting into the theme.
Holiday Happy Hour Themes
Holiday happy hours are some of the most common themed parties you’ll experience. Virtual Christmas parties can be more complicated than your typical happy hour, with virtual white elephant gift exchanges, fancy drinks, and drunk coworkers, but can also be among the most fun and memorable events.
You can host a themed happy hour for pretty much any holiday, big or small. Aside from Christmas, Halloween is probably the most common holiday for a virtual party—and the easiest to pull off. Ask everyone to wear whatever costume they choose, throw on Monster Mash and Thriller, and eat candy! Holiday-themed parties are typically straightforward, because they often come with their own traditional drinks, food, and even clothing. Wear red on Valentine’s Day, green on St. Patrick’s Day, and eat hot dogs and hamburgers during your Fourth of July Happy Hour.
Sports-Themed Happy Hours
If your guests are into sports, there are tons of opportunities for sport-themed parties. Go with a generic tailgating theme at any time of the year, encouraging attendees to wear their favorite jersey and drink beer. Celebrate tournaments like the Olympics or World Cup, or just throw a baseball-themed party at any point in the MLB season.
Some sports themes can appeal even to those who aren’t big fans. Kentucky Derby parties give guests the opportunity to wear fun hats and drink mint juleps, without any real need to watch the race itself. Depending on the theme, you can put a game on in the background, and won’t even have to worry about a soundtrack.
Other Theme Ideas
Of course, there are any number of additional themes you can go with. Hosting a last-minute happy hour and aren’t sure what to do with so little time? Choose a color! For a blue party, everyone can wear blue shirts, eat blueberries or blue cheese, and listen to songs that mention the color (Blue Suede Shoes, “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” etc).
You can also choose a theme based on your travels, like Oktoberfest for Germany or a Luau-themed party to remember your week in Hawaii. Classic Halloween costumes can also give you some good ideas, like superhero or zombie-themed parties. Even something as simple as a pajama party can be a lot of fun!
Full List of Virtual Happy Hour Themes
Here are 58 ideas for virtual happy hours:
Decade Happy Hour Themes
- Flapper Party (1920’s-Themed Party)
- Sock Hop (1950’s-Themed Party)
- Mod Party (1960’s-Themed Party)
- Hippie Party (1960’s-Themed Party)
- Disco Party (1970’s-Themed Party)
- Hair Band Party (1980’s-Themed Party)
- Leotard Party (1980’s Themed Party)
- Grunge Party (1990’s-Themed Party)
- Boy Band Party (2000’s-Themed Party)
Seasonal Happy Hour Themes
- Ice Queen/Snow Bunny Party (Winter-Themed Party)
- Spring Fling Party (Spring-Themed Party)
- Beach Party (Summer-Themed Party)
- Pumpkin Party (Fall-Themed Party)
Holiday Happy Hour Themes
(Note: These holidays are US-centric and not an exhaustive list)
- New Year’s Party
- Groundhog Day Party
- Lunar New Year Party
- Valentine’s Day Party
- Galentine’s Day Party (Valentines Day-Themed Party)
- St. Patrick’s Day Party
- Easter Party
- Cinco De Mayo Party
- Mother’s Day Party
- Memorial Day Party
- Pride Party
- Juneteenth Party
- Independence Day Party (4th of July-Themed Party)
- Labor Day Party
- Halloween Party
- Election Day Party
- Thanksgiving Party
- Christmas Party
- Hanukkah Party
- Kwanzaa Party
Sports-Related Happy Hour Themes
- Superbowl Party
- Kentucky Derby Party
- World Cup Party
- Olympics Party
- Wimbledon Party
- Champions League Party
- NBA Finals Party
- Stanley Cup Party
- World Series Party
- Tailgating Party
- College Football Party
Other Theme Happy Hour Ideas
- Movie Happy Hours (Harry Potter, James Bond, 80’s Movies, Star Wars, etc)
- TV Show Parties (Friends, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, etc…)
- Luau Happy Hour
- Beach Party
- Renaissance Party
- Black Tie Party
- Color Party (Choose any color!)
- Music Festival Party
- Oscars Party
- Pirate Party
- Superhero Party
- Zombie Party
- Pajama Party