80 Best Party Themes For Adults

Adult theme parties are a fun way to celebrate a birthday or special occasion, and they bring out your creative side. This is the best list of ideas and planning tips that includes dress up parties, unique themes, and classic ideas for grownups.

photo collage of parties with text reading best party themes for adults.

If you’re tired of letting the kids have all the fun, start planning a theme party for the grownups!

Best Adult Party Themes

Here’s the ultimate list of the best party theme ideas for adults. Use any of them for planning an adult birthday party or milestone celebration, girls night in, casual get-togethers, or just because! 

Some themes are good for couples while others are great for singles. Some are fun for guys’ night while others are perfect for ladies’ night.

party planning notebook surrounded by flowers, on white table.

Party Planning

  • Pick a theme and venue. I love a house party for about 25 to 30 guests if you have the space. Larger than that and you may need to take it outside or to an event space, community center or clubhouse.
  • Send invitations at least 2 or 3 weeks ahead if it’s not a busy time of year. Otherwise you’ll need to send a save-the-date or the invitations 4 to 6 weeks out.
  • If people need to dress in costume, give them at least a month notice so they have time to shop and order.
  • Decide if you want to make the food yourself, make it a potluck, or hire catering, and shop or plan accordingly.
  • Start gathering decorations and party supplies early so you avoid last minute stress.

EXPERT TIP: You can mix and match themes to create one spectacular party. For instance, combine a Kentucky Derby party with a bourbon tasting party.

How to Make It Fun

The first rule of Fun is to invite fun people! Pull a theme together and bring it to life by coordinating each of the key elements using your theme’s colors and ideas.

  • Themed invitations. It’s the first thing your party guests see so make it count by using the theme in wording and design.
  • Decorations. Make the party space festive with hanging décor, coordinating colors, and fun props.
  • Food. Serve a full menu or heavy appetizers based on the theme.
  • Signature drink. Serve a color coordinating punch, or specific cocktails related to the theme.
  • Playlist. Music sets the tone so create a playlist of songs that directly relates to the theme. Use music from the time period or from the locale.
  • Lighting. String lights, tiki torches, candles, low light bulbs are all used to set the party atmosphere.
  • Themed attire. If there’s a costume or special outfit required, let guests know in the invitation.
  • Group activity. Some themes come to life with an activity related to the theme, such as a murder mystery or tasting parties.
  • Party favors. Send guests home with a small token or food items that echo the theme of the night.

Food & Drink Themes

Food or drink is a classic party theme and the easiest starting point for planning. Here are some tried and true ideas, plus some you may not have thought of.

overhead view of sushi on long white dish surrounded by sake cups and Chinese takeout boxes.

Sushi & Sake

Delight your friends with a tasting party of Japanese sake and sushi. Turn it into a make-your-own sushi party, or simply order a platter from a favorite restaurant. Share in the planning by having each guest bring a bottle of sake that everyone can try.

Sliders & Ciders

Everyone loves small food! Have an assortment of sliders to eat, like mini cheeseburgers, mini crab cake sandwiches, barbecue beef sandwich sliders, etc. Serve them on wooden boards, and have plenty of french fries or potato chips on the side. Offer delicious hard ciders to wash it all down, or offer apple cider in the fall.

shot glasses rimmed with salt with lime wedge on top and mini bottles of tequila on Mexican theme table.

Tequila Tasting

This is such a fun idea, especially if you love tequila. There are a few ways you can execute it.

  • Pick one brand and taste 3 versions of it: blanco, reposado, and añejo.
  • Decide on one variety and taste 5 different brands.
  • Everyone bring a bottle to share; make sure each bottle is different.

Bourbon Tasting

Take the idea of wine tasting or beer tasting to the next level and host a bourbon tasting bar. It’ll be a hit with the guys! The concept also works for scotch tasting.

table set up with crate box holding bottles that spell, Beer, and shot glasses filled with different types of beer.
wine bottles and glasses on outdoor table covered with white lace cloth.

Beer Tasting Party

There are so many ways to host a beer tasting party. You can select a variety of beers from around the world, or choose a specific type like ales or Belgian style, or set up a beer shandy bar and let guests make their own flavors. It’s a great theme for a guys night, for couples, or a mixed group of friends.

Host a Wine Tasting Party

Wine tasting and pairing parties are a fantastic theme for a mixed group of friends or for ladies only. It’s interactive with a built in activity that people love. Host a wine tasting happy hour for the girls, or a food & wine party for a crowd.

long wood plank filled with chocolate squares and dried fruit on brown tablecloth.

Chocolate Tasting

Just as everyone loves wine, they also love chocolate. Set up a chocolate party for ladies night, or combine the two for a wine and chocolate tasting.

Fondue party

This retro party idea is ideal for a 70’s theme party or supper club with friends. Set up delicious cheese fondue for the main course or appetizer. Add a chocolate fondue platter for dessert or host a separate dessert fondue party on its own. Tell everyone to dress in chunky sweaters, have a fire going, and play board games or card games.

Dessert Party

Set the start time a little later so everyone has time to eat dinner. Any time between 7 and 9 o’clock can work well. Set up a dessert table and offer an array of sweets or mini desserts.

party table set up with pitcher of margaritas and snacks.

Margarita Happy Hour

Host an after-work margarita happy hour and set up pitchers of margaritas along with tasty appetizers. Make my favorite recipe for easy beer margaritas and serve with baked jalapeno poppers, chips & salsa, and guacamole.

Wine and Cheese Party

Host a wine and cheese party with an array of cheeses and hors d’oeuvres that pair well together. Make it a happy hour gathering or a weekend party.

Tea party

Prepare fancy tea party ideas for the ladies. This is so fun for bridal showers, mothers day, or birthdays. Set a pretty tablescape and have guests wear pretty dresses, hats, and gloves. Eat scones, tea sandwiches, and finger foods along with hot tea or an iced tea bar.

bar table set up with champagne bottles and jars filled with flavored popcorn, decorations are balloons and fringe banner.

Popcorn & Champagne

Make a champagne theme with flavored popcorn for a fun snack party. Make sure to have a variety of popcorn flavors from savory to sweet.

Pizza Party

Serve up a bunch of pizzas or have guests make their own. Create a pizza and beer party to combine two favorites into one.

Chili Cookoff

Create a little friendly competition with a chili tasting and cookoff party. Or simply set up a chili bar for a cozy night in.

soup party buffet table with white tureens, small bowls, and frames for a backdrop.

Soup Party

Similar to a chili party is a cozy soup bar complete with a variety of soups and sandwiches, or open face tartines and crostini.

Shrimp Boil

A shrimp boil is a great alternative to a backyard cookout, and is fun for graduation parties or summer birthdays. It’s a complete meal in one pot. Pour the food out onto a table laid with newspaper and you don’t even need a centerpiece! To make it extra fancy replace the shrimp for a lobster boil.

Sports Party Themes

Sports parties aren’t just for guys. Host a party for all the big events from super bowl to Kentucky Derby to the US Open to The Masters golf championship. There’s so much tradition around sporting events that you have a great starting point for signature cocktail ideas, decorations, and food menus

football themed table with cake slices on tiered server.
Tennis theme party with rackets as decoration, flowers, and food table.

Football party

Host a game day party to watch your favorite college team or pro team play, or for the super bowl. Set up a football themed popcorn bar, and decorate with team colors, pom poms, footballs, turf grass, or black and white stripes.

Wimbledon or Tennis Party

If you’re a tennis fan, a Wimbledon brunch party is the theme for you! Watch the tennis match on tv and have everyone wear a white outfit. This is a great birthday party idea for tennis lovers.

Basketball Theme

Get into March Madness with a basketball theme party. It’s pretty similar to a football party but decorations center around basketballs and hoops instead.

Kentucky Derby party

Host a Kentucky Derby party for adults and serve mint juleps and a bourbon tasting bar. Decorate with red roses, trophy urns, silver platters, and green moss runners. Dress in pretty dresses and fabulous hats. Guys can wear light colored jackets, suspenders and bow ties.

EXPERT TIP: Play games, but not too many. An activity can enhance a party, for sure, but you don’t want it to take over unless it’s part of the theme, such as Casino night or a Murder Mystery party.

Baseball Theme

Turn America’s signature sport into a baseball theme party for a special birthday celebration for the man in your life. Set up a hot dog bar, serve beer, play Take Me Out to The Ballgame at intervals throughout the party and have everyone take a drink or shot when it plays.

Golf Theme

This classic theme is perfect for father’s day or a birthday celebration. For a golf theme use turf grass to cover the table and offer traditional food from The Masters, like pimento cheese sandwiches and Arnold Palmer drinks.

Oscars & Award Viewing Parties

Watching the Oscars red carpet show is my sport of choice! An awards night party is a great idea for ladies night. Decorate with a red carpet, a DIY photo booth, and serve a red carpet cocktail or champagne to celebrate the glam.

Travel & Culture Themes

One of the best theme party ideas for adults is a travel destination theme. These are terrific ideas if you’ve been to other countries and are inspired by the cuisine and culture. Share that experience with friends or just fantasize about traveling when you can’t get away.

mini martini glasses filled with mashed potatoes and sausage medallions.
plates filled with green macarons and petit fours with green decorated icing, on table with gold coins for St patricks Irish theme.

English Pub Crawl

What a fun idea for anyone who loves London or the English villages that dot the countryside. Pour pints of beer, serve fish n’ chips, and bangers and mash. Set up a few different rooms or spaces, and serve a different beer and food at each one. Guests can do a “pub crawl” from room to room.

Oktoberfest

If you’re lucky enough to go, Oktoberfest may just be Disney Land for grownups! Bring the idea home with a theme party and serve German beer in steins, make beer cheese spread, set up a pretzel station, or eat roast chicken and sauerkraut. Dress in lederhosen if you want to make it really fun.

Irish Theme

This is terrific for St. Patrick’s day dinner party. Decorate with green and gold, add rainbow details with gold coins, and sip on Guinness beer. Eat traditional food like shepherd’s pie and Irish soda bread.

EXPERT TIP: Do the unexpected. Consider a tropical party in the middle of February, or a Winter White party in July.

Mexican Fiesta

Who doesn’t love Mexican food and drinks?! Host a Mexican themed party and serve margaritas, and chips and salsa to start. Make delicious chicken tostadas, Mexican 7-layer dip, enchiladas, nachos, or order from your favorite restaurant.

Italian Party

An Italian themed party may be the easiest to pull together if you serve crock pot spaghetti meat sauce for the crowd. Or let guests bring their favorite recipe for a potluck supper. Make it an Italian dinner party and call it a ‘Taste of Italy’ for party invitations.

overhead view of Asian noodles in Chinese takeout boxes with chopsticks and fortune cookies on the table.

Asian Theme

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with a Chinese themed dinner party and decorate with red, the symbol of good luck. Order takeout from your favorite restaurant and eat from little takeout boxes and chopsticks.

French Theme

Share a little bit of Paris with a French themed birthday celebration. Serve baguettes and cheese, mini quiche, French onion soup, French fries, escargots, lamb, macarons, and crème brûlée. Decorations should be rustic but elegant with antique frames, lace cloth, and pretty china. Sip Kir Royale’s and set up a photo booth with berets and mustaches.

patio set up with tropical green plants, tan couches and black and white rug.
tropical themed party decorations set up outside, with wood crates, fruit and tropical flowers.

Tropical Theme

A tropical theme party for adults is fun any time of year, but it can be particularly fun to host in the middle of winter when people are dreaming of an island vacation. Serve tropical themed food and decorate with colorful flowers, postcards, whole coconuts, and palm fronds.

Havana Theme

Throw a Cuban themed Havana Nights party with delicious food and tropical decorations. Decorate with burlap paired with pops of color, and lots of tropical fruit from the island. Serve mini Cuban appetizers, empanadas, and plenty of mojitos, and rum & coke cocktails. Don’t forget the cigars!

Hawaiian Luau

Decorate with pineapples, grass skirts, orchids, palm trees, and floral prints. Have plenty of leis to drape your guests in, and sip on Blue Hawaiian cocktails or Mai Tai’s served in tiki cups. Set up a photo booth with a grass fringe backdrop and props like sunglasses, a ukulele, and large flower clips for the hair. Do the limbo!

Safari Theme

Decorate with lots of green plants and animal prints. Dress in khaki pants and shirts or animal print fabrics. Use faux animal skin rugs as part of the décor.

outdoor party food buffet table with sunflowers in vase.

Spanish Tapas & Sangria

Throw an adult themed party that’s all about appetizers and sangria. Mix up a few different pitchers including traditional red wine sangria, spiced rum sangria, and white wine peach sangria. Snack on finger foods, dips, and appetizers.

Moroccan Theme Party

An exotic Moroccan theme party is a great idea for an adult birthday. Serve a variety of mezze platters or order some of your favorite dishes from a local Indian restaurant. Decorate with lots of gold and brass details, along with rich textures and colorful fabrics.

Greek Theme

Bring a bit of the Mediterranean to your home with blue and white décor and Greek theme party food and drinks.

Winter Wonderland

Decorate in all white or combine it with icy blue or pink for a winter wonderland party. Hang snowflakes and serve white food and drinks.

Mardi Gras masks and beads draped on mannequin head and in gold vase.

Mardi Gras Party

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll but keep it classy with a New Orleans inspired party for Mardi Gras. Host a Mardi Gras dinner party and decorate with beads and masks in the traditional color scheme of gold, green, and purple. Welcome guests with Hurricane cocktails and serve classic food like oysters, jambalaya, or red beans and rice.

Around the World Theme

Why narrow it down to one destination or one type of cuisine when you can host an Around the World party? This can work for a sit down dinner, but I like it for an appetizer party where you have food stations set up.

  • Pick 5 locations and serve one course that represents each place.
  • Pair each food with a drink from the locale, and decorate the tables with colors, flags and props that represent the region.
  • A sample menu might have chips, salsa & margaritas from Mexico, pizza & wine from Italy, french fries & champagne from France, sausages & beer from Germany, and Swiss chocolates & kirsch for dessert.

Special Celebrations & Occasions

These are the perfect party themes for a milestone birthday, an anniversary celebration, or a fun engagement party.

roulette wheel on green craps table.

Casino Night Party

Step up your poker game with an all out Casino party. It can be a “James Bond” spy theme where guests dress in fancy clothes and drink martinis. Set up casino games and have a friend run the tables, or hire an outside service.

Music Festival Theme

So fun to recreate the look and feel of a music festival like Coachella, or Burning Man. Make a playlist of songs, dress in modern hippie-chic styles, and wear Euphoria-style makeup.

Silent Dance Party

Everyone listens and dances to their own playlist via ear pods. This fun party theme works well if the crowd really does love to dance. When you’re taking a break just take off the ear pods and chat with someone else who’s also taking a break. Keep the space dark and use blacklights to create a nightclub atmosphere.

Scavenger Hunt

Gather friends together to work in teams and find objects on a list. They can take photos on their phone to show they found it, and the first team to finish wins a prize. This can be great for a neighborhood party.

Game Night

Pull out those board games and create some good ole fashioned fun with a Game night at home. Play classic board games or card games and set up a soup bar for dinner.

Movie night

Have a movie night party for your besties and watch some sappy chick flicks. Dim the lights, and put comfy pillows on the floor. Set up a movie themed popcorn bar, concession stand candy, and sip on wine. Turn it into a grown up sleepover party if you like! Other movies people love are Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

three bouquets of flowers and greenery wrapped in kraft paper on black background.

Flower Arranging Party

This party theme is a great idea for ladies night, bridal showers, Galantines day, or birthdays. Serve champagne punch and appetizers, and set up a flower arranging table where guests can create their own floral bouquets or centerpieces. You can hire a floral instructor if you want or follow easy tips for flower arranging. Provide several options of flowers, greenery, and vases to work with. Serve food and drinks garnished with edible flowers.

Painting Party

Sip and paint parties are very trendy for ladies night and you can do it in your own home. You can hire an instructor for this, but I think it would be super fun to set up a paint-by-numbers party! It’s so retro and nostalgic, and everyone’s art will turn out perfectly!

pink table with at-home spa party items including bowl of water, eye mask, and bath salts.

Spa party

Create a spa party at home for a bridesmaids party, a bachelorette party or a birthday. Have do-it-yourself beauty stations or hire professionals to give massages, manicures & pedicures, or teach makeup & hair styling tips. Treat guests to foot baths, face masks, healthy food and smoothies.

Classic Cocktail Party

It doesn’t get much more “adult” than this! Host a traditional cocktail party and serve easy hors d’oeuvres, finger food and martinis. Make it Mad Men retro and dress in A-line cocktail dresses, and suits. Play Frank Sinatra on the playlist.

Charcuterie Board Theme

Have a casual get-together and serve up a variety of charcuterie boards to nosh on.

Picnic

Pack up a basket and head to the park, the lake, or even your own back yard for an adult picnic. Play yard games like Croquet or Bocce Ball, and sip on wine.

person holding a rustic silver tray of chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows.
fire pit on patio at night with couple sitting beside it drinking wine.

Backyard Bonfire

If you live on a large property set up a proper bonfire for a crowd, or if you’re in a planned community simply set up a firepit on the patio. Have a hot dog roast, roast marshmallows and make s’mores, set up twinkling lights around the yard.

Classic Cookout

Set up the backyard for a traditional grilling party or backyard bbq. Play yard games, cook burgers or steaks on the grill, and sip on beer or pitcher drinks.

Color Theme

Pick your color of choice and use it everywhere. Add it in decorations, flowers, food, drinks, and attire.

Nautical Party

Dress in white and navy blue yachting attire or captain’s hats. Serve seafood and a blue cocktail. Decorate with nautical flags, sailor’s knots, buoys, lighthouses, and small boats.

Beach Party

Set up on a real beach or recreate it at home with sand, fishing net, shells and sea glass. Use a color scheme of tan and light blue or aqua. Add floor or picnic seating.

Pool Party

If you have a pool in your backyard, a pool party is a classic theme. If you don’t, get creative and fill a few kiddie pools with water, set up some lounge chairs and umbrellas, and serve snacks and fruity cocktails.

lady in white sweater in kitchen making a casserole.

Cooking Party

Set up mini cooking stations and let everyone participate in creating a meal. Or, hire a chef to teach guests how to make a specific dish.

Karaoke Party

Karaoke machines are readily available these days and make for great fun for parties. Set up a stage with curtain or Mylar fringe backdrop and put on a show.

Murder Mystery Party

Follow a murder mystery board game and see who can solve the crime! This is the ultimate in party games, and could be a Sherlock Holmes theme or Spy theme too.

Western or Cowboy Theme

Wear cowboy hats, bandanas around the neck, jeans, vests, and boots for a western theme. Serve beef brisket and prairie style baked beans. Decorate with ropes, horseshoes, and rustic fabrics, and make a country music playlist. For a whimsical twist, make it a Spaghetti Western and serve spaghetti!

red curtain with photo booth probs in box.

Creative Dress Up Themes for Adults

These themes are made for costumes and dress up! Make sure guests have at least a month to plan their outfit.

Adult Prom

This creative party theme can really take you back! Have everyone dress up in cheesy dresses and tuxedos, and set up a photo area for prom poses.

three ladies posing with masquerade masks and silver fringe backdrop.

Masquerade Party

Wear gorgeous masks and elegant dresses and suits. Great fun for a cocktail party or fancy dinner party.

Roaring 20’s or Great Gatsby

Perfect for the 2020 decade! Wear flapper dresses and gangster suits and hats. Make it a Speakeasy theme and have a special password guests must use to enter the bar area. Serve Rum Runners, and Gin Rickey cocktails for the prohibition era.

70’s Disco

Hang the disco ball and make a playlist of the best disco songs of the 70’s. Everyone dress in slinky dresses and leisure suits. Reference the movie Saturday Night Fever for ideas, or have it playing in the background.

80’s Party

Great for dress up parties where guests can dress as their favorite artist of the time. Think Madonna, Prince, Boy George, and anyone else who was on MTV on repeat. Decorate with neon colors, cassette tapes, posters, a boom box, Rubik’s cubes, etc.

Toga Party

These were big college parties in the 80’s. Bring it back in vogue and dress in white togas with gold accessories. Pair it with a Greek themed menu.

Hair Band or Rock Star Theme

This theme is related to an 80’s theme when hair bands like Bon Jovi and Poison were all the rage. Dress in skin tight pants, rocker tee’s, and big hair. Decorate with guitars and band posters.

60’s Hippie Theme

Bell bottom jeans, flowers everywhere, record players and vinyl albums, head bands, and peace symbols.

50’s Sock Hop

Dress in poodle skirts, bobby socks, tee shirts and leather jackets. Play classic rock n’ roll music, especially anything by Elvis, and decorate with old records.

Mad Men Party

Dress in vintage dresses and suits for a Mad Men party. Serve martinis and old fashion’s from a bar cart.

two men and a woman doing cheers with drinks, outside.

More Unique Parties for Grownups

  • Angels & Devils
  • Pimps & Ho’s
  • Wigs & Hats party
  • Sports heroes & Cheerleaders
  • Denim & Diamonds
  • Pirates & Mermaids
  • Pajamas & Lingerie
  • Tacky & Tiaras
  • Preppy party
  • Super Heroes & Villains

Holiday Parties

The next time you want to throw an adult birthday party, a fun ladies night, or just because, check out this list of best party themes for adults! Which is your favorite?

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2 Comments

  1. This is a terrific list. I am interested in planning a “Coronation Party” in the next two months. Have you given any thought to the upcoming royal ceremony and how to plan such an event? It would be fun.

  2. Well done on creating so many wonderful events. It would be so hard to pick a favorite as they are all so unique. Love them all and have enjoyed looking at all the details.