How to Throw the Perfect Theme Party

If your friends are anything like mine, your social feeds were absolutely filled with people having Royal Wedding theme parties this weekend. Some people celebrated by eating scones and drinking tea, while others wore tiaras or fancy hats. Now, I didn’t actually celebrate the wedding, but I am a huge fan of theme parties in general. In fact, for my birthday this year, I threw a royal theme party of my own!

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Portrait | Toronto Beauty Reviews

Photo by Elsie Nisonen

{How to Throw the Perfect Theme Party}

Read on to find out more about my fête, including:

  • Theme & Décor
  • Costumes
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Food & Drinks
  • Activities
  • Tips for Throwing the Perfect Theme Party


Disclaimer: Image Makeover and Elsie Nisonen provided me with services at a discounted rate for the purposes of this story.

The Theme & Décor

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Banner Decorations | Toronto Beauty Reviews

Photo by Elsie Nisonen

This is where the party truly starts: finding a theme that will guide your event. You want to have a theme that’s specific enough to shape the tone of the party, but broad enough that your guests have some choice in how they approach it. I was celebrating my ‘champagne birthday’ this year, so I knew I wanted to play off of that. I’ve also had a lifelong fascination with Marie Antoinette. Since Marie Antoinette was a big fan of champagne, why not combine the two ideas? My Marie Antoinette-themed champagne birthday party was born!

I decided on a colour scheme for my event (gold, cream, and pastels), and set off to find inexpensive ways of transforming my modern apartment into a Baroque salon. I purchased party supplies online that had gold filigree patterns, and found some discount lace at a fabric store to use as tablecloths. Add in some LED candles in vintage candlesticks, a “Bienvenue” banner, a playlist with some classical music, and my living room suddenly stepped back in time to 1770.

 

The Costumes

For my theme party, I was particularly excited to see my guests in Marie Antoinette-inspired outfits! I wanted everyone to dress up, so I made sure that all my guests could do so in a way that was comfortable for them. I emphasized on the invitation that costumes would be mandatory, but I also provided a list of costume ideas at various price points: tips on how to DIY an outfit, links to stores that sell full 18th Century costumes, and search terms to use when looking for inspiration. Ultimately, I had guests show up in full-on Baroque dresses and wigs they had purchased specifically for the event, and other wearing modern outfits with little historical touches, like masks or gloves. The key was that the theme was clear, but broad enough that there were many different ways of interpreting it through costumes.

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Guest Photos

Photo by Elsie Nisonen

For my own outfit, I wanted something dramatic and elaborate, but I couldn’t afford to get one of the ready-made Baroque gowns I’d seen online. Eventually, I found an inexpensive 18th Century-style dress on eBay, then had it tailored to my specifications. That way, I got a beautiful dress that fit and looked exactly how I wanted, without breaking the bank.

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Costume | Toronto Beauty Reviews

Photos by Elsie Nisonen

 

The Hair & Makeup

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Hair Updo | Toronto Beauty Reviews

Photo by Elsie Nisonen

When most people hear “Marie Antoinette,” they immediately think of the queen’s famed pouf hairstyle. As I mentioned above, my invitations had hair and makeup suggestions for my guests, from links to wigs they could purchase, to ways to re-create the style inexpensively. For my own look, I planned to go all-out and have my own hair done in true 18th Century style. I gathered a selection of inspiration photos, and purchased silk flowers and cruelty-free feathers from Etsy to add to my pouf. I also got a few sets of inexpensive hair extensions to make sure that I had enough volume to work with, and some fun temporary hair dye to help my auburn locks better reflect the 18th Century theme.

This wasn’t a hairstyle I could do by myself. I called up my longtime stylist, Mario from Image Makeover Salon, and booked a consultation for an event updo about a month before the party. I brought the inspiration photos as well as the accessories, and we talked about how we would proceed. This ensured that Mario had a clear idea of what I was looking for in terms of hair design, and I had an idea of what was possible. Mario and his team are incredible stylists, so I knew that I was in good hands.

On the day of the party, I returned to the salon with extensions, flowers, feathers, and hair dye in hand. Mario’s colleague Paula got in on the fun, too! Together, they designed and created for me an absolutely stunning hairstyle that truly was fit for a queen. I was in heaven!

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Hair Front & Side View | Toronto Beauty Reviews

Photos by Elsie Nisonen

I wanted my gorgeous hairstyle to really be the centerpiece of my look, so I kept my makeup fairly subtle. As a nod to the 1770s theme, I powdered my face so that it would be a few shades whiter than my natural skin tone. To complement the purple and grey tones of my hair, I added pink eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick. One final touch of glam with my trusty Esquido mink lashes, and my look was complete!

 

The Food & Drinks

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Food | Toronto Beauty Reviews

Photo by Elsie Nisonen

With a theme party, of course, you have the added fun of tying your food and drink options into the theme of the event! For my Marie Antoinette party, I took inspiration both from historical documents and from the genius Sophia Coppola movie Marie Antoinette. I got a charcuterie plate, several trays of finger sandwiches, and fresh fruits catered so that there were enough snacks for everyone. Marie Antoinette was infamous for her excess, so for desserts, I made four different types of macarons, two flavors of meringue kisses, and cake truffles. The food table was packed!

It’s important to make sure that everyone can enjoy your theme party responsibly, so although this was a ‘champagne birthday’ party, I had lots of non-alcoholic options on hand, too. In fact, instead of having a signature cocktail, I decided that the signature drink for the evening would be a non-alcoholic party punch. That way, all of my guests could partake in the special drink, and those who wanted to could add a shot or two to their glasses. I also had both champagne and sparkling water available, so that guests could get into the bubbly theme, whether or not they were choosing to drink alcohol.

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Desserts | Toronto Beauty Reviews

The Activities

Activities are another fun way to bring your theme party to life. To emphasize the time period, I created a historical trivia game for my guests with interesting and weird facts about the 18th Century. I also made a guessing game about famous women throughout history, inspired by a game that Marie Antoinette herself often played with members of her court. Additionally, there were spaces for my invitees to sit and chat, as well as the Marie Antoinette movie playing on mute in the corner. This ensured that everyone could find something to do, and could engage with the other guests in different ways over the course of the evening.

Since I knew my guests would have put a lot of time and energy into their outfits, I wanted to make sure that there would be some great pictures from the party. I researched event photographers, and ran across the work of Elsie Nisonen, who agreed to come photograph my theme party. Elsie was absolutely fantastic! She got great shots of the room and food, as well as wonderful candid shots of the guests. For the first time in years, I didn’t have my phone with me, as Elsie’s presence gave me the peace of mind to just enjoy my event and not worry about documenting it.

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Activities Prop Box

Photo by Elsie Nisonen

Another big hit for the party was the Photo Wall. I purchased a photo backdrop online, and collected a bunch of different props, which I kept in a basket beside the backdrop. All night, my guests were having a blast with the wall, trying out different props and getting their photos taken by Elsie. Before I knew it, almost 5 hours had passed!

Marie Antoinette Theme Party Activities Photo Booth | Toronto Beauty Reviews

Photos by Elsie Nisonen

I’ve thrown quite a few theme parties in my day, but my absolute favourite has been my Marie Antoinette champagne birthday. It took a fair amount of planning, but it was an incredible night, and worked out even better than I could have expected.

To help your next theme party go just as smoothly, I’ve included some tips below.

 

Tips for Your Theme Party

  • Do a quick internet search of your potential theme beforehand, and ask yourself: can everyone find something to wear to this theme party? Is this theme something positive and fun? Good themes can be inspired by certain famous figures, a time period, a quote or idea – almost anything! Good themes do not, however, include people dressing up as appropriations of other cultures or mock peoples’ identities.
  • As the host, it’s your responsibility to ensure that everyone can find something to wear that’s on-theme. Do a bit of research beforehand, and include suggestions for your guests on your invitations. I also recommend having a few extra items on-hand during the party so that guests can add to their outfits, if need be.
  • You want the day of your theme party to be as stress-free as possible, so anything you can plan and prepare ahead of time, you should. Make a schedule, starting from the day of the event and working backwards so you can complete your to-do list in time and enjoy your party!
  • It’s easy for budgets to get out of control when there are so many wonderful things available online and around the city. Make a budget beforehand, figure out what your priorities are, and add in a buffer, just in case. If things seem to be getting too expensive, decide what you can return/DIY, or ask your guests to help out!
  • As any good host knows, every guest at your party should find at least a few different things to eat. A theme party is no different: ask your guests in about dietary restrictions in advance, and make sure that you have food and drink options for everyone.
  • Wondering how much food to order/make? A good benchmark is to estimate that every guest will eat 1-2 appetizer-type items for every hour they are at the event.
  • Provide a few different types of activities, so that guests can move through the space over the course of the event. Design some activities to be participatory (group games to get everyone talking), but leave some quiet areas as well, for those who aren’t as comfortable in social settings.
  • If you are able to, try to get a photographer. This can be a friend or acquaintance you’ve recruited for the event, or someone you’ve hired specifically to help out. Either way, it’s a huge relief to know that you can relax and enjoy yourself at your party, knowing that you’ll have photos of the fun to look at later.

 

Have you ever thrown a theme party? If so, what are some of the most important things to keep in mind?

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